Conservatism, Democracy, and Foreign Policy
Date: Monday, March 26, 2018
Guest Discussion Leader: John Hillen, decorated combat veteran, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, founder of Sotera Defense Solutions, Chairman of National Review, Inc., and Executive in Residence and Professor of Practice at George Mason University’s School of Business.
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.
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.
Laderman, Charlie. Conservative Internationalism (Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2017):
Dueck, Colin. (2018, February 7). How to Defend the West. National Review:
“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”
“A New America in a New World Order”
“A Modest Proposal for Mideast Peace”
1. Why is Codevilla critical of the American pursuit of an informal empire in the years after 1945? How does his position differ from a so-called ‘isolationist’ approach to world affairs?
2. In what ways is the post-Western and post-Christian America preferred by American elites an obstacle to effective foreign policy and public diplomacy? According to Codevilla, in what ways is America losing her soul?
3. How effectively have our ruling elites faced the civilizational challenge posed by Islam?
4. Why did the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ultimately bring more war than peace?
5. How does David Petraeus qualify as a “savior general”? What larger lessons can be learned from his efforts to pacify Iraq and redeem the honor of the United States?
5. What are the sources of President Obama’s retrenchment of American power? To what extent does he share the premises of those who desire a post-Western, post-American world?