By Henry R. Nau, Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University
Reviewed by Francis P. Sempa, Contributing Editor
In the August-September issue of the Hoover Institution's Policy Review, Henry R. Nau, a professor at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs who served in the Ford and Reagan administrations, has written a lengthy and fascinating article identifying the principal tenets and analyzing the historical foundations of an approach to foreign policy he calls "conservative internationalism."
Nau identifies key tenets of "conservative internationalism," and traces the historical and intellectual foundations of this approach to the presidencies of Jefferson, Polk, Truman, and Reagan. He also explains how "conservative internationalism" differs in some ways and is similar in other ways to "realism" as exemplified by Alexander Hamilton and Theodore Roosevelt, and "liberal internationalism" as practiced by Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.
The 11 tenets of "conservative internationalism" are:
(1) Expanding freedom by increasing the world's number of democratic, constitutional governments;
(2) Focusing initially on geopolitical, not ideological threats;
(3) Seeking opportunities to fashion a balance of power that expands freedom;
(4) Exercising prudence in picking targets for the expansion of freedom;
(5) Consistently combining force with diplomacy to achieve foreign policy goals;
(6) Giving equal weight to force and diplomacy, and timing diplomatic initiatives to coincide with effective military strength;
(7) Relying less on international institutions and being less concerned with constructing a "world community;"
(8) Recognizing that expanding democracy is difficult and significantly constrained by culture and other local factors;
(9) Promoting expansion of free trade that encourages (but does not guarantee) political freedom abroad;
(10) Factoring culture, ideology, and religion, along with economics, into selecting targets for expanding freedom; and
(11) Accepting that in free societies foreign policy must receive public support to...