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Chapter X LIBERAL, CONSTITUTIONAL, AND LEGAL IDEALS AMERICA’S IDEALS, liberal, constitutional, and legal, rank among its highest values. Taken together, they also define the national creed, what it is to be an American, our national identity. These political ideals have been articulated in the form of legally binding rules, normative declarations and exhortations, partisan promises, and national self-congratulations . They are found in the preamble to the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and in countless Supreme Court decisions, presidential inaugurals, congressional addresses, national and local campaign speeches, July Fourth perorations, newspaper editorials, school texts, and scholarly books. America’s liberal principles encompass democratic majoritarianism, minority rights, electoral accountability, the rights of free speech and assembly, political and economic freedom, political equality, constitutionalism, the rule of law, open debate, and the truthful conduct of governmental affairs. A security strategy may be eminently successful in protecting our highest values from external threats yet still affect them adversely at home. At one time or another all but two or three of America’s political ideals have suffered, on occasion egregiously and extensively, in the course of protecting them (and much else) from external challenges. This chapter considers the practice of national security as it affects the practice of our domestic ideals: To what extent, in what regards, through whose acts, and with how much justification? The national strategy can do markedly more to insure adherence to and respect for America’s liberal ideals than strategic internationalism, far more so than the adversarial variant. Where it does not immediately obviate, it discourages, their disfigurement. Strategic internationalism invariably has the powerful potential for and has frequently made for constitutional distortions, illegal transgressions, and political abuses. Its international ambitions and anxieties engender seductive appeals and easy justifications, political enticements and opportunities, official powers and institutional arrangements that allow the disfigurement of liberal principles . Moreover, all this is unnecessary on strategic internationalism’s own doctrinal and policy premises. Neither the policy dictates and successes of strategic internationalism, nor its autonomous management by the execu- LIBERAL AND LEGAL IDEALS 241 tive, have necessitated public dissembling and deceit, constitutional and legal distortions, or intrusive and abusive internal security measures. The first part of this chapter sets out the historical isolationists’ counsels regarding the connections between the country’s security policies and the practice of its political ideals. Sequentially they focused upon the republican virtues, public tolerance of political dissent, the protection of civil liberties, the preservation of economic freedoms, the government’s adherence to legally and normatively binding rules, the opportunities for unfettered debate, and the maintenance of the constitutional balance of powers between Congress and the president. The isolationists’ counsels and predictions regarding the alternative security strategies’ benign and adverse consequences for our political practices were mostly warranted, all the more so after their political demise in the late 1940s. The second section categorizes the several dynamics by which strategic internationalism disfigured liberal political principles; none would have appeared with a national strategy in place. It then recalls the numerous occasions after 1945 on which those principles were contravened. The third section considers the principles’ strategic significance. On the record there is little basis for maintaining that an autonomously managed internationalism was constricted by them; their disfigurement did not promote America’s security even on strategic internationalism’s own doctrinal assumptions. The chapter ends by looking into the future. Strategic internationalism will most probably continue to engender some illiberal practices. Insuring against them requires a national strategy. I George Washington was much exercised by the domestic divisiveness brought on by foreign involvements. The politics of the early Republic were inflamed by the European war; partisan passions divided Americans with an abiding attachment to Britain from those committed to revolutionary France. The Farewell Address begins with the warning that foreign involvements could eventuate in the decay of what later came to be called the republican virtues. When there is “Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike for another . . . Real Patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious.” The valedictory concludes with the expectation that international aloofness will help “guard against the Impostures of pretended patriotism .” Washington hoped that his counsels would help “control the usual current of passions,” that they would “now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit.”1 These concerns were widely shared by the leaders of the early Republic . Those who drafted the Constitution were keenly aware...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400821815
Related ISBN
9780691029214
MARC Record
OCLC
191952687
Pages
352
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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