Self Help

Do Morals Matter - Joseph S. Nye, Jr_

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 52 min read

“If you liked the book, you can purchase it using the links in the description below. By buying through these links, you contribute to the blog without paying any extra, as we receive a small commission. This helps us bring more quality content to you!”



  • There is a common assumption that ethics play little role in foreign policy, which is seen as primarily about national interests and power politics. However, presidents’ moral views can influence foreign policy choices and their legacies.

  • Defining and judging a “moral foreign policy” is challenging. Most decisions involve balancing competing values rather than clear-cut choices. Context is also important - what is the best moral choice given the circumstances.

  • The book examines the ethical dimensions of U.S. foreign policy under presidents from FDR to Trump. It analyzes intentions, means, and consequences of decisions rather than just intentions or results alone.

  • Good moral reasoning considers both particular actions and consequences of maintaining an institutional order that protects moral interests over time. It also includes the consequences of “non-actions.”

  • The goal is not a comprehensive history but an exercise in normative thinking to analyze how presidents’ moral views shaped foreign policy choices and how that affects our evaluations of them as leaders.

So in summary, the introduction argues that ethics do influence foreign policy decisions in meaningful ways, but defining and judging a “moral” policy is complex and requires looking at intentions, means, consequences, and context of different presidents’ actions and choices over the postwar period.

This passage discusses American moralism and exceptionalism in foreign policy. It argues that while all nations see themselves as exceptional, the U.S. and France believe their values are universal. Only the U.S., due to its power after WWII, could develop foreign policies reflecting exceptionalism.

Sources of American exceptionalism include liberal Enlightenment ideas from the founding fathers, who saw individual rights as universal. However, racism undermined the implementation of liberal values. There are different views on how to promote liberal values abroad.

Religious roots of being a “chosen people” and Puritan anxieties about virtue also contributed. In the 19th century visitors noted America’s preoccupation with virtue, progress, and decline.

Finally, America’s vast size and location, protected by oceans, allowed focus on domestic expansion until becoming a global power in the 20th century. This size and power gave the U.S. both opportunity and incentive to shape the global order, for good or ill, according to its beliefs. Debates continue over how moral and exceptional America’s foreign policy should be.

  • Woodrow Wilson tried to combine American liberal values with its growing status as a great power in the early 20th century. He promoted the idea of an international league of nations based on collective security rather than alliances in the balance of power system.

  • While Wilson’s plan for the League of Nations failed, his ideas influenced later leaders like FDR and Truman who established the liberal international order after WWII through institutions like the UN and international economic organizations.

  • The US assumed the role as the indispensable nation providing global public goods like security and economic stability after WWII as Britain declined. This led to policies like the Marshall Plan, NATO, and defending democratic states during the Cold War.

  • The liberal international order enjoyed bipartisan support during the Cold War but faced more criticism over interventions in places like Vietnam and debates over using force for democracy promotion versus containment.

  • In the 2016 election, Donald Trump capitalized on public discontent with arguments that the post-1945 order had disadvantaged the US economically and culturally, helping him gain popularity with his populist message. However, disputes over foreign policy were part of larger disagreements over issues like globalization and social changes.

  • There is a debate between realists and liberals about whether morality applies to foreign policy. Realists argue the international arena is amoral, while liberals believe basic values are universal.

  • Making moral judgments is part of human nature. Morality evolved to help large cooperative groups form without kinship ties. Moral reasoning justifies actions and defends groups.

  • Cultures express moral impulses differently, with some emphasizing care/harm/fairness and others authority/loyalty/sanctity.

  • Moral judgments come from both rational deliberation and impulsive reactions linked to parts of the brain. Within cultures, views also differ based on ideology, religion, experiences.

  • A purely realist or liberal view is too simplistic. The world has no government, many non-Western cultures, and morality is complex. But complexity does not mean morality has no role in foreign policy.

  • Constructing a framework to assess different foreign policy approaches and compare presidents in a thoughtful way could help address this important issue. But moral choices will always involve balancing many complex factors.

In summary, it outlines the debate on morality in foreign policy, discusses how humans form moral judgments, and suggests developing an evaluation framework while acknowledging the complexity of moral decision-making in foreign affairs.

  • Moral decision-making in the brain involves both emotional/intuitive processes and more reasoned/utilitarian processes, with intuition sometimes overriding reason. Effective morality balances both.

  • Individual morality draws on conscience, societal norms, and codes of one’s social roles. Religion guides some but does not provide clear answers, as interpretations vary. Scripture also contains outdated advice.

  • In foreign policy, intentions, means, and consequences all factor into ethical evaluations, not just goals or rhetoric. Good intentions don’t ensure good outcomes if means are ineffective.

  • Presidents aren’t necessarily held to the same standards as citizens regarding legality, but accountability is increasing. “Dirty hands” acknowledges leaders may have to tolerate morally compromised actions for responsibilities like national security.

  • An “ethics of conviction” prioritizes moral principles while an “ethics of responsibility” focuses on results/consequences. Effective leadership requires balancing principles and practical considerations. Politics involves hard choices and compromises between intuition and prudence.

The passage discusses the complexity of moral decision-making and foreign policy evaluations, emphasizing the need to consider multiple dimensions rather than single factors like intentions or character alone. Practical leadership often requires pragmatism as well as principled stances.

This passage discusses different ethical approaches in Western moral philosophy - rule-based or deontological ethics associated with Kant, consequentialist or utilitarian ethics associated with Bentham and Mill, and virtue ethics associated with Aristotle. It notes how these traditions emphasize different moral dimensions - intentions, means, and consequences.

It uses the example of Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan to illustrate the tensions between these approaches. Rules-based ethics considers it wrong to kill civilians, while consequentialist ethics argues it saved lives. Virtue ethics focuses on Truman’s intentions and developing good moral character over time.

The passage also discusses the role of institutions in ethics. Institutions can help resolve moral dilemmas where principles like fairness do not provide a clear answer. They enhance cooperation and reciprocity by establishing stable norms and expectations. For leaders, broadening moral discourse to include institutions and process is important, not just declaring values. An open, rules-based international order can make achieving good values more likely. While not perfect, institutions play an important role in morality.

This passage summarizes some key ideas around institutions, trust, lying, and risk-taking in foreign policy decision-making by political leaders like presidents.

Some key points:

  • Institutions help foster long-term thinking and create stability by establishing expectations of reciprocity and fairness over an indefinite future.

  • Truth matters for maintaining trust in institutions, but some argue leaders may lie or deceive in exceptional circumstances, like wartime, if the goals are for citizens’ long-term good. However, too much lying erodes credibility and trust over time.

  • Different types of lies have different moral implications - self-serving lies are worse than group-serving lies allegedly for citizens’ benefit. But deception still risks harmful precedents.

  • Presidents must weigh risks of action vs inaction, and acts of commission likely impose a greater moral duty than omissions. But failures to prevent harm can still be condemned.

  • There are debates around how prudent vs risk-taking presidents should be. Different situations may call for more fox-like or lion-like leadership styles. Judgment is needed to navigate different contexts.

  • Realist, cosmopolitan and communitarian views offer different perspectives on presidents’ moral obligations to their own citizens vs the international community.

  • Realists argue that in dire situations of national survival, leaders may need to pursue ruthless policies and violate morality to ensure the survival of their country. Some cite Churchill’s actions in World War 2 as justified examples of this.

  • However, most of international politics does not involve situations of dire survival. Leaders also have an incentive to exaggerate threats to justify immoral actions.

  • Power comes in multiple forms - coercion/force, incentives/rewards, and soft power of attraction/culture. Using only hard power through force can be costlier than combining it with soft power.

  • Cosmopolitans argue for universal human rights that transcend borders. While people hold multiple, overlapping identities, the inner circles of family/nation generate stronger duties. However, some basic humanitarian duties like rescuing a drowning child extend beyond borders.

  • Liberals believe order exists in the international system through institutions, law, norms despite the lack of a world government. Just war doctrine shows morality still applies even in war. Interdependence between states pushes cooperation through institutions over realist notions of selfish survivalism.

In summary, the key perspectives discussed involve realist acceptance of potentially immoral acts in survival situations, cosmopolitan views on universal rights balanced with duties to closer communities, and the liberal belief that institutions and interdependence allow for moral choices in international politics in most cases.

  • Presidents face difficult choices in foreign policy between prioritizing national security/realism versus human rights/cosmopolitanism. There is no single framework that fits all situations.

  • The rise of human rights law after WWII has complicated decisions, as the public wants a response to crises but is divided on intervention. Leaders are caught between moral instincts and obligations to non-interventionist followers.

  • Realism is the default position for presidents due to the sovereign state system, but cosmopolitanism and liberalism often have important contributions as well. Most presidents combine elements of all three “mental maps.”

  • Intervention is a complex issue that spans a spectrum from non-coercive actions like broadcasting to military invasion. Coerciveness and consequences are important morally.

  • No framework alone provides easy answers. Judging presidential ethics should consider if they made the “best moral choices that circumstances permit” based on a three-dimensional view incorporating security, human rights, and circumstances.

Here is a summary of the key points about realism, liberalism, and cosmopolitanism in the passage:

  • Realism: Presidents are not expected to pursue justice or values at the international level to the same extent as domestically, due to the complexity of foreign relations. Prudence and balancing interests and risks is important.

  • Liberalism: Promotes shared democratic values and human rights both domestically and internationally, as expressed in documents like the Atlantic Charter. However, presidents are still responsible trustees and need to consider context.

  • Cosmopolitanism: Presidents should avoid unnecessary damage to foreigners and consider the interests of other peoples, not just their own citizens. However, cosmopolitan values still need to be balanced with national interests and realistic limitations.

The passage advocates a multidimensional approach (3D ethics) that incorporates insights from realism, liberalism, and cosmopolitanism. It emphasizes intentions/values, means, and consequences as important factors for judging presidential foreign policy decisions in an ethical manner. Prudence, balancing risks and opportunities, and considering diverse cultural/political contexts are seen as especially important virtues.

  • The presidents who created the American order after WWII like FDR and Truman did not enter office with a grand strategy for an American or liberal international order. Foreign policy was not a top priority, especially during the Great Depression.

  • FDR began focusing on security threats from Hitler in 1938 and helped plan institutions for the postwar world like the IMF, World Bank, and UN. However, his designs assumed continued cooperation with the Soviet Union, without provisions for when that broke down.

  • Truman inherited FDR’s partly formulated plans but had little foreign policy experience as vice president. Most Americans wanted troops home and the government focused on domestic issues after WWII.

  • While FDR and Truman laid some foundations, their plans were missing parts for a postwar world that became bipolar instead of cooperating. The key was establishing that “we have learned to be citizens of the world.” Their early focus developed later into a broader vision of an American-led international order as cooperation with the Soviet Union broke down.

  • FDR was initially cautious in foreign policy due to strong isolationist sentiment among Americans. He focused on the Western Hemisphere and trade policy.

  • As Hitler rose to power in Germany, FDR gradually saw him as a threat but Americans did not share this view. FDR was ahead of public opinion but had to follow it as a democratic leader.

  • While publicly professing neutrality, FDR quietly aided the Allies through measures like the Destroyers-for-Bases deal and lend-lease. But he failed to change neutrality laws or convince Americans to support entry into the war in Europe.

  • FDR bungled relations with Japan, imposing an oil embargo but failing to monitor it closely. Pearl Harbor solved FDR’s dilemma of how to enter the war by prompting American support, though historians dispute theories it was deliberately engineered.

  • FDR was a skilled politician and actor who relied heavily on deception with the public, allies and enemies to advance his foreign policy goals and mask his disability from polio. He was also a compromiser who left people uncertain of his true beliefs.

  • FDR wanted to remain in control while also gathering multiple lines of information from staff competing with each other, an approach echoed by later presidents like Kennedy and Trump.

  • FDR always remained close to public opinion and retreated when trial balloons were shot down, though some see this as a moral failing for not acting bolder to save more Jews from Hitler or loosen immigration restrictions earlier.

  • FDR’s major deceptions were often argued to be for the greater good of educating public opinion, though some lies like about the USS Greer attack went too far and damaged trust in institutions. Determining the morality depends on intentions, impact, and whether deception was truly necessary.

  • FDR’s intentions in foreign policy were generally good in aiming to oppose Hitler and later create liberal international institutions. However, his ethical goals were limited by some insularity on issues like Jews in Europe and internment of Japanese Americans.

  • FDR’s use of force and means were often constitutional and necessary against Hitler, but deception may have been excessive at times and less prepared Americans for dealing with the Soviet Union after the war.

  • FDR’s leadership in entering WWII and establishing post-war international institutions had enormous ethical consequences for global security and order, though he was less successful in educating public opinion and Truman on cooperating with the Soviets.

  • Truman had a strong moral vision shaped by lessons from the 1930s about confronting aggression. He initially underestimated Soviet intentions but came to view them as malevolent.

  • Between 1945-1947, the US shifted from hoping for cooperation to fears of conflict with the Soviets as the Cold War emerged.

  • In 1947, Truman adopted the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan in response to Soviet pressure in Europe, marking a transformational shift.

  • Though not charismatic, Truman respected strong advisors like Acheson, Vandenberg, and Marshall who helped frame issues. However, he made tough decisions independently like confronting MacArthur.

  • Truman emphasized the moral and democratic values behind containment, shaping it as a universal commitment rather than just a balance of power policy. However, he was also pragmatic about values vs security.

  • While relying on others, Truman had his own Wilsonian worldview and understanding of America’s role that guided the formulation and implementation of containment policy.

  • Truman insisted that the Marshall Plan be named for General George Marshall rather than President Truman himself, believing it would sell “a whole hell of a lot better in Congress.”

  • Truman wanted to appeal to Congress by naming the plan after the well-respected general, thinking it would have a better chance of passing and gaining support that way. Naming programs after popular military figures was seen as an effective political strategy at the time.

  • Eisenhower avoided land wars in Korea and Vietnam that may have trapped the US. He cut overseas spending to support the domestic economy and strengthened alliances with Europe and Japan.

  • He maintained public consensus on foreign policy through an internationalist approach and rejected adventurism, like a CIA plan to arm Hungarians during the 1956 Soviet intervention.

  • Eisenhower led from behind through gentle persuasion rather than commands. He was firmly in control of foreign policy while projecting a monarchical public style.

  • He understood America’s power limits and managed crises well, avoiding major intervention in Vietnam due to the risk of getting trapped. However, he failed to educate the public on issues like the “missile gap.”

  • Eisenhower overthrew some democratic governments in Iran and Guatemala through covert actions. This undermined US standing but he felt containment required preventing communist advances.

  • He rejected numerous recommendations to use nuclear weapons, showing moral restraint. However, his public nuclear deterrent rhetoric did not match his private views on restraint.

  • Overall, Eisenhower avoided disaster through prudent crisis management and emotional self-control, but his covert interventionism damaged the US reputation in some parts of the world.

  • Eisenhower pursued nuclear weapons as a key part of deterrence, wanting them to seem normal but controlled by the president. He threatened nuclear use for coercion but advisers doubted he would actually use them.

  • Eisenhower’s public posture emphasized nuclear threats and massive retaliation, but privately he resisted recommendations for tactical nuclear weapons use. This helped reinforce the emerging taboo against nuclear weapons.

  • Eisenhower balanced values and risks prudently. His nuclear policy achieved deterrence through ambiguity while privately building the norm against use. However, he could not fully educate the public about his reservations due to the nature of nuclear deterrence signaling.

  • The administrations of Truman, Acheson and Eisenhower established a liberal international order after WW2 that integrated hard and soft power. They valued the UN but saw its limits and pursued Western security institutions like NATO when needed.

  • All three founders exhibited good moral reasoning, considering alternatives like preventive war but pursuing peaceful containment instead. Their imperfect grand strategy nonetheless created a more stable postwar environment.

  • The paranoid period of McCarthyism in the early 1950s led to bitter domestic debates over who “lost China to communism.” Each subsequent president feared shouldering the political blame for losing Vietnam.

  • None of the presidents had a deep understanding of Vietnam. However, the prevailing view in Washington was the domino theory - that if South Vietnam fell to communism, other Asian countries would follow suit. Presidents were constrained by this rhetoric even if they privately doubted it.

  • Maintaining credibility in the Cold War was a major concern for US intervention in Vietnam. The goal was 70% to avoid a “humiliating defeat,” 20% to keep Vietnam from China, and 10% to allow Vietnamese freedom.

  • In hindsight, a better metaphor may have been a game of checkers based on nationalism rather than dominoes based on ideology. Nationalism and disputes between communist countries proved more influential than the domino theory.

  • John F. Kennedy faced escalating involvement in Vietnam due to inherited plans and policies. While his rhetoric inspired, his management style was more incremental in policy than visionary. Vietnam intervention grew under his term despite his awareness of nationalism and anti-colonialism as dominant forces.

  • After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, CIA Director Richard Helms was under pressure from Kennedy to take action against Fidel Castro. This led to Operation Mongoose, a covert program aimed at overthrowing or assassinating Castro. While assassination plots against Castro were part of this operation, Helms later testified they were under pressure to do something.

  • Kennedy showed impressive leadership during the Cuban Missile Crisis by resisting military advisers calling for a preemptive strike and instead instituting a naval blockade, placing the burden on the Soviets. This likely avoided nuclear war and was in contrast to LBJ who wavered more on using force.

  • The missile crisis was also connected to tensions over Berlin. Kennedy tried to bolster conventional forces and develop a doctrine of flexible response to increase US options in Europe against Soviet pressure on West Berlin. However, some of Kennedy’s earlier actions like the Bay of Pigs and Vienna summit discussions helped enable the situation that led to the missile crisis.

  • Kennedy’s policy on Vietnam is debatable, as he resisted large-scale involvement but also used Cold War rhetoric. Before his death he aimed for withdrawal but whether he ultimately would have is uncertain given contradicting evidence. Most analyses argue he likely would have opted for disengagement or withdrawal over further escalation.

Here is a summary of the key points about the first nuclear arms control agreement in 1963 and Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency:

  • In 1963, the US and Soviet Union signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, the first nuclear arms control agreement between the two superpowers. This banned atmospheric, underwater, and outer space testing of nuclear weapons.

  • On Vietnam, Kennedy got increasingly drawn into backing the “domino theory” and greatly expanded US involvement, though it’s unclear if he would have continued down the same path after the 1964 election.

  • Lyndon B. Johnson, who became president after Kennedy’s assassination, plunged the US further into the Vietnam War through escalating military interventions and commitments of troops despite early doubts about success.

  • Johnson accomplished major domestic reforms as “The Great Society” programs on civil rights, voting rights, education, and poverty. But his legacy is overshadowed by the unpopular Vietnam War that ruined his presidency.

  • While initially reluctant to expand the war, Johnson gradually bought into recommendations for escalation from 1964-1965 and ramped up bombings and troop deployments, becoming “a prisoner of his own propaganda” as the war spiraled out of control.

  • Lyndon Johnson deeply personalized the Vietnam issue due to his personal insecurities and fears of being seen as a coward. This complicated his decision-making and policy choices.

  • Johnson prioritized his “Great Society” domestic agenda and feared anything that could threaten its passage, including appearing weak on communism. This contributed to deceptive escalation in Vietnam.

  • While Johnson inherited the war, his massive 1965 escalation greatly expanded U.S. involvement and costs with little consideration of alternative options.

  • Johnson lacked emotional intelligence and his personal needs became disastrously intertwined with public policy on Vietnam. He became obsessed with proving Kennedy would have continued escalation.

  • Retrospective analyses found Johnson’s fixation on short-term political goals and inability to adequately address Vietnam’s complexities contributed to failure.

  • Johnson’s ethical scorecard is mixed - his stated intentions were similar to Kennedy’s but were compromised by personal motives. His means and resulting consequences earned poor marks in terms of discrimination, respect for rights, minimizing damage to others, and credibility with the public.

  • Richard Nixon was born in 1913 in California and raised in a Quaker tradition that emphasized moral values. However, Gergen argues Nixon did not bring a moral framework to politics himself.

  • Nixon had modest financial circumstances growing up and graduated from Whittier College. He entered politics early and served as Eisenhower’s Vice President.

  • Nixon developed a reputation as an anti-Communist but was also a pragmatist, not an ideologue. He helped tame McCarthy.

  • Nixon’s major foreign policy accomplishments were opening relations with China, détente with the Soviet Union, and ultimately ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam. However, his economic policies exacerbated inflation and he supported authoritarian regimes in places like Chile and Pakistan.

  • On Vietnam specifically, Nixon inherited a difficult situation but is accused of sabotaging Johnson’s 1968 peace negotiations. He withdrew U.S. troops gradually but continued bombing campaigns that caused casualties. The 1973 peace deal was not much different than what was already on the table in 1968.

  • Ending the war involved difficult moral trade-offs between credibility and lives lost. Nixon prioritized a “decent interval” between U.S. withdrawal and the fall of South Vietnam, even if it cost additional lives in the interim.

Based on the details provided, here is a summary of the net assessment of the morality of Richard Nixon’s foreign policy:

  • Nixon’s publicly expressed goals of containing Communism and upholding American leadership were good in intention. However, his personal motives and insecurity undermined his moral vision at times.

  • While prudent in balancing values and risks in most cases, he lacked prudence in handling certain situations like Bangladesh and the bombing of Cambodia.

  • His use of force in Vietnam cannot be considered proportionate or discriminating. His actions failed to respect rights and institutions in cases like Chile and Bangladesh.

  • He had mixed success in serving American strategic interests through openings like China, but was negligent on economic policy and incurred high costs in lives and credibility by dragging out the Vietnam War.

  • His efforts to minimize harm to others were poor, as seen in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Chile.

  • Nixon undermined trust in government through prolonged deception over Vietnam and secrecy taken to extreme levels like the Plumbers unit and enemies lists. This hurt broader moral and political discourse.

Overall, while Nixon had some foreign policy successes, his willingness to sacrifice lives and integrity for political gain, coupled with failures on human rights and transparency, mean his foreign policy moral record is negative on balance. The means he used in Vietnam and beyond significantly outweighed the ends.

Here is a summary of Gerald Ford’s presidency with regards to his Great Society program and the Vietnam War:

  • Ford inherited a struggling economy burdened by both LBJ’s Great Society spending and the costs of the Vietnam War. Inflation was skyrocketing.

  • He granted a full pardon to Nixon in an attempt to move past the Watergate scandal, but this was widely unpopular and damaged his approval ratings.

  • The Vietnam War effectively ended under Ford, as South Vietnam fell to Communist forces in April 1975. Ford had pushed Congress for additional aid to South Vietnam but was rejected. The fall was a symbolic defeat for the US.

  • Ford did authorize military responses in the Mayaguez Incident and Panmunjom axe murder incident to boost US credibility following Vietnam. However, he avoided larger military commitments.

  • Domestically, Ford struggled with a weak economy, lagging approval ratings, and political fallout from Vietnam and Watergate. These factors hampered his ability to advance a broad policy agenda.

In summary, Ford inherited serious economic and political challenges resulting directly from LBJ’s Great Society programs and the costs and outcome of the Vietnam War. His presidency was shaped by managing the post-Vietnam fallout and economic issues rather than advancing new policy initiatives.

Here is a summary of the key points about Jimmy Carter’s ethical scorecard and foreign policy:

  • Carter had a strong moral vision based on his Christian faith and saw the US as a promoter of morality in international relations, especially human rights. However, his moralism was not blind triumphalism.

  • He inherited difficult circumstances with the end of the Vietnam War and stagflation/energy crises. The Cold War competition was intensifying.

  • Carter was principled and honest but not a natural politician. He focused more on policy solutions than coalition-building, which made it hard to unite his fractious party.

  • On intentions and motives, Carter pursued what he saw as the right thing to do based on ethical principles rather than political expediency. But this idealism did not always achieve desired outcomes.

  • In means, Carter avoided unnecessary use of force that risked American lives. But some of his stands on human rights, like halting arms sales to Ethiopia, were criticized for potential negative consequences.

  • On consequences, Carter had some successes but also struggled to balance ideals and realpolitik given the challenging geopolitical situation. His stance on human rights influenced some others positively but also brought risks.

  • Overall assessment is that Carter was principled but his moralistic approach did not always achieve practical results, which limited his effectiveness as a foreign policy leader during that period.

Here is a summary of Carter’s key foreign policy accomplishments and challenges as president:

  • Negotiated a peaceful transfer of the Panama Canal back to Panama in 1978, improving US relations in Latin America. This was a major accomplishment despite facing political opposition.

  • Brokered the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel in 1978, reaching a breakthrough in the Middle East peace process.

  • Slowed the proliferation of nuclear weapons through diplomatic efforts, against expectations that proliferation would accelerate rapidly.

  • Raised the priority of human rights issues in US foreign policy, bringing more attention but also tension to relations with Cold War allies.

  • Achieved full diplomatic recognition of China.

  • Negotiated arms control talks with the Soviet Union, culminating in the SALT II agreement in 1979.

  • After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979, Carter reversed post-Vietnam defense cuts and issued the Carter Doctrine defending US interests in the Persian Gulf region.

However, Carter struggled to present a coherent foreign policy and manage tensions between diplomatic vs military advisors. His foreign policy was ultimately undermined by the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which he was unable to influence through support of the Shah despite warnings. Overall, Carter had successes but faced challenges in explaining and promoting his foreign policy vision.

  • In the late 1970s, the US was depressed due to economic problems, the hostage crisis in Iran, and perceptions that the Soviet Union was growing in power.

  • However, the reality was that the Soviet Union was suffering serious economic decline due to the inflexibility of its centrally planned economy. It could not keep up with technological changes like the digital revolution.

  • The Soviet system was designed for heavy industry but struggled to adapt to an information-driven economy. Planning was slow and the secrecy of the system hindered information flow.

  • By the 1980s, the Soviet defense budget could no longer be sustained by its deteriorating economy. Gorbachev recognized the need for reforms but faced resistance.

  • Under Reagan and Bush, the US regained confidence and went on the offensive against the Soviet Union. But the real credit goes to misperceptions in the 1970s underestimating the internal weaknesses of the Soviet system. By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union collapsed, ending the Cold War.

  • The passage discusses Ronald Reagan’s background, ideology, and presidency. It notes he came from a modest family in Illinois and had a career in Hollywood before entering politics as a Republican.

  • As president, Reagan restored American confidence with his optimism and communication skills. However, he was hands-off on details and delegation, which lead to issues like the Iran-Contra scandal.

  • Regarding the Cold War, Reagan aimed to reverse détente and pressure the Soviet Union through rhetoric and military buildup. The Soviets were strained by this and their own economic problems.

  • Reagan was ultimately pragmatic in negotiations, working constructively with Gorbachev. But the deepest causes of the Soviet collapse were structural issues within their economy and ideology, not purely Reagan’s actions. Gorbachev’s reforms accelerated this collapse, though that was not his intention. The end of the Cold War had inevitable, underlying causes more than it was caused by any single leader.

  • Troika - Refers to the transitional leadership structure in the Soviet Union in the 1980s with Gorbachev, Ligachev, and Yegor Ligachev.

  • Glasnost - Gorbachev’s policy of increasing openness, transparency, freedom of information in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

  • New thinking in foreign policy - Gorbachev’s push for reforms in Soviet foreign policy away from confrontation and toward more cooperation, especially with the West.

  • Gorbachev did not intend to undo the Soviet Union, but his reforms of glasnost and perestroika had the unintended consequence of weakening the Soviet system to the point of collapse. By pulling on the thread of reform, he ended up unraveling the entire Soviet “sweater.”

  • Ronald Reagan is often cited as an example of a strong moral leader in foreign policy due to his clear anti-Soviet rhetoric and vision of democracy triumphing over communism. However, his early rhetoric also increased tensions and risks, showing both strengths and weaknesses in balancing aspirations and risks.

  • Reagan had mixed record in terms of means used - some actions like Iran-Contra undermined domestic and international legal norms, while his rhetoric did help broaden moral discourse. Overall, he advanced US interests but some actions like in Central America raised ethical issues.

  • George H.W. Bush presided over the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 in a prudent, risk-averse manner. There were some misunderstandings around NATO expansion verbally but no formal promises were broken.

  • Bush supported German reunification against the advice of some, contributing to transformation. Some fault him for not extending this vision to other regions like Eastern Europe or Russia.

  • His vision was one of modest realism rather than ambitious transformation. He organized the Gulf War coalition skillfully but did not develop a broader vision for issues like Israel/Palestine, nonproliferation, or democracy promotion in Russia.

  • Bush prioritized stability over bold new objectives during a time of fluid change. He let Europe take the lead on Yugoslavia and maintained relations with China after Tiananmen Square to limit risks.

  • Though a middling president overall, Bush excelled in foreign policy by presiding over the end of the Cold War and German reunification successfully without catastrophe. His prudent, restrained style helped manage major global transformations.

The uncharacteristic intervention by the US to broker peace talks in Haiti set the scene for the first major crisis for President Bill Clinton. While Clinton represented a new generation that did not experience WWII or Vietnam, he still had to navigate American foreign policy during an unprecedented period of unipolar dominance following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Critics argue this opened the door for American hubris and overreach without the constraints of bipolar competition, though others note the American public and foreign policy establishment were not universally eager for an expansion of US hegemony. Clinton, the first president of the post-Cold War era, had to find his footing amid these complex dynamics as he pursued American interests abroad during this unipolar moment.

  • Bill Clinton was both one of the smartest and dumbest presidents in some ways. He wanted the most ethical administration but was impeached over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

  • His sexual conduct harmed trust in his presidency but did not directly affect foreign policy. However, it competed for his time and attention.

  • Clinton had more political experience and skills than Carter but took a pragmatic approach rather than moralistic stance. He supported controversial policies like NAFTA despite public opinion.

  • Clinton initially aimed to strengthen UN peacekeeping but scaled back after failures in Somalia. He was criticized for inaction during the Rwanda genocide of 1994.

  • He debated interventions in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo throughout the 1990s. Actions in Haiti and Bosnia were considered successes while Somalia failed and Rwanda was a failure of inaction.

  • Clinton embraced engaging former enemies and expanding free markets and democracy globally. He relied on economic initiatives and globalization rather than military might alone. Policies included NAFTA, WTO, and managing the Asian financial crisis with the IMF.

  • Clinton pursued an engagement policy toward China, hoping to integrate it into the international liberal order through trade and economic growth. Some argue he was naive to think this would lead to political liberalization.

  • His policy also included a realist component of strengthening the US-Japan security alliance as a hedge against China. This balanced liberal engagement with realist containment.

  • Clinton invested efforts in Middle East peace negotiations but was ultimately unsuccessful due to the obstacles involved. He had more success promoting peace in Northern Ireland.

  • His Russia policy faced challenges as Yeltsin weakened and political turmoil grew. Clinton tried economic aid and inviting Russia into international institutions but democratic reforms faced domestic resistance.

  • NATO expansion stabilized Central Europe but antagonized Russia. Critics argue this was premature while supporters say it helped unite and democratize the region.

  • Clinton took some actions against terrorism like missile strikes on al-Qaeda targets in 1998 but was ultimately criticized for not making it more of a priority before 9/11.

  • Overall, Clinton combined prudent application of military force with a preference for diplomacy and strengthening international institutions. His foreign policy achieved many US interests and left international relations in a reasonably stable position at the end of his term.

  • Clinton was criticized by Brzezinski for failing to fully articulate a vision for the post-Cold War world.

  • Clinton’s credibility and ability to broaden moral discourse were undercut by his looseness with the truth regarding his personal affairs.

  • However, the passage says Clinton’s overall record and scorecard on key issues like intentions, means, and consequences was generally quite good.

  • In contrast, while Bush entered office with good intentions, his presidency was marked by significant failures in management and organization that had serious moral consequences, particularly regarding the Iraq war and occupation.

  • Bush transformed U.S. foreign policy dramatically after 9/11 but lacked Clinton’s experience, and his presidency became defined by over-reliance on some advisers like Cheney and misguided decisions on Iraq based on faulty intelligence.

So in summary, it evaluates Clinton positively overall despite flaws, while being quite critical of Bush’s management failures and the impacts of decisions like the Iraq war.

  • The invasion of Iraq in 2003 without UN approval and poor postwar planning is considered a major foreign policy disaster on par with the Vietnam War. Over 4,500 US soldiers died and costs have exceeded $5 trillion.

  • Removing Saddam Hussein was relatively easy but post-invasion chaos allowed Al Qaeda and later ISIS to flourish. Iran’s influence increased as America’s reputation suffered from abuses like torture at Abu Ghraib.

  • The invasion distracted from problems in Afghanistan and North Korea testing nuclear weapons. The Chilcot Report concluded the invasion was “neither right nor necessary.”

  • Motivations included realist fears of Iraqi WMDs, increasing US hegemony, and neoconservative beliefs that democratizing Iraq could combat terrorism. Bush emphasized spreading democracy as justifications after no WMDs were found.

  • Poor planning and inadequate understanding of the context undercut Bush’s objectives despite the quick toppling of Saddam’s regime. Hubris and impatience hindered Bush’s learning and management of the war and occupation.

  • While initially using force proportionately in Afghanistan, Bush failed proportionality standards in Iraq where civilian deaths were high. His use of torture and extraordinary rendition are also criticized, though curtailed in his second term.

  • In sum, the costs of the war in Iraq overshadow Bush’s foreign policy successes. As a fiduciary of American interests, his decision-making on Iraq is considered a failure due to immense costs and strategic consequences.

  • At the start of the 21st century, American power seemed supreme under Bush’s unipolar foreign policy reflecting the hubris of that moment.

  • However, two major shifts in global power distribution had begun - a horizontal transition among states and a vertical diffusion of power from states to non-state actors due to technology.

  • The horizontal transition involved the rise of powers like China and India, which all three presidents (Bush, Obama, Trump) resisted seeing as “decline” while maintaining relations. Russia also remained important.

  • The vertical diffusion of power to non-state actors like terrorists through technology was novel and difficult to manage, as seen on 9/11. Al Qaeda’s attack had profound indirect effects despite little direct impact.

  • Bush tried to fit the non-state terrorist threat into a traditional interstate framework, but it was a poor match as terrorists can grievously damage stronger powers through leverage rather than direct defeat.

  • All three presidents struggled to maintain control over issues crossing borders outside of state control in the context of growing transnational networks and diffusion of power.

  • While the actual number of people killed by terrorists is small, public fear of terrorism far exceeds the real threat. Terrorism aims to shock nations into counterproductive actions through violence. Al Qaeda succeeded in capturing attention and influencing the agenda with the 9/11 attacks.

  • The Iraq War removed Saddam Hussein but did not resolve the terrorism problem and instead increased it, costing nearly 5,000 American lives and trillions of dollars. It also diminished America’s soft power and popularity internationally.

  • Both Obama and Trump viewed Bush’s Iraq War as a major foreign policy mistake. Obama aimed to retreat from overcommitments abroad but still maintain American global leadership for 50 more years. Trump promised to make America great again through a similar retrenchment in means but not ends.

  • Barack Obama entered office amid economic crisis and aimed to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His record on transforming foreign policy and international cooperation was mixed, as circumstances often required a more pragmatic reaction to ongoing crises.

  • Obama aimed to avoid long and costly military conflicts, focusing more on short-term consequences than shaping history. This earned criticism that his strategy lacked clear priorities.

  • In Libya, Obama sought UN and Arab League approval for intervention to protect civilians, but mission shifted to regime change without a post-Qaddafi plan.

  • Obama saw leadership as agenda-setting and catalytic rather than directive, pulling others together to solve problems. But the Middle East required traditional power politics.

  • Critics argue Obama was too cautious to take advantage of revolutionary times in the Middle East, though his cautious approach earned praise from realists.

  • Syria became a contentious issue, with Obama unable to gain support for strikes after chemical weapons use despite being a “red line.” This damaged his credibility.

  • Obama had successes on global economic crisis response, climate change agreement, nuclear reductions, but remained consumed by Middle East issues despite aiming to pivot to Asia.

So in summary, the passage discusses debates around Obama’s strategic approach, criticisms of being too cautious or lacking clear priorities, and both successes and struggles he faced, particularly with complex Middle East conflicts.

  • Obama pursued ambitious foreign policy goals of maintaining US primacy and promoting liberal international order through diplomacy and multilateral cooperation. He led efforts at the UN and G-20 to sanction Iran over its nuclear program and negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

  • Obama’s efforts to denuclearize North Korea and reset relations with Russia faced challenges. Relations deteriorated after Russian actions in Ukraine and election interference.

  • Obama tried to “rebalance” US focus from the Middle East to Asia through increased engagement with China, Japan, Korea, Australia and India. However, some criticize that he did not push back enough on China’s trade practices.

  • On the use of force, Obama tended towards restraint and prudence but was still criticized by some as not going far enough on human rights issues. He developed new technologies like drone strikes but also faced criticism over targeted killings.

  • Overall, Obama’s intentions appear principled and aimed at maintaining international order. His means respected liberal values and institutions. The consequences of his foreign policy are mixed but generally seen as furthering US interests in a challenging global environment.

  • Trump utilized an unpredictable style and populist messaging in his 2016 campaign that got extensive media coverage and helped him win unexpectedly against Hillary Clinton despite losing the popular vote.

  • Contrary to expectations, after the election Trump did not move to the political center but continued appealing to his base. This solidified his control over the Republican party.

  • Trump also governed in an unconventional style, making announcements on Twitter and having frequent staff changes. This undercut administration coherence but kept him setting the agenda.

  • Trump took protectionist stances on trade and a nationalist “America First” approach to foreign policy, challenging the post-WWII international order. He withdrew from agreements and criticized allies.

  • Trump’s strategic priorities shifted from terrorism to competition with China and Russia. His administration invested less in soft power and diplomacy compared to defense.

  • Critics argued Trump and Obama both supported a form of retrenchment, though they differed in style, while neoconservatives saw this consensus as dangerous and limiting America’s role.

  • While Trump took some actions that upheld democracy and human rights, like punishing Syria for chemical attacks, his rhetoric did not strongly embrace these values like previous presidents. He praised authoritarian leaders and attacked the free press.

  • Supporters argued that Trump’s disruption could benefit US interests if it led to outcomes like curbing Iran or China. Critics said the damage to alliances and institutions would outweigh any benefits.

  • Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy, prioritizing commercial interests over human rights, represented a break from past presidents.

  • His high rate of false or misleading claims undercut trust in the US. Supporters said all politicians lie, but critics argued the scale and self-serving nature of Trump’s lies debased honesty.

  • Trump’s temperament and lack of emotional/contextual intelligence often allowed personal needs to interfere with policy goals. His challenging of intelligence assessments and embrace of authoritarian praise over allies damaged US credibility and leadership.

So in summary, while Trump took some unilateral actions supported by some, his approach broadly represented a rupture in promoting democracy and human rights, prioritizing self-interest over alliances, and relying more on confrontation than cooperative leadership. Critics argued the costs outweighed potential benefits.

Here is a tentative summary of the key points:

  • Trump’s foreign policy vision is narrowly focused on American self-interest without regard for allies and institutions. His stated values downplay democracy and human rights.

  • His personal needs and desire for validation often skewed policy implementation in harmful ways, like after summits with Putin and Kim. Declaring success prematurely weakened US positions.

  • In terms of means, the use of force was sometimes proportionate but he showed little respect for international laws and institutions. Backing the Saudi bombing in Yemen raised humanitarian concerns.

  • Early consequences included damaging relations with allies, loss of trust in institutions, and prioritizing politics over human lives in decisions like withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

  • A full assessment of consequences will require more time. At this stage, some decisions show an approach where personal interests took priority over lives and long-term interests.

  • While disruptive diplomacy pursued nationalist goals, Trump’s approaches narrowed moral discourse and damaged soft power, though long-term impacts are still uncertain.

  • Most critics assign Trump poor grades so far for upholding ethical standards of good intentions, prudent means respecting others’ rights, consideration of consequences, and contribution to moral/policy discourse. However, a definitive judgment requires more distance.

In summary, the analysis finds Trump’s foreign policy to be largely driven by narrow self-interest and lacking in ethical standards of responsible statecraft according to most contemporary observers, though the full impacts remain to be seen over time.

  • The founding presidents of the post-WW2 order (FDR, Truman, Eisenhower) generally had moral intentions and consequences in their foreign policies, though sometimes fell short in their means/use of force.

  • The Vietnam era presidents, especially Johnson and Nixon, rated poorly in their motives, means, and consequences regarding Vietnam.

  • Ford and Carter had notably moral foreign policies across intentions, means, and impacts but their tenures were brief.

  • Reagan and Bush Sr. also scored well across all three dimensions of morality in foreign policy.

  • The years after the Cold War produced more mixed results among Clinton, Obama, Bush Jr., and Trump.

  • Prudence is an important virtue in foreign policy given unintended consequences of war. Eisenhower showed prudence in Vietnam compared to Kennedy and Johnson.

  • Moral decisions involve balancing conviction and responsibility. Presidents must consider both principle and prudence.

  • Context shapes the moral choices available to a president. Judging failures to foresee consequences is tricky. Overall, contextual intelligence separated presidents like Johnson, Bush Jr., and Trump from others. Survival is the primary duty, but post-survival choices impacted morality ratings.

  • While providing humanitarian aid to Somalia in 1992 likely did not require anticipating later problems, George W. Bush should have foreseen the enormous long-term costs of invading Iraq in 2003. Presidents must exercise due diligence to avoid disproportionate unintended consequences of military interventions.

  • Americans support foreign policy values beyond just security, like promoting justice, human rights, and humanitarian aims internationally through aid and assistance. This includes refugee protection and public health initiatives.

  • Moral crusades are not popular, but respect for other countries’ human rights and institutions is important. Gross rights violations require reaction, as with Clinton, Obama, and Trump’s challenges.

  • A range of intervention means exist, from condemnations to full-scale invasions, but military force often fails or backfires. Good ends must align with achievable means.

  • While imperfect, pre-Trump presidents generally supported international cooperation through institutions, treaties, and norms. But institutions can also constrain American power and priorities.

  • A president’s secrecy, interventions, and trustworthiness deeply impact moral discourse and public opinion over the long run. Excessive covert actions and later revelations corrode trust in government.

  • William Casey’s CIA conducted covert actions in Central America during the Reagan administration that were controversial.

  • Oliver North organized illegal operations related to the Iran-Contra affair out of the White House. This almost led to Reagan’s impeachment.

  • Clinton was impeached over lies about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, showing presidents can face consequences for dishonesty.

  • The long-term effects of Trump’s unprecedented number of false statements on policy and credibility are still unknown. Independent of Trump, problems like fake news, social media manipulation, and AI-altered images threaten public discourse.

  • International polls show Trump’s falsehoods have significantly reduced trust in the United States abroad. American soft power comes partly from civil society, not just government. Trust and influence can recover over time, as they did after Vietnam protests, but loss of trust has short-term costs.

  • U.S. foreign policy attitudes have always oscillated between internationalism and isolationism in reaction to previous eras. Moralism in policy does not make Americans more moral but affects self-perception and sometimes policies. Support for interventionism wanes over time as costs rise. Credibility issues create moral dilemmas for presidents around the use of military and non-military means to promote values.

  • Two major power shifts are challenging the post-WW2 liberal global order. The first is the rise of new economic powers like Japan, Southeast Asian nations, China, and India. This has increased economic interdependence globally.

  • The rise of Chinese power in particular presents dangers of a “Thucydides trap” where a major war could erupt due to fear from the established power (US) of a rising new power (China). Some experts fear a global conflict similar to pre-WW1 and WW2 eras.

  • The second power shift is driven by technology - Moore’s Law and the information revolution have empowered non-state actors and increased transnational issues beyond government control.

  • The rise of China will significantly impact global power dynamics but its economy and military are still smaller than the US overall. Some projections have China surpassing the US economy by 2030-2050.

  • However, the US still maintains advantages in geography, energy independence, military spending, and the role of the US dollar that will endure. Successful management is needed to avoid conflict arising from misperceptions of China’s rise.

  • China lacks honest government, rule of law, and these will not be developed quickly. However, China also risks damaging its own economy if it divests from US dollars.

  • While the dollar’s dominance may fade over time, the yuan is unlikely to replace it in the near future due to US demographic advantages and leadership in technologies like AI.

  • US alliances, open immigration policies, and strong universities and research give it strengths against China. However, maintaining dominance requires improving domestic policies more than external sanctions.

  • As China’s power and influence within international institutions grow, it poses challenges but has also benefited greatly from the existing world order. Its role and respect for international law and norms will be important to watch.

  • No country will replace the US overall in the next few decades. Cooperation between the US and China will be important to producing global public goods, but this is uncertain given tensions over issues like technology and China’s authoritarian policies.

  • Maintaining Asian alliances will help balance Chinese power regionally. The future may involve more issue-by-issue cooperation and competition between the US and China rather than rigid blocs. But careful management will be needed to avoid miscalculation.

Technological change is shifting power away from governments and toward non-state actors. Issues like financial stability, climate change, terrorism, cybercrime and pandemics are now global issues that governments have difficulty controlling due to factors like decentralized technologies empowering diverse non-state groups.

This complexity is challenging traditional realist models of great power dominance or concert. A third possibility is “entropy,” where lack of coordination prevents meaningful action. Rapid tech change puts new moral issues on the agenda for leaders. While nuclear weapons were largely controlled by governments, new IT and biotech developments emerge from the private sector beyond full monitoring or control.

Individuals, companies, NGOs and terrorist networks now directly impact world politics through information sharing. Government control of agendas is weakening as information spreads faster. Isolation is not an option due to vulnerabilities in infrastructure, economies and information networks. Democracies are learning their openness can be exploited through disinformation campaigns.

Developing successful cybersecurity and information norms will be challenging and require public diplomacy, defense strategies, and democratic resilience without undermining open values. Leaders face difficult choices regarding new technologies like autonomous weapons and targeted killings.

Here are the key moral choices presidents may face regarding autonomous systems:

  • Accountability for actions. Who is responsible if an autonomous system causes unintended harm - the system designers, the human deployers, or no one? Presidents will need to determine appropriate accountability frameworks.

  • Transparency and explainability. How much transparency is needed into autonomous systems’ decision-making to ensure just, fair and reasonable actions? Presidents may face pressures to restrict access for security or proprietary reasons while also enabling oversight.

  • Human judgment override. Should autonomous systems always be subject to immediate human override or judgment, or can some level of independent operation be permitted? Presidents will have to balance autonomy, accountability and risks.

  • Domestic and international rules. Presidents will likely need to work with Congress and international partners to set rules and norms around the responsible use of autonomous technologies, especially those with military applications operating abroad. This is complex with no agreement yet on standards.

  • Unintended consequences. As autonomous systems operate at large scales and for long periods, unintended and hard to anticipate consequences may emerge that presidents have to address, from economic disruptions to strategic surprises. Limited human foresight complicates policy making.

So in summary, presidents will face complex moral questions around balancing technological progress with accountability, safety, transparency and international cooperation as autonomous systems increasingly impact geopolitics, security and sovereignty. Careful governance approaches will be needed.

  • The US will continue to face temptations to intervene in other countries due to global crises like terrorism, refugees and humanitarian issues. However, attempts at invasion and occupation or coercive democracy promotion have often backfired.

  • The Middle East is likely to experience political and religious upheavals for decades, similar to the Thirty Years War in Europe. This will create pressures to intervene but the US should avoid large-scale military interventions.

  • Past periods of overcommitment through escalated wars, like in Vietnam and Iraq, damaged the domestic consensus needed to support an open international order. The hard choices will be forms of limited involvement short of large military action.

  • Political polarization and demagoguery in the US undermine its ability to lead on global challenges through diplomacy, institutions and policy cooperation. This reduces America’s soft power internationally.

  • Maintaining international security, economic and environmental institutions is an important part of values promotion. Institutions indirectly support values by enabling cooperation on global issues.

  • The damage under Trump was greater to economic institutions than security alliances, but global cooperation on issues like climate change was still weakened.

  • Total withdrawal is not possible due to global interdependence, but unilateralism and isolation also fail to address shared global challenges like pandemics, climate change and technology disruptions. Limited, multilateral leadership through partnerships and institutions is needed.

  • The choices involved in leadership and foreign policy are less clear now compared to the era of American primacy after WWII. The US no longer has preponderant power and the world is more complex.

  • The next president will face the moral challenge of defining a foreign policy where the US provides global public goods in cooperation with others, using both hard power and soft power to attract cooperation.

  • Soft power based on an open ethnic culture, liberal democratic values, and legitimate policies was important to American foreign policy success in the past.

  • International order depended on the leading state combining power and legitimacy through principles like Wilsonian reciprocity and Jeffersonian respect for other opinions.

  • Nativist politics that narrow the US’s moral vision at home may threaten foreign policy success more than the rise of other powers abroad. Cooperation with foreign partners based on soft power will be important as the US faces new transnational problems.

  • The passage discusses Francis Fukuyama’s article “Against Identity Politics” in Foreign Affairs.

  • It notes that according to Fukuyama, over the past few decades democracies have tripled, world economic output has quadrupled, and the proportion of people in extreme poverty has dropped in half.

  • This signals significant improvements in human development and standards of living globally in recent decades. However, Fukuyama warns that identity politics poses challenges and risks undermining this progress.

This passage summarizes references and sources related to American foreign policy leadership from Franklin Roosevelt through the Kennedy administration. It discusses historians’ assessments of various presidents and foreign policy decisions using citations from books and articles on topics like FDR’s internationalism prior to WWII, the Marshall Plan, Harry Truman’s decisions around NATO and the Korean War, Eisenhower’s “hidden-hand” approach, and John F. Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The summaries are focused on analyzing leadership qualities and how different presidents approached foreign relations.

Here is a summary of the source information provided:

  • Caro, The Path to Power (1982) provides details on Lyndon Johnson’s early life and political career in Texas, specifically mentioning aspects on pages 96 and 32.

  • Berman (“Lyndon B. Johnson,” 139, 144) discusses Johnson’s early life and political approach.

  • Caro in the preface to The Path to Power (xvii) outlines his aims in writing the biography.

  • Peters’s biography of Johnson (Lyndon B. Johnson, 8) touches on his early political career.

  • Goodwin’s biography of Johnson (Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, 251-52) examines his relationship with JFK.

  • Roper (“John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson,” 114) analyzes the partnership between the two leaders.

  • Logevall’s New York Times article (“Why Lyndon Johnson Dropped Out”) discusses Johnson withdrawing from the 1968 election.

  • Additional sources provide context on Johnson’s presidency, policy decisions on Vietnam, relationship with advisors, and legacy. Analysis of later presidents like Nixon, Ford and Carter is also referenced regarding their foreign policy approaches and impacts.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • The article analyzes the foreign policy of the post-Cold War era from 1991-2018 under various US presidents.

  • It argues that after the Cold War, President George H.W. Bush pursued a policy of cautious primacy aimed at maintaining US leadership while reducing military commitments.

  • President Clinton continued this approach but added more emphasis on expanding trade and democracy. However, his foreign policy lacked consistency and focus at times.

  • Following 9/11, President George W. Bush adopted a more assertive unilateralism aimed at combating terrorism and promoting democracy globally, though with mixed results. The Iraq war became a significant overextension and distraction.

  • President Obama sought to rebalance US engagement globally and rely more on multilateral cooperation and diplomacy. But he was criticized for not following through forcefully in some areas like Syria and for underestimating challenges from Russia and China.

  • President Trump has taken a much more unilateral America First approach that has unsettled US allies and disrupted prior strategies, though the long term impacts remain uncertain.

  • The article evaluates the foreign policy legacy and challenges faced by each administration during this pivotal post-Cold War period of transition and changes in the international order.

Here is a summary of the passage without any direct quotes:

The passage discusses America’s role in the world and the current international order. It notes that some see a decline in American power and leadership, while others argue the situation is more nuanced. It considers factors like China’s rise economically and its influence through initiatives like the Belt and Road project. Technological changes and their impact on power are also mentioned. Views on whether a power transition is occurring between the US and China are discussed. The integrity and stability of the current international order is assessed. Options for American strategy going forward are briefly touched on, such as reinvesting in alliances and upholding international laws and institutions. Overall it provides an overview of debates around America’s global role and the trajectory of the international system.

Here is a summary of the key points about American exceptionalism and presidents’ foreign policy ethics from the provided readings:

  • American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States has a unique role and mission in world affairs based on its values of democracy, liberty, and individualism derived from Enlightenment ideas. However, it is questioned due to contradictions with racism and lack of multilateralism.

  • After WWII, the US led the Liberal International Order to spread liberal democratic values and open trade. Presidents like Truman and Eisenhower pursued containment of communism through alliances like NATO.

  • The Vietnam War undermined American moral authority during Johnson’s presidency due to deception around the Gulf of Tonkin incident and massive loss of life. It contributed to the decline of credibility of exceptionalism.

  • The CIA conducted covert actions under various presidents that damaged trust in the US due to lack of transparency, like in Cuba, Chile, and against al-Qaeda.

  • presidents are judged based on their contextual intelligence, emotional intelligence, consequences of actions, and use of force/intervention according to just war principles and humanitarian values. Deception, failures of intelligence, and misuse of power undermine ethics.

  • ending the Cold War peacefully under George H.W. Bush demonstrated restraint and diplomacy. But the Iraq War under George W. Bush eroded ethics due to overreach and intelligence failures.

  • Differences remain on when and how exceptionalism and intervention according to responsibility to protect can be applied, like in Rwanda under Clinton or Syria under Obama.

multilateralism. This raises questions about sustaining American moral leadership role.

Here is a summary of the key points around the migration crisis from pages 163-164:

  • The migration crisis in Europe emerged as a major issue in 2015, as over 1 million refugees from conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan arrived in Europe seeking asylum.

  • This placed significant strain on countries like Germany which accepted over 800,000 asylum applications that year. It fueled concerns about immigration and national identity across Europe.

  • The crisis highlighted the need for reform of the EU’s asylum system which struggled to cope with the large influx of migrants. It also led some member states like Hungary to take matters into their own hands by building border fences.

  • The migration crisis exacerbated political divisions within Europe over immigration policy. Right-wing populist parties gained support by calling for stronger borders and more restrictions on asylum.

  • Resolving the crisis required cooperation and burden-sharing across EU member states, as well as efforts to address the root causes of migration through foreign policy in places like Syria and Afghanistan. But agreeing on a common EU approach remained elusive.

In summary, the migration crisis of 2015 severely tested Europe’s open border system and solidarity, while fueling a rise in anti-immigration populism across the continent. It highlighted the need for EU reform and coordination on asylum policy.

  • ade, Walter, 110 - These are three data points that were provided but no context about what they refer to.

  • The passage discusses different schools of thought in international relations and foreign policy: cosmopolitanism, liberalism, and realism.

  • It discusses the concept of a “moral foreign policy” and debates around values, intervention, lies/misleading means, and moral judgments.

  • Ethical Scorecards are mentioned as a tool for contextual, three-dimensional moral reasoning when making foreign policy decisions.

  • Several US presidents are discussed in terms of their foreign policy decisions and ethical leadership, including how they scored on the Ethical Scorecard dimensions of intentions, consequences, means, and virtues. Presidents mentioned include Nixon, Reagan, Obama, and others.

  • Key historical events, crises, and international organizations are also briefly summarized in the context of discussing different presidents’ foreign policies, such as NATO, Vietnam War, Cold War, Iran-Contra affair, and more.

  • The passage provides an overview of different theoretical perspectives on moral foreign policy and uses examples from US history to illustrate the challenges of ethical leadership and decision-making in international relations.

Here is a summary of key details about Jiaotong University’s ranking in global university rankings in 2021:

  • Jiaotong University is a major public research university located in Shanghai, China.

  • In 2021, Jiaotong University was ranked between 101-150 globally in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). This ranking is also known as the Shanghai Ranking.

  • The ARWU is one of the most influential and widely observed university rankings in the world. It has been publishing global university rankings annually since 2003.

  • Jiaotong University’s ranking of 101-150 in ARWU in 2021 placed it among the top universities in China and the world. It demonstrated the university’s strengths in research impact and reputation on the global stage.

  • However, its ARWU ranking declined slightly from previous years, as Chinese universities face increasing competition from other countries’ top institutions in the global rankings.

  • Still, Jiaotong University’s ranking between 101-150 in the highly competitive 2021 ARWU reflects its standing as one of China’s top research-intensive universities at the global level.

Author Photo

About Matheus Puppe