The author makes an argument that carries on fresh insights on the role of ideology within American foreign policy. Published in 1987, Ideology and U.
S. Foreign Policy, is clearly influenced by the rise in cultural history as a discipline in the 1970s. He begins his book with bordering the discussions on US foreign policy between George Kennan and William Appleman Williams. The former argued for a realism that was supposedly based on what Mead calls a continental approach to foreign policy: balance of power and national interest.
Kennan sees ideology as an aberration and seeks to limit its influence on foreign policy, advocating for a professional class to handle foreign policy, isolating it from the democratic process and thereby limiting the effects of moralism and legalism and allowing “coolly analytic experts who in their collective wisdom grast the ‘realities’ of international affairs…” to steer the ship of state. Keenan’s assessment is dismisses the democratic process’s influence as problematic, rather than seeing it as a moral and cultural force for good. He also assumes that elite policy makers are immune to biases. Thus the great realist critic of ideology ironically takes realism as his ideology. Williams, on the other hand, tied the national interest to economics, “a tool used by the grandees of American capitalism to maintain their economic power and with it their sociopolitical control.” While Hunt argues that the grain of conventional wisdom about the sources of foreign policy decisions in the U.S. with the suggestion that they are driven by ideology — historians should ‘attempt to understand ideology in relation to a cultural system’.
In this action, he successfully achieves his aim of providing a new approach to analysing ideology in foreign relations. His book is an accomplished and interesting to informed the basic questions approach historians ask of US foreign policy that has contributed to the adoption of historical, as a tool of analysis, across a range of historical theories and disciplines.Hunt begins the first chapter by discussing the history surrounding the subject and offers a broad foundation for the following chapters. Then, Chapters 2,3 and 4 discuss three arguments that he says effect U.
S. foreign policy from the founding of the country to around World War I. These are Visions of National Greatness, The Racial Hierarchy, and The Perils of Revolution. In his second chapter, where he contends Jefferson’s ideas about liberty contributed to the beginning of the embedment of exceptionalism within the American presidency and public rhetoric. The chapter is strong in demonstrating the impact that visions of national greatness had on policy makers and leads successfully into chapter three, where connect with American visions of greatness to the formation of the racial hierarchy.
Over a structure which Americans placed themselves at the peak, they ranked the various peoples in the world based on the physical distinctions they made and the ability to adopt democratic institutions. He discusses how this filtered into American foreign policy and describe his evidence in the use of visual sources. In the final of his three arguments, chapter four argues that the American relationship with revolutions has changed throughout the course of its history. The author encourages the power of national identity in Americans notion of international relations and argues that over a superior perception of themselves, American’s viewed the violent revolutions of the nineteenth century as an expression of the ‘unfortunate traits of foreign people, and the personal failings of foreign leaders.’ He concludes that revolution formed a basis for “policymakers” polarising outlook on foreign policy at the turn of the Twentieth Century and that it broadened the United States outlook on its Foreign Policy. Hunt’s three chapters work well to collect his argument and draw the lines link each theme to the following.
In his last two chapters he is able to bring these together to discuss how they continue to influence policy all over the twentieth century and it is good to demonstrate one of his major arguments that these longstanding ideologies have been concreted in American foreign relations from the beginning and continue to play an significant role in foreign policy.