Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Chapter 14: Twentieth Century Trends

Chapter 14: Twentieth Century Trends

The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy:

How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest


McDougall Book Jacket

The original draft of this book contained 172 pages of endnotes, which had to be shed in the name of economy. Thanks to the Internet, readers can access them here. Unfortunately, of course, the author had to substitute page and paragraph numbers for the original superscripts in the text, but in most cases it should be clear which sentences in a given paragraph match up with which sources.

Paragraphs appearing in their entirety on a single page are identified by the page number (e.g., p. 122). Paragraphs divided between two pages are identified by those pages (e.g., pp. 92-93). Paragraphs that share a page with another complete paragraph are identified by the page number and paragraph number (e.g., p. 103, ¶ 1).





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Chapter 14: Twentieth Century Trends:

130-31: William Peirce Randel, Centennial: American Life in 1876 (Philadelphia: Chilton Books, 1969), pp. 59-66.

131: Salisbury Address to the Primrose League, May 4, 1898, in New York Times (May 18, 1898); see also Andrew Roberts, “Salisbury, The Empire Builder Who Never Was,” History Today 49, no. 10 (October 1999).

131-32: Salisbury Address at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, Guildhall, November 9, 1898, in New York Times (November 20, 1898). Thanks to Anne-Louise Antonoff for alerting me to these speeches. Fisher quote in Geoffrey Till, The Development of British Naval Thinking (London: Routledge, 2006), p. 75. See also Avner Offer, The First World War: An Agrarian Interpretation (Oxford, Eng.: Clarendon, 1989), pp. 217-43.

132: See W. Sydney Robinson, Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W. T. Stead : Britain’s First Investigative Journalist (London: Robson, 2012) and Laurel Brake, Ed King, Roger Luckhurst, and James Mussell, eds., W .T. Stead: Newspaper Revolutionary (London: British Library, 2012). Stead was en route to America for a peace conference sponsored by Andrew Carnegie when he went down on the Titanic, the most famous Briton on board.

132-33: W. T. Stead, The Americanization of the World: The Trend of the Twentieth Century (New York: Horace Markley, 1901), pp. 1-16, 43, 274-5. Stead thought it “probable that the Pope, whoever he may be, will again pronounce his condemnation. But when the tide rises for a third time, the supreme Pontiff will recognize that the principles of Americanism are part and parcel of the sacred deposit of truth which it is the duty of the Church sedulously to preserve and disseminate among the nations of the earth.” Stead credited the witness of Father Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulist Fathers, for the domestication of American Catholics.

133, ¶ 1: Ibid, p. 396, emphasis added. Stead then told an anecdote of his meeting earlier in 1901 with Andrew Carnegie who had just sold his steel empire to J. P. Morgan and dedicated himself to full-time philanthropy. Carnegie lamented that King George III had not only cost the British their American colonies, he had also cost the Americans Britain!  But the breach would soon be healed: “Let men say what they will, but I say that as surely as the sun in the heavens once shone upon Britain and America united, so surely is it one morning to rise and shine upon and greet again the Re-united States of the British-American Union” (p. 409).

133, ¶ 2: Ibid, p. 438. Strangely, the book contained a jarring epilogue that recalls Stead’s muckraking articles “If Christ Came to Chicago” and “Satan’s Invisible World Displayed or, Despairing Democracy: A Study of Greater New York.”  He described American life as “one rush to business; it is one rush all day; it is one rush home again….  Tissues are burned up rapidly, and the machine often burns up sooner than it should.  The man bald and gray in his youth; the man a victim of dyspepsia, of nervousness, or narcotics and stimulants, is a distinct American institution….  The American succeeds because he is under high pressure always, because he is determined to make speed even at the risk of bursting the boiler and wrecking the machine….  This is an unlovely spectacle, which seems to those of us who are not without sympathy with the strenuous life, very much like a vision of hell” (p. 443).

134, ¶ 1: The passage appears in the first chapter of What I Saw in America (1922) republished in The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, vol. 21 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), pp. 41-45.

134, ¶ 2: G. K. Chesterton, Heretics (New York: John Lane, 1905), pp. 247-66 (quotes pp. 263-66). Edward McNall Burns, The American Idea of Mission: Concepts of National Purpose and Destiny (New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University, 1957), pp. 311-13.

135: Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War (New York: Perseus Books, 1999), pp. 31-55, makes this argument which, to me, is pretty convincing. That is, contrary to myth the British did not pursue a strictly balance of power strategy before 1914 but rather practiced appeasement of the nations that could most threaten them (especially the United States) at the acceptable cost of spoiling relations with less immediate threats such as Germany.

135-36: A little known precedent was the activity of the San Domingo Improvement Company, New York firm that took control of the Dominican Republic’s finances in 1893 lest its defaults spark European intervention. But the company itself defaulted on loans from Europe in 1904, thereby prompting Roosevelt’s declaration. Cyrus Vesser, “Inventing Dollar Diplomacy: The Gilded Age Origins of the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine,” Diplomatic History 27, no. 3 (June 2003): 301-26.  On Japan see James Bradley, The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War (New York: Little, Brown, 2009).

136-37: Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), pp. 29-55; H. W. Brands, T.R.: The Last Romantic (New York: Basic Books, 1997); John Morton Cooper, The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1983). That last title, while a good one, is borrowed from Robert E. Osgood who borrowed it from Friedrich Nietzsche. Osgood wrote in Ideals and Self-Interest in America’s Foreign Relations: The Great Transformation of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1953), pp. 144-45: “One is reminded of Nietzsche’s distinction between the Warrior and the Priest….  Of course, the parallel is imperfect, since Roosevelt was forever donning the priestly robe and Wilson was, on occasion, a formidable Scotch Presbyterian Warrior.”  See also Douglas Eden, “The Indispensable Relationship: Theodore Roosevelt and the British,” in America’s Transatlantic Turn: Theodore Roosevelt and the “Discovery” of Europe, Hans Krabbendam and John M. Thompson, eds. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

137: Greg Russell, The Statecraft of Theodore Roosevelt: The Duties of Nations and World Order (Boston: Republic of Letters, 2009), pp. 89-132; Mark Twain thought Roosevelt mad, Henry Adams thought he belonged in an asylum, and Harvard President Charles Eliot called him a ruffian and a bully. But he promoted peace through arbitration as assiduously as he promoted war. The “big stick” quotation may be found in The Works of the Theodore Roosevelt, 20 vols. (New York: Scribner’s, 1926), XX: 523-24.  Greg Russell, “Theodore Roosevelt, geopolitics, and cosmopolitan ideals,” Review of International Studies 32 (2006): 541-59; Greg Russell, “Theodore Roosevelt’s Diplomacy and the Quest for Great Power Equilibrium in Asia.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 38, no. 3 (Sept. 2008): 433-55; quotation cited from Henry Cabet Lodge, Selections from the Correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s, 1925), II: 160.

137-38: Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, American Umpire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2013), p. 142, 179-208; Richard P. Gamble, The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 2003), pp. 69-87. In reality 19th century liberals and twentieth-century progressives profess to be peace loving, but rarely met a war they didn’t like insofar as it appeared to advance one or another of their causes. See Michael Howard, War and the Liberal Conscience (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 1978).

138-39: Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life (New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1965 <1909>), pp. 6-25 (quotes 6, 21, 25). That last phrase seemed to anticipate the centerpiece of Woodrow Wilson’s 1912 campaign for a New Freedom that was really warmed over Jeffersonianism aimed at the Jim Crow South and Populist Great Plains (he didn’t mean any of it, of course, being a High Progressive).

139: Ibid, pp. 289-314 (quotes, pp. 255, 293, 296, 308-9, 311-12). I cannot leave Croly without providing a taste of his Progressive civil religion. Democracy, he instructed, needs a “peculiarly high standard of moral behavior; and it is even more true to declare that a democratic scheme of moral values reaches its consummate expression in the religion of human brotherhood.”  But “brotherhood is no substitute for specific efficiency” and “faith itself is no substitute for good work.”  The nation had to undergo a long process of social reorganization and individual emancipation before the soil was prepared for some “democratic evangelist – some imitator of Jesus who will reveal to men the path….”  Since democracy could not be divorced from the dream of human perfection, “the common citizen must be something of a saint and something of a hero” (pp. 452-54).

139-40: Lewis Einstein, “The United States and Anglo-German Rivalry,” National Review 60 (Jan. 1913): 736-50.



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