The Houses of Parliament in London, November 2015.
Toby Melville / reuters

Looking back at the foreign policies of Britain and the United States since 1800 one sees two strands woven closely together—the strands of idealism and realism. In both countries, governments, parliaments and peoples have been happiest when these two elements have been brought together in apparent harmony. Take for example two quotations from nineteenth-century England:

We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow. . . . With every British Minister the interests of England ought to be the shibboleth of his policy.

And then again:

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