Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Henry R. Nau's "Conservative Internationalism"

Henry R. Nau is professor of political science and international affairs in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. His many books include The Myth of America's Decline, At Home Abroad, and Perspectives on International Relations.

Nau applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Conservative Internationalism: Armed Diplomacy under Jefferson, Polk, Truman, and Reagan, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Conservative Internationalism discusses the purchase of the Louisiana territory by Thomas Jefferson and notes that Jefferson expanded government, in this case by a $15 million debt for Louisiana, when it helped freedom. In this case, the Louisiana Purchase widened the vote for white male citizens by making land available, ownership of which in those days was required to vote. Jefferson opposed central government when it threatened freedom, as in the case of the Sedition Acts of the 1790s.

This book is about how Jefferson and other limited government conservatives have thought about US foreign policy ever since. It features James K. Polk, who thought very much like Jefferson, Harry Truman, who was a more conservative president than Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan who was the quintessential small government advocate at home and champion of freedom abroad. Each of these presidents combined a commitment to defend and spread freedom with a muscular foreign policy to confront despots and a willingness to compromise to keep the costs of foreign policy from undermining our domestic freedoms.

The book's message is more timely than ever. Libertarian, social, economic and reformed conservatives have far more in common with each other, on both domestic and foreign policy, than they do with liberals. This book helps them see that and hastens the day when Republicans can take back the reins of American foreign policy and at acceptable cost reassert American exceptionalism and leadership.
Learn more about Conservative Internationalism at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue