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Do morals matter? : presidents and foreign policy from FDR to Trump

Nye, Joseph S.2020
Books
"At dinner with a group of friends, one asked what I had been doing lately. When I said I was writing a book on presidents, ethics and foreign policy, she quipped "it must be a short book." Another added more seriously, "I didn't think ethics played much of a role." That conventional wisdom marks not only dinner discussions, but political analyses as well. An Internet search shows surprisingly few books on how presidents' moral views affected their foreign policies and how that affects our judgments of them. As Michael Walzer (an important exception to the rule) described American graduate training after 1945, "moral argument was against the rules of the discipline as it was commonly practiced, although a few writers defended interest as the new morality." A survey of the top three American academic journals on international relations over fifteen years found only four articles on the subject. As one author noted, "leading scholars...do not dedicate serious attention to investigating the influence of moral values on the conduct of nations." It is not a career-enhancing topic for a young scholar, but has long intrigued me as an old practitioner and student of American foreign policy. The reasons for scepticism seem obvious to many. While historians have written about American exceptionalism and moralism, diplomats and theorists like George Kennan long warned about the bad consequences of the American moralist-legalist tradition. International relations is the realm of anarchy with no world government to provide order. States must provide for their own defence, and when survival is at stake, the ends justify the means. Where there is no meaningful choice there can be no ethics. As philosophers say, "ought implies can". No-one can fault you for not doing the impossible"-- Provided by publisher.
Author:
Imprint:
New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2020]©2020
Collation:
xiv, 254 pages ; 25 cm.
Variant title:
Presidents and foreign policy from FDR to Trump
Notes:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 219-239) and index.
ISBN:
97801909359629780190935962
Dewey class:
327.7300904327.73
Language:
English
BRN:
376887
LocationCollectionCall numberStatus/Desc
Sandringham LibrarySociety and Beliefs327.73 NYEAvailable
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