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A nation must think before it acts.
This introductory essay seeks to historicize the term “conservative internationalism.” It examines how interpretations evolved over the past century and identifies key figures who espoused distinctively conservative visions of America’s role in the world. The majority share a number of common traits: a fervent commitment to guarding national sovereignty against excessive supranational infringement, dedication to maintaining a strong military, trust in the efficacy of American power, a realist appreciation of the need to go to war and concern for order and stability at home and abroad. Yet there are also important differences over the purpose of American power.