Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Which Presidential Foreign Policy to you follow?

Quote from "The Carter Syndrome", an article in Foreign Policy Magazine right now.

In general, U.S. presidents see the world through the eyes of four giants: Alexander Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson. Hamiltonians share the first Treasury secretary's belief that a strong national government and a strong military should pursue a realist global policy and that the government can and should promote economic development and the interests of American business at home and abroad. Wilsonians agree with Hamiltonians on the need for a global foreign policy, but see the promotion of democracy and human rights as the core elements of American grand strategy. Jeffersonians dissent from this globalist consensus; they want the United States to minimize its commitments and, as much as possible, dismantle the national-security state. Jacksonians are today's Fox News watchers. They are populists suspicious of Hamiltonian business links, Wilsonian do-gooding, and Jeffersonian weakness.

Moderate Republicans tend to be Hamiltonians. Move right toward the Sarah Palin range of the party and the Jacksonian influence grows. Centrist Democrats tend to be interventionist-minded Wilsonians, while on the left and the dovish side they are increasingly Jeffersonian, more interested in improving American democracy at home than exporting it abroad.

I tend to be Wilsonian. I found this description to be interesting. The article posits that Obama's mentality is a mix of Wilson and Jefferson, and that if he can't make a clear policy he'll end up like Carter.

2 comments:

Jaimie said...

I'm definitely Jeffersonian. (Go Libertarians!) But since we've meddled so much recently, I recognize the need for some "intervention" (self defense). So I am Jeffersonian, but Jeffersonian doesn't work right now... although it totally would under other circumstances.

Togenberg said...

I am a Wilsonian modified by Hamiltonian-ism. Politics and foreign policy are messy and nasty but I never want to lose site of upholding what is right and good whilst pursuing the core goal of safety. In doing so, there will be trade-offs and many people won't like it in the short-term but if done wisely it will be seen as right in the larger term.