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9 thoughts on “Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy

  1. Russell Upol Russell Upol says:

    In 1987 Michael H Hunt wrote and published his revolutionary book “Ideology and US Foreign Policy” with an unprecedented approach to understand and explain the history of US foreign policy in a different light Before his book was published the US foreign policies had mostly been described from the realist and economic centered perspectives narrated by critiues such as George Kennan and William Appleman Williams In his book Hunt argues that historians should instead “attempt to understand ideology in relation to a cultural system” p 12 To support his argument Hunt utilizes the works of cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz and describes the importance of beliefs symbols and values in discussing ideology in foreign relations This was definitely a very different approach than what had been practiced before And even though Hunt’s work in this book may not be held as the sole instigator in the increasing appeal of the cultural approach – looking at the advances cultural historians have made since the publication of this book within the field of American foreign policy specially by Paul T McCartney Amy Kaplan and Donald E Pease clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of Hunt’s approach that upheld the adoption of cultural influence as a tool of analysis to analyze American foreign policy Hunt’s first chapter “Coming to Terms with Ideology” opens up the discussion by analyzing works of Richard Barnet Melvin Gurtov Earl Ravenal and Richard Feinberg etc Their works had been calling for greater restraint in foreign policy making However Hunt argues that without providing adeuate attention to the role that ideology plays in foreign policy making this cannot be achieved He also uestions the approach of the father of the containment doctrine George Kennan as Hunt thinks “that might just be labeled as pejorative” p 5 Kennan talks about the role of legalism and moralism as a deep seated and pervasive outlook that “had repeatedly obstructed a clear definition and effective pursuit of the national interest” p 6 Hunt argues that American foreign policies were not the result of moralistic and legalistic outlook rather the illusion of the US that war is an “instrument of policy which could bring total victory or alternatively that peace could be had through world disarmament arbitration treaties and the outlawry of war the action of international organization and other means that sidestepped ‘the real substance of international affairs’” p 6 Hunt establishes the central argument of his book that “the fundamental propositions of American foreign policy are rooted in the process of nation building in domestic social arrangements broadly understood and in ethnic and class divisions” p 16 In his second chapter “Visions of National Greatness” Hunt introduces his three central arguments At the core of his central arguments is the simple uestion of where does this vision of American greatness come from? First he opposes Jefferson’s ideas about liberty which enormously contributed to the belief of American exceptionalism within the American presidency and public rhetoric Even though the book does not go into detailed historical analysis of how the United States was created – it does uestion the treatment of the natives by the British French and Spanish colonists Particularly for the British colonists who decided to make the land their own The concept of greatness of the new country was somehow perversely related to the domination over the natives and the conuering of the new land This chapter strongly demonstrates the huge impact that visions of national greatness had on policy makers in the days to comeChapter three “The Hierarchy of Race” sheds the light on how the concept of American exceptionalism was established in its early years To give us a clear understanding Hunt takes us back to the old world order where the belief in the hierarchy of race was predominant Hunt reminds us that these colonists who came from different parts of the European world already had a pre established concept of Europeans being the top race in the hierarchy Particularly the literature that has been circulated prior to the finding and colonizing of the new found lands along with the centuries of racist history practiced by the European rulers in different parts of the world clearly indicates the mindset that these colonizers had towards the natives Towards the end of chapter three on page 90 Hunt writes “Americans inherited a rich legacy of racial thought from their immediate European ancestors Westerners coming into contact with peoples of the ‘Third World’ in the fifteenth century had already betrayed signs of racism Well before Englishmen took that first step on the North American continent they had absorbed Elizabethan myths about blacks and easily extrapolated them to other non white people” How this inheritance of racial superiority plays out in the field of foreign policy is experienced first by the “Manifest Destiny” doctrine The concept and execution of “Manifest Destiny” ideology was simply a projection of this racist belief that the world belongs to the Anglo Saxons Along with the twisted mixture of Darwin’s evolution theory the Anglo Saxons undoubtedly believed that they were the top race and had no hesitation in massacring the native Indian tribes for their acuisition of lands which they believed were gifts from the creator In chapter four Hunt introduces the effects of revolutions happening around the world that also shaped American foreign policy The French revolution was not admired by the leaders of the United because of its notorious history of bloodshed and the utter destruction of its royal families Instead the Americans 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” p 116 American leaders and its public maintained the same tone towards the Bolshevik revolution as well Every step of the way Hunt shows that the American ideology of superiority downplayed the world revolutions Even in the case of the Cold War in the concept of “containment” the US obviously wanted to be the dominant superpower in the world – which Hunt claims was the continuation of the US racial supremacy In these few chapters Hunt pretty much consolidates his arguments as he draws the lines to connect each themes to the next And in his final chapters Hunt attempts to bring all the arguments together to discuss the continuation of these ideologies and how they affect today’s US foreign policyIt is uite difficult not to agree with Hunt’s perspectives as the book clearly demonstrates the residue of racial supremacy throughout the history of the US and its European counterparts To maintain its domination and hegemony the United States have involved themselves in all parts of the world How they had handled the Latin Americans the Asians or the Middle East clearly indicates the aggressive tendency of the United States which roots from this very old racial supremacy point of view What Hunt fails to address though is the rise of corporations and their lobbying in the governments how the average American citizen is fooled by the treachery of these corporations and politicians – that also had a huge impact on the American foreign policy and trade Because at the end of the day they are all interconnected By putting up the facade of superior race the politicians continuously bluffed the Americans into believing that whatever the regime was doing was for the best interest of the US populationAmerican foreign policy had been severely influenced by corporate greed and special interest groups Just to mention a few the wars in the Middle East had mostly been dictated by the need of oil and the interests of corporations and the relationship with China and the destruction of American industrialism by moving all our industries to China and other 3rd world countries At one point after WWII and after the collapse of the Soviet Union the “Uni polar Moment” provided the US to continue with their superior ideology yet it chose to manipulate its own people by dragging the country into severe trade deficits and unwanted wars which yielded heartbreaking results every step of the wayHunt’s book has been an eye opening chapter for the history of US foreign policy – but does it fully capture the grasp of the national exceptionalism racial supremacy and evolution had on the US foreign policy Albeit there are other variables that had dictated the US foreign policy however Hunt’s bold assertion on these three variables and how they have played a major role in shaping the US foreign policy is admirable

  2. Wes Bishop Wes Bishop says:

    Overall good book Hunt is not a writer and as a reader one should remember this but his critiue on foreign policy and the facets that affect it are good and should be read today as the US continues involvement in the Middle East

  3. Paula Paula says:

    Hunt wrote a book on topics Americans don’t like to confront about themselves —which is a compelling reason to read and digest its points

  4. John Santon John Santon says:

    Amazing bookWould love to see a copy on the Trump Policy

  5. Joseph Stieb Joseph Stieb says:

    An informative but flawed cultural critiue of USFP Hunt's argument is that 3 ideascultural memes have shaped USFP since the founding 1 A sense of national greatness or destiny ie exceptionalism 2 A racial hierarchy with whites at the top 3 Fear and opposition to the majority of revolutions that don't fit the moderate responsible example of the American Revolution His explanations of each of these are very interesting and detailed and I'm convinced that these are powerful even somewhat unconscious forces that have and to some extent still influence USFP Hunt is careful not to assign too much causal value to these forces although he rightly shows their presence in most casesHowever the book is also too one sided and judgmental Hunt is another scholar with little appreciation for the burdens of leadership the situations in which leaders must choose among a series of bad options While focusing on the things that America has mucked up in the past he spends basically no time on the destruction of fascism the rebuilding of Europe and Japan NATO the containment of the USSR and other key aspects of international order and prosperity that the US has established Hunt is also like many academic historians who can't think about the dogs that didn't bark or what might have happened had the US not done certain things and the possibility that the outcomes could have been worseAnother problem with the book is the argument that these 3 forces have pushed the US towards greater intervention in the world uite consistently in our history Hunt's book is about continuity in USFP and our inability to completely shake these cultural concepts because of their deeply ingrained nature I'm not totally convinced that all of these ideas should be shaken Nevertheless Hunt does not appreciate the deep power of the isolationist sentiment in US politics Somehow the fear of getting involved in WWI 19th century aloofness from Europe the denigrating view of the Old World and the post WWI and Depression Era isolationism count for nothing in this book Rather American taste for global dominance and reform increase geometrically from the start of the 20th centuryLastly Hunt has a very simplistic view of development in USFP He says that the US racial hierarchy transformed in the mid 20th century into a division of the world as developed and undeveloped He claims that this new division really just reflected old prejudices in a scientific and politically correct garb I think he's right to some extent but he strongly overstates his argument Development theorists held racial and cultural biases but unlike early American imperialists like Teddy Roosevelt they were not racial ideologues Moreover many of their development programs were incredibly helpful in well developing these impoverished societies I'm often left scratching my head at many academics attitudes towards development Obviously development should not be a basis for military intervention but I struggle to see what's so wrong about conceptually dividing the world between have and have nots and then trying to close that gap Judgment is easy and this book is full of it I much prefer and recommend the measured criticism of John Lewis Gaddis than Hunt's work He should have stuck to the historical aspects of this book rather than the muddled critiue of recent policy

  6. Eric Smith Eric Smith says:

    This is it must be remembered a critical socio historical analysis It aims to demonstrate in particular how the cultural biases of American foreign policy makers have skewed and altered American political behaviors Hunt is particularly concerned wi the narrative of race and racial ideology and while his work is powerful it suffers from being somewhat over deterministic Rather than racial ideology being a major generative force in our foreign policy it is the force explaining both American aggression and isolationism imperialism and free trade Therein is its flaw but the originality and impact still make it essential reading

  7. Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Excellent history of Ideology and US Foreign policy from the origins of the nation to 1987 publication year Hunt presents a compelling case for three themes acting as the foundation of policy and ideology through the decades consistently and without the so called watershed transformations identified by other historians The three themes are racial hierarchies the conception of national greatness and the fear of or contempt for revolutions elsewhere in the world While at times difficult to follow the writing is often witty and clever All told the book was insightful and a good primer on US foreign policy through the centuries

  8. Yonnibardavi Yonnibardavi says:

    The best book I ever read on why American foreign policy makes sense

  9. Jessica Jessica says:

    Excellent breakdown of American ideological principles When one looks closely at the events of the Vietnam War one will find that Hunt's arguments stand the test of scrutiny

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Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy ❰PDF❯ ✅ Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy Author Michael H. Hunt – In a major reinterpretation of American diplomatic history Michael H Hunt argues that there is an ideology that has shaped American foreign policy an ideology based on a conception of national mission In a major reinterpretation U.S. Foreign Kindle ´ of American diplomatic history Michael H Hunt argues that there is an ideology that has shaped American foreign policy an ideology based on a conception of national mission on the racial classification of other peoples and on hostility toward social revolutions and he traces its rise and impact from Ideology and MOBI :↠ the eighteenth century down to the present day.

  • Paperback
  • 251 pages
  • Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy
  • Michael H. Hunt
  • English
  • 09 September 2016
  • 9780300043693