Washington D.C. Fellows 2017: Session Five

Conservatism, Democracy, and Foreign Policy

Date: Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Guest Discussion Leader: Ambassador John Bolton, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Americans have grown war-weary and tired of military engagements abroad. Yet America has vital interests and an abiding commitment to the survival of western civilization. The readings in this session explore the necessity for American foreign policy to combine spiritedness and moderation and to avoid the twin pitfalls of democratic crusadism and escape from our responsibilities in the world.

Required Reading:

Codevilla, Angelo. To Make and Keep Peace Amongst Ourselves and All Nations (Hoover Institution Press, 2014). “Peacekeeping vs. Peace” and “The War on Peace”. pp. 142-167.

Hanson, Victor Davis. The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost- From Ancient Greece to Iraq (Bloomsbury Press, 2013). “The New Way Forward”. pp. 215- 221 and “Down from Olympus” pp. 230- 237.

Recommended Reading:

“Foreign Policy By Map: What geopolitics is, and why we need it” by John Hillen

Mahoney, Daniel J. The Conservative Foundations of the Liberal Order: Defending Democracy Against Its Modern Enemies and Its Immoderate Friends (Intercollegiate Studies Institute Books, 2011). Chapter 6, Conservatism, Democracy, and Foreign Policy, pp. 105-124.

Hanson, Victor Davis. The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern (Bloomsbury Press, 2010). Chapter 10, “The American Way of War- Past, Present, and Future”, pp. 137-157.

Assorted Articles by Victor Davis Hanson:

“Obama’s Ironic Foreign Policy”

“Our Schizoid Foreign Policy”

“Obama’s Illiberal Foreign Policy”

“The Perils of Obama’s Foreign Policy”

“Our Icarus-in-Chief”

“A New America in a New World Order”

“Diplomacy Carterizes”

“A Modest Proposal for Mideast Peace”

Session Reading

Discussion Questions

1.    In what ways is Thomas Paine the prototype of the modern intellectual who supports revolution not to relieve “specific grievances” but to found political communities on “proper foundations.” What precisely are those foundations according to Paine? How would Burke respond?

2.    Why did Paine believe that Revolution must be “total and uncompromising”? Did he learn anything from his own imprisonment in revolutionary France?

3.    In what ways was Burke both a counterrevolutionary and a reformer? Why did he fear Enlightenment rationalism as a new despotic “state religion”?

4.    What might Burke say about the American revolution in contrast to the French one?

5.    According to Burke, How did militant atheism inform and motivate the French Revolution? Why is such inveterate hostility to the Christian religion incompatible with a free and decent society?

6.    How do Burke and Paine continue to inform the thinking and habits of the contemporary Right and Left?