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Hard Line

The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II

Colin Dueck

Publication Year: 2010

Hard Line traces the history of Republican Party foreign policy since World War II by focusing on the conservative leaders who shaped it. Colin Dueck closely examines the political careers and foreign-policy legacies of Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He shows how Republicans shifted away from isolationism in the years leading up to World War II and oscillated between realism and idealism during and after the cold war. Yet despite these changes, Dueck argues, conservative foreign policy has been characterized by a hawkish and intense American nationalism, and presidential leadership has been the driving force behind it.

What does the future hold for Republican foreign policy? Hard Line demonstrates that the answer depends on who becomes the next Republican president. Dueck challenges the popular notion that Republican foreign policy today is beholden to economic interests or neoconservative intellectuals. He shows how Republican presidents have been granted remarkably wide leeway to define their party's foreign policy in the past, and how the future of conservative foreign policy will depend on whether the next Republican president exercises the prudence, pragmatism, and care needed to implement hawkish foreign policies skillfully and successfully. Hard Line reveals how most Republican presidents since World War II have done just that, and how their accomplishments can help guide future conservative presidents.

Published by: Princeton University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Content

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p. v

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p. vii

While the views presented in this book are my own, I am grateful to many people who helped me in the writing of it. A set of conferences at Princeton University in 2008–9 on the subject of conservatism and U.S. foreign policy, attended by a number of distinguished foreign policy experts, helped sharpen my ideas. Special thanks to the conference coorganizers, Aaron Friedberg and Jakub Grygiel, for exchanging views with me, reading pieces I sent them, and contributing to my understanding of the subject. Thanks...

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Introduction: Conservative Traditions in U.S. Foreign Policy

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pp. 1-10

Where is the Republican Party headed politically and ideologically? Should it become more strictly conservative or less so? Th ese questions have interested observers and animated conservatives in particular since the Republican electoral defeats of 2006 and 2008. Heated debates continue as to how far the Republican Party should adjust and adapt, in terms of either style or substance, to recover national political success. Reformers such as David Brooks and David Frum urge Republicans to modernize, strike a new...

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Chapter One: Republicans, Conservatives, and U.S. Foreign Policy

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pp. 11-38

Republicans entered the twentieth century, somewhat to their own surprise, as the party of American expansionism overseas. For most of the late nineteenth century, there had been no fundamental diff erences between Democrats and Republicans on issues of international expansion or military intervention. On the contrary, both parties embraced the Monroe Doctrine, strategic nonentanglement, economic opportunities abroad, and consensual...

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Chapter Two: Robert TaftTh e Conservative as Anti- Interventionist

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pp. 39-84

To this day, Senator Robert Taft (R- OH) embodies for admirers and detractors alike a foreign policy stance of conservative anti- interventionism. From the late 1930s through the early 1950s, Taft argued quite consistently that endless military entanglements abroad would endanger American traditions of limited government. He represented with integrity a distinct type of midcentury...

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Chapter Three: Dwight EisenhowerTh e Conservative as Balancer

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pp. 85-116

Dwight Eisenhower was one of the most impressive and successful foreign policy presidents of the twentieth century. He ran for the Republican nomination in 1952 as a special favorite of GOP moderates and internationalists, but soon gathered broad national support as a figure of exceptional appeal. Eisenhower’s overarching foreign policy goal was to contain communism and preserve America’s world role without bankrupting the United States..

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Chapter Four: Barry GoldwaterTh e Conservative as Hawk

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pp. 117-141

Senator Barry Goldwater never became president of the United States, but he had more of an impact on American political alignments over the long run than some presidents. Th is impact extended to foreign policy issues. During the 1960s, Goldwater called for an assertive foreign policy of worldwide anti- Communist rollback. He rejected arguments for containment, peaceful coexistence, arms control, or diplomatic engagement with the Soviet

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Chapter Five: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger

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pp. 142-188

The Nixon- Kissinger foreign policy team of 1969 to 1974 epitomizes Republican foreign policy realism. Richard Nixon was a thoroughgoing political pragmatist with an instinctive dislike of liberal elites, a readiness to embrace government activism on economic matters, and a penchant for bold, innovative departures in international affairs. Henry Kissinger was a brilliant...

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Chapter Six: Ronald Reagan

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pp. 189-231

Ronald Reagan is the central conservative Republican leader of the past seventy years. He redefi ned the image of the American right and catalyzed conservative predominance in the GOP, leaving that party stronger and more coherent than at any time since the 1920s. In relation to party politics, he took the Goldwater coalition of Sun Belt conservatives and expand...

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Chapter Seven: George H. W. BushTh e Conservative as Realist

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pp. 232-264

As president, George H. W. Bush was temperamentally rather than ideologically conservative. He emphasized caution, stability, and prudence in international as well as domestic public matters. On foreign policy, Bush was oft en criticized for supposed timidity. In reality, however, he guided American diplomacy with considerable strength, skill, and success through a period..

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Chapter Eight: George W. BushTh e Nationalist as Interventionist

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pp. 265-289

President George W. Bush followed a path of “big government conservatism” both at home and abroad. He presided over major increases in domestic social spending, as well as a sweepingly ambitious attempt to democratize the Middle East. Neither of these legacies would necessarily have been predictable from his 2000 presidential campaign, which emphasized conservatism at...

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Conclusion: Republicans and U.S. Foreign Policy in theAge of Obama

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pp. 290-322

Th e evolution of Republican foreign policy since the 1930s is commonly misunderstood. The traditional storyline is that of a progress from isolationism to internationalism, but as we saw, this is not especially helpful analytically, and it begs more questions than it answers. Prior to World War II, even Republicans like Robert Taft did not call for the strict isolation of the United States from world affairs, any more than later Republicans embraced every form...


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pp. 323-358


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pp. 359-386

E-ISBN-13: 9781400836758
E-ISBN-10: 1400836751
Print-ISBN-13: 9780691141824
Print-ISBN-10: 0691141827

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: Course Book

OCLC Number: 664572207
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hard Line

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1989.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 1989-.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Philosophy.
  • United States -- Foreign relations administration.
  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854-) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854-) -- History -- 21st century.
  • Presidents -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Presidents -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
  • Conservatism -- United States.
  • Nationalism -- United States.
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