Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Anglo-Protestant Basis of U.S. Foreign Policy
The Anglo-Protestant Basis of U.S. Foreign Policy

The Anglo-Protestant Basis of U.S. Foreign Policy

Abstract

U.S. foreign policy thinking is based ultimately on the particular historical experience and cultural legacy of the American founding, and at the very base of that founding is the preeminence of Anglo-Protestantism. The religious heritage of the United States, a sixteenth century blend of a theological reformation and the rise of modernity in the Enlightenment, has endowed American politics with a predisposition for egalitarian, anti-hierarchical, and contractual forms, and that disposition applies as well to foreign affairs. The syntax, but not the content, of Anglo-Protestantism shapes basic attitudes particularly when political elites face crisis situations, but it is institutionalized in government and society at all levels. Six examples from the post-World War II period illustrate the case.

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