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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2006 / 20 Tishrei, 5767

America's Wilsonian instinct

By Max Boot


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There are few epithets more damning in American politics than "Wilsonian." It carries connotations of purblind self-righteousness, of senseless moralizing, of good intentions gone awry. Granted, most of those pejoratives apply to Woodrow Wilson, whose failures in peacemaking after World War I are notorious and helped set the stage for World War II. The fiasco in Iraq will undoubtedly strengthen the demonization of the Wilsonian impulse that was said to have animated the invasion.


Yet the Wilsonian label has always rested on a dubious conceit — that the 28th president of the United States was the first to inject idealism and interventionism into our foreign policy. This notion cannot survive a serious examination of American history before the 20th century. That is just what the distinguished scholar Robert Kagan provides in his important new book, "Dangerous Nation," the first of a projected two-volume history of U.S. foreign policy.


Kagan, also the author of "Of Paradise and Power," a bestselling essay about transatlantic relations, sets out to explode the cherished myth that Americans are "by nature inward-looking and aloof, only sporadically and spasmodically venturing forth into the world, usually in response to external attack or perceived threats." In fact, as he points out, Americans have been animated by an expansionist ethos since the days of the Puritans.


Wrongly interpreted as isolationists who wanted to escape the world by building a "city upon a hill," the Puritans were actually, in Kagan's telling, "global revolutionaries" who came to the New World to establish a base from which they could convert the Old World. Other early settlers were less religious and more animated by what Kagan calls "acquisitive materialism." Neighbors who might block their acquisitions — whether Indians or Spaniards — were brushed aside or attacked.


The taking of others' land was justified by an ideology that held that "English civilization was leading humanity into the future." Far from being anti-imperialists, the colonists, Kagan writes, were the "most enthusiastic of British imperialists." Indeed, one of their main complaints against London was that faraway authorities tried to block their westward settlements.


The expansionist impulse behind American foreign policy was only enhanced by the American Revolution, with its call to vindicate the "unalienable rights" of "all men" — not only Americans. Just as European despots at the time thought that the safety of their regimes depended on preserving autocracy in neighboring states, so the American republic was convinced that its safety lay in championing liberty abroad. As Kagan notes, this was the view even of supposed "realists" such as Alexander Hamilton.


Admittedly, American attempts to safeguard liberty abroad were limited in the 19th century, when the U.S. was still a third-rate power. But Americans were excited by liberal revolutions, whether in Latin America, Greece or Hungary. Even John Quincy Adams — the secretary of State who said that the U.S. "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy" — horrified the monarchs of Europe by urging their subjects to rise up and seek their freedom. The Monroe Doctrine that he helped write was an attempt to keep Spain and other European autocracies from expanding their domains in the Americas.


The U.S. was not willing to fight for purely idealistic motives — something we've never done, not even in Kosovo or Iraq. But whatever other motives were present, there was a powerful idealistic impulse behind all of the nation's 19th century wars, from the War of 1812 to the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and numerous smaller forays abroad to safeguard American traders and missionaries.


Contrary to the animadversions of Iraq war critics, there is nothing new about spreading democracy at gunpoint. The central philosophy behind Manifest Destiny was the belief that Americans, as the champions of liberty, had a right to annex not only all of North America but also territories from Hawaii to the Philippines. So successful were the Americans in establishing their "empire of liberty" (Jefferson's phrase) that today almost no one realizes that the "winning of the West" was imperialism in another guise.


Properly understood, it is not the Wilsonians who are outside the mainstream of American foreign policy. It is their realpolitiker critics who seek to import an amoral approach to foreign policy that flourished in 19th century European chancelleries but has never found a home in the land of the free.

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BOOT'S LATEST
The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power  

The book was selected as one of the best books of 2002 by The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor. It also won the 2003 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award, given annually by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for the best nonfiction book pertaining to Marine Corps history. Sales help fund JWR.



Max Boot is Olin Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times. To comment, please click here.


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