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Back to Bedrock: The Eight Traditions of American Statecraft

Courtesy Reuters

Do Americans indeed suffer from "conceptual poverty" in their effort to construct a post-Cold War strategy? Actually, no less a student of the United States than Andrei Gromyko once remarked that Americans have "too many doctrines and concepts proclaimed at different times" and so are unable to pursue "a solid, coherent, and consistent policy." Only recall the precepts laid down in Washington's Farewell Address and Jefferson's inaugurals, the speeches of John Quincy Adams, the Monroe Doctrine with its Polk, Olney, and Roosevelt Corollaries, Manifest Destiny, the Open Door, Wilson's Fourteen Points, Franklin Roosevelt's wartime speeches and policies, Containment in all its varieties, Nixon's detente, Carter's Notre Dame speech, Clinton's enlargement, and the Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, and Reagan Doctrines. Far from hurling the country into a state of anomie, the end of the Cold War has revealed anew the conceptual opulence that has cluttered American thinking throughout this century.

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