The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

July 30, 2014

SHORT COURSES
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America's Security

Lesson 1: The Nation’s Beginnings: The Federalists & Antifederalists

     

  1. The Federalist, No. 3

       

    • What other factors among the “great variety of circumstances and considerations” should be considered along with the danger of “foreign arms and influences”?
    •  

    • How do we determine a particular war’s justice or injustice?
    •  

    • What sorts of events does Madison assume will happen after the Constitution’s ratification, and why?
    •  

    • Must America be powerful in order not to be overpowered?
  2.  

  3. The Federalist, No. 6

       

    • Is the federal government necessary to prevent the states from making war on each other?
    •  

    • Is the argument from human passions for a central government equally valid against ratification and central government?
    •  

    • Does the American military experience during the Revolution support or contradict Hamilton’s argument?
    •  

    • Compare the historical situations of the warlike republics mentioned by Hamilton to that of the newly independent States (especially the disturbances in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts), and determine whether or not Hamilton was correct in attributing utopianism to the Antifederalists.
  4.  

  5. The Federalist, No. 24

       

    • What constitutes the “evident necessity” requisite for “military establishments”?
    •  

    • How does the rhetorical device of the man deluded by a reactionary press frame Hamilton’s dispassionate logic?
    •  

    • What is the importance of the legislature’s control over the raising and support of an army?
    •  

    • What is Hamilton’s defense of a standing army?
  6.  

  7. The Federalist, No. 64

       

    • To what extent does the security of the people’s liberties depend on the presence of “the most enlightened and respectable citizens” in government?
    •  

    • Why is the House disqualified from making treaties, although not from deliberating on the military establishment?
    •  

    • Why does Jay believe “secrecy and despatch” are needed?
    •  

    • What does it mean for a government to be “weak” in its diplomacy?
  8.  

  9. The Federal Farmer, Letter XVIII

       

    • What place, if any, do precedent and history have in the Antifederalist argument?
    •  

    • What constitutes the evident necessity that is the author’s ground for a standing army?
    •  

    • Explain the author’s conception of a militia and its importance to a republic.
    •  

    • What distinguishes a navy’s relationship to a republic from a standing army’s? Provide the author’s reasons, evaluate those, and provide some of your own, whether supportive of the distinction or not.
  10.  

  11. Brutus, Letter No. 8

       

    • What explains the intense wariness of the Antifederalists about the abuses of central government?
    •  

    • How is taxation the bulwark of governmental power?
    •  

    • How is money borrowed from foreigners relate to making foreign policy?
    •  

    • How is a civilian tied to his town and state in a way that the soldier, “distinct from the body of the people,” is not?

Summary question: Why was the concept of a military establishment controversial enough to be discussed thoroughly by each side of the ratification debate? How does this debate encapsulate several other controversies about power and the American future present during our republic’s infancy?

Further Reading:

     

  1. Nathan Tarcov, “War and Peace in The Federalist
  2.  

  3. James E. Dornan Jr., “The Founding Fathers, Conservatism, and American Foreign Policy”
  4.  

  5. Ann Diamond, “The Anti-Federalist ‘Brutus’”
  6.  

  7. Quentin P. Taylor, “Publius and Persuasion: Rhetorical Readings of The Federalist Papers

Lesson 2: The Nation’s Beginnings: The Washington Presidency & Pacificus-Helvidius

     

  1. The Neutrality Proclamation

       

    • How are “duty and interest” defined?
    •  

    • Why is the United States “friendly and impartial”?
    •  

    • Why is trade restricted by the disposition of the United States?
    •  

    • What authority does Washington possess, based on this document?
  2.  

  3. Pacificus, No. 1

       

    • What does the “law of Nations” have to do with the Neutrality Proclamation’s validity?
    •  

    • Why is the executive branch an “interpreter of National Treaties” about which the judiciary is incompetent, and what defines “incompetence” in this case?
    •  

    • How does the legislature’s exclusive power to declare war bind the executive to “present Peace till war is declared”? Why does the Constitution lodge war-making power and the prosecution of wars in two different branches?
    •  

    • According to Hamilton, what is Washington’s purpose in “proclaiming a fact” that binds all Americans to neutrality?
  4.  

  5. Helvidius, No. 1

       

    • In binding Americans to non-belligerent acts in the European war, did Washington legislate conduct?
    •  

    • What part did Washington’s universal esteem as an American Aeneas, a pater patriae, have in the debate about his Proclamation?
    •  

    • Does Madison’s argument for a strict construal of executive power have logical and constitutional validity? Cf. Hamilton’s objections to such an expansive realm of legislation, while answering.
    •  

    • How could two writers of the Federalist Papers so starkly disagree about the meaning of Article II of the Constitution?
  6.  

  7. President George Washington, “Farewell Address”

       

    • What is the importance of the union’s strength to the preservation of American liberty in its foreign policy?
    •  

    • How is the military’s size related to “Republican Liberty,” and does Washington’s answer seem counterintuitive to us today?
    •  

    • Does the concept of America as a republican exemplar preclude military action overseas?
    •  

    • How do affection and opinion distort one’s apprehension of his nation’s true interests?

Summary question: Using the text of the Constitution, explain how Pacificus and Helvidius derived their respective positions from the document. When you cannot support a position from the text or a logical deduction from it, explain how the extra-constitutional position relates to the founding document.

Further Reading:

     

  1. Gary Schmitt, “Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality: Executive Energy and the Paradox of Executive Power”
  2. Patriot Sage: George Washington and the American Political Tradition
  3. , ed. Gary L. Gregg II and Matthew Spalding

     

  4. Spencer C. Tucker, Rise and Fight Again: The Life of Nathanael Greene

Lesson 3: The Early Republic I

     

  1. Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, Chapters XIX–XXI

       

    • How does Story relate the moral and economic dangers of war to the structure of the national government?
    •  

    • Compare Story’s account of the passions of those in government to Publius’.
    •  

    • Why is the national government charged with the declaration of war and the power to raise an army? What defects of the Confederation did, Story believed, this union of powers remedy?
    •  

    • What is the purpose and nature of a military, and how does it relate to the American national government?
  2.  

  3. John Calhoun, “Speech on the Resolution of the Committee on Foreign Relations”

       

    • How does Calhoun speak about the question of raising and maintaining an army?
    •  

    • How should a case for war be made, according to Calhoun? How does he make his case?
    •  

    • Should we describe war as a “necessary evil,” or can we call some wars, if not all wars, actual “goods”?
    •  

    • Does regional feeling conflict with deliberating on what is good for the entire nation? E.g. the issue of tariffs in which Calhoun would later become so embroiled.
  4.  

  5. Daniel Webster, “Speech on the Draft delivered in Congress,” (December 9, 1814)

       

    • Is military conscription a method of raising armies permissible to a republican government?
    •  

    • What is “personal liberty,” and why is Webster so jealous for it?
    •  

    • What is the difference between Webster’s constitutional hermeneutic and that of the Secretary of War’s?
    •  

    • What kind of foreign policy best fosters and preserves the family?
  6.  

  7. Henry Clay, “Speech Supporting the War,” (January 9, 1813)

       

    • How is rhetoric referencing the people’s unanimity on this or that position important to arguments about foreign policy, abstract as it may be?
    •  

    • What are the reasons and the order of their importance that Clay provides for going to war?
    •  

    • To what kind of nation does Clay refer when he avers a commonality of feeling among all occupations and states? Has this nation overcome sectional feeling in the interest of greater national purpose?
    •  

    • Look for the allusions to or evidences of sectionalism in the speech. How does the state or regional part actually relate the national whole, and how does Clay present that relationship?

Summary question: How have the debates about foreign policy and security remained the same and changed since the ratification of the Constitution and the Washington Administration to the time of the War of 1812?

Further Reading:

     

  1. Doug Bandow & Josiah Bunting, “Should a Free Society Draft its Citizens?”
  2.  

  3. George Anastaplo, “The American Alcibiades?”
  4.  

  5. Felix Morley, “The Actuality of Calhoun”
  6.  

  7. Robert L. Goldich, “Conservatism, the Draft, and Total War”

Lesson 4: The Early Republic II

     

  1. John Quincy Adams, “An Address Celebrating the Anniversary of Independence,”

       

    • How is the English history of liberty related for Adams to America’s foreign policy and security?
    •  

    • Is America’s refusal to “seek monsters to destroy” essential to her nature or a prudential political decision limited to certain times in her history? Or does she have another, more questing nature altogether?
    •  

    • How does Adams’ Whig view of American (and English) history color his foreign policy?
    •  

    • What is the importance of Adams’ elucidation of the various levels of human association to how he depicts the nature and events of American foreign policy?
  2.  

  3. President James Monroe, “Seventh Annual Message to Congress,”

       

    • Why are the “American continents” in general included in a declaration by the President of the United States?
    •  

    • What is the United States’ stance on colonialism on the basis of this doctrine, and why?
    •  

    • Why does it not “comport with our policy” to take part in the “wars of European powers”? Is this pacifistic, isolationist, or something else entirely?
    •  

    • How are events in the rest of the hemisphere related to the hard-earned “peace and safety” of the United States?
  4.  

  5. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Part III, Ch. 22

       

    • What is the connection between peace and democracy?
    •  

    • What does geography have to do with security, and more specifically, what must a large federal republic with many overseas engagements do for its security that a small republic need not?
    •  

    • Why would war present a danger to liberty?
    •  

    • Has it been true in American history that the people are “afraid of turmoil,” if not of despotism?

Summary question: Are President Adams’ and Monroe’s opinions about the scope of American might fundamentally incompatible? If they are, why are they so? If they are not, how are they to be reconciled?

Further Reading:

     

  1. Laurence W. Beilenson & Kevin Lynch, “The Professional Military, the Draft, the Volunteer: A Tocqueville Solution”
  2.  

  3. Anthony T. Bouscaren, “Democracy and American Foreign Policy”
  4.  

  5. Paul Eidelberg & Will Morrissey, “Tocqueville and American Foreign Policy”

Lesson 5: After the Civil War

     

  1. President William McKinley, “War Message,” (1898)

       

    • How does McKinley define the “intimate connection” between the United States and Cuba?
    •  

    • How does or does not the Monroe Doctrine figure in this document?
    •  

    • How does McKinley relate his actions to the history of American foreign policy?
    •  

    • What role does the catalog of depredations have in the case for war, and is it a non-traditional element in the decision for war? Consider McKinley’s own lengthy historical reflection.
  2.  

  3. William Graham Sumner, “The Conquest of the United States by Spain”

       

    • With Washington’s comments on party in mind, even if there were a congressionally declared war, how and why is an American of the minority party bound to serve in or support a war he opposes?
    •  

    • How does the Fourth Estate affect foreign policy?
    •  

    • What kind of “original” America does Sumner depict in opposition to “conquering” Spain?
    •  

    • How does rhetoric, as opposed to public deliberation, influence or decide foreign policy?
  4.  

  5. President Theodore Roosevelt, “Fourth Annual Message,” (1904)

       

    • What is a “strong attitude” and why is a strong military requisite for a nation that has such an attitude?
    •  

    • Why should the “steady aim of the Nation” be what Roosevelt says it should, and are there instances of such ideals prior to Roosevelt in our nation’s history?
    •  

    • What are Roosevelt’s implicit (if not here explicit) definitions of “Nation” and “State”?
    •  

    • How do concepts of progress and civilizational advance color Roosevelt’s thinking?

Summary question: How is our foreign policy and military policy changed by thinking of ourselves as a united nation with collective moral responsibilities rather than the earlier idea of “going not abroad seeking monsters to destroy”?

Further Reading:

     

  1. William L. Burton, “The Conservatism of William Graham Sumner”
  2.  

  3. John Chamberlain, “William Graham Sumner and the Old Republic”
  4.  

  5. James E. Dornan Jr. & Peter C. Hughes, “Power and Purpose in American Foreign Policy”
  6.  

  7. J. W. Cooke, “TR”

Lesson 6: The World Wars

     

  1. President Woodrow Wilson, “War Address,” (April 2, 1917)

       

    • Why do the Constitution and President Wilson concur in making war only by Congress’ declaration? Are there reasons for making undeclared war?
    •  

    • What determines the content of international law, and who should administer it?
    •  

    • Does Wilson’s reason for responding hostilely to Germany differ from a traditional assertion of being the aggrieved party in a dispute? How or how not, and why or why not?
    •  

    • What kind of war does Wilson envision, and what does it mean for, among others, those Americans who do not support the declaration of war?
  2.  

  3. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Radio Address Announcing an Unlimited National Emergency,” (May 27, 1941)

       

    • How does this speech reassert the Monroe Doctrine for its day?
    •  

    • Why and how does Roosevelt mention Christianity?
    •  

    • Is America morally or otherwise bound to offer diplomatic and material support to other democracies?
    •  

    • How does Roosevelt think about progress in American history?

Summary question: Do the two presidents lay out the cases for their wars in rhetorically or morally similar ways, despite their differing historical situations? For instance, how does the concept of progress figure in either speech?

Further Reading

     

  1. Richard M. Gamble, The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, the Rise of the Messianic Nation
  2.  

  3. William L. Neumann, “Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy Decisions, 1940–1945”
  4.  

  5. Robert Nisbet, “Roosevelt and Stalin (I)”
  6.  

  7. Robert Nisbet, “Roosevelt and Stalin (II)”
  8.  

  9. J. Fred Rippy, “The Expansion of the Public Sector through Foreign Policy”

Lesson 7: The Cold War

     

  1. President Harry Truman, “Address to Joint Session of Congress,” (March 12, 1947)

       

    • State briefly what the Truman Doctrine is.
    •  

    • Why should the United States support or not support any given type of government per se, e.g. a “self-supporting and self-respecting democracy”?
    •  

    • What is modernization, and why would the United States be interested in furthering it abroad?
    •  

    • Why is “freedom for coercion” central to Truman’s articulation of American foreign policy?
  2.  

  3. George Kennan, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct”

       

    • Was Soviet communism such a danger that it required active suppression?
    •  

    • What does the creation of an impression among the peoples of world entail for the size and scope of the central government?
    •  

    • Why is uniformity in American opinion important to victory over Russia?
    •  

    • Why and how is the United States called a “great nation” in the second-to-last paragraph?
  4.  

  5. Garet Garrett, The People’s Pottage, Part III: The Rise of Empire, III–V

       

    • Does America have a unique mission in history, and even if you believe it does not, how have people articulated that mission?
    •  

    • Is America now or has it in the past been an empire?
    •  

    • Are the military buildup and engagements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries a novelty in kind, if not in degree, in American history?
    •  

    • By and for whom should American security policy be made? How do prior military commitments and budgets predetermine the policy-making of newly elected politicians and officials?

Summary question: What case(s) do President Truman and Kennan make for waging the Cold War, and do those cases demonstrate any or all of the claims made by Garrett about the republic after World War II?

Further Reading:

     

  1. Lee Congdon, George Kennan: A Writing Life
  2.  

  3. Daniel Kelly, James Burnham and the Struggle for the World: A Life
  4.  

  5. Justin Raimondo, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement
  6.  

  7. From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States, ed. Paul Hollander
  8.  

  9. Philip F. Lawler, “Just War Theory and Our Military Strategy”
  10.  

  11. Kenneth Colegrove, “Compromise Politics and International Relations”
  12.  

  13. Brenton H. Smith, “The Cold War as Misrepresentation”

Lesson 8: Varieties of Conservative Foreign Policy

     

  1. Hans Morgenthau, “Six Principles of Political Realism” from Politics Among Nations

       

    • How would our security policies differ if we were to posit either a) an actual, unchanging human nature or b) the socially constructed character of all human behavior and thought?
    •  

    • Must interest by defined solely in terms of power?
    •  

    • Why is reason so central to the method and analyses of political realism? Pay particular attention to Morgenthau’s discussion of motive.
    •  

    • Does Morgenthau’s method obscure some crucial elements of making foreign policy?
  2.  

  3. Robert Kagan, “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy”

       

    • Can relative isolation be considered the normal state of American foreign affairs at any time in our history?
    •  

    • What is American exceptionalism?
    •  

    • Can benevolence be a quality of a hegemonic power? How are we entangled in an entangling alliance?
    •  

    • Is American security contingent upon proportionately very large defense spending?
  4.  

  5. Henry Kissinger, “The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction”

       

    • State what universal jurisdiction is, and think of an argument against it that Kissinger either neglects or ignores.
    •  

    • Why is the concept of sovereignty integral to national security? If sovereignty is ceded to a supra-national body, what is the nation to secure, if anything?
    •  

    • Using the example of the treaty signed in Helsinki by President Ford, what is at stake when we enter into binding agreements whose meaning shifts on the basis of the foreign policies of other nations?
    •  

    • Is it just for American servicemen to be potentially tried for war crimes by non-American courts?
  6.  

  7. President George W. Bush, “Introduction,” 2002 National Security Strategy

       

    • What is the NSS’ account of history, and how does that affect its policy conclusions?
    •  

    • Is there a single sustainable model for national success?
    •  

    • Is a fellow man’s yearning for freedom sufficient grounds for another to use violence for the achievement of his fellow’s freedom?
    •  

    • Is civilization coterminous with those nations where freedom as defined in the first paragraph prevails?

Summary question: If we cannot speak of a monolithic conservative approach to foreign policy and security, can we posit the existence of a characteristically conservative attitude or set of ideas visible in the actions and thoughts of conservative statesmen and diplomats in American history?

Further Reading:

     

  1. Keith Pavlischek, “Just and Unjust War in the Terrorist Age”
  2.  

  3. Anthony Harrigan, “American Security: A Timely Assessment” & “American Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century”
  4.  

  5. James & Diane Dornan, “The Works of Henry Kissinger”
  6.  

  7. Richard V. Allen, “American Security: At Home and Abroad”
  8.  

  9. Daniel J. Mahoney, “Conservatism, Democracy, and Foreign Policy”
  10.  

  11. Paul Craig Roberts, “Morality and American Foreign Policy”
  12.  

  13. Gerhart Niemeyer, “Foreign Policy and Morality: A Contemporary Perspective”
  14.  

  15. Chantal Delsol, Unjust Justice: Against the Tyranny of International Law
  16.  

  17. Roger Scruton, The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat
  18.  

  19. Pierre Manent, Democracy Without Nations? The Fate of Self-Government in Europe
  20.  

  21. Stefan T. Possony, “Security Through International Law?”
  22.  

  23. John J. Tierney Jr., “Samuel P. Huntington and the American Military Tradition”
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