Just as there has been no genuine alternative to the liberal political tradition in America, as Louis Hartz pointed many years ago, so in foreign policy both the higher principles and the baser urges shaping America’s relations with the rest of the world have always been informed by a liberal worldview. Certainly no competing foreign policy tradition, whether one calls it conservative, “realist” or something else, has ever posed a serious challenge. No American statesman has ever conducted international relations without regard to liberal ideological considerations. Even Henry Kissinger, America’s high priest of realpolitik, did not in office attempt to fashion a foreign policy in which American liberal principles were somehow excised from a definition of American interests. Kissinger may have tried to make American foreign policy less ideological; he did not attempt the impossible task of making it non-ideological.

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