What America Owes the World: The Struggle for the Soul of Foreign Policy

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For two hundred years, Americans have believed that they have an obligation to improve the lot of humanity. This belief has consistently shaped US foreign policy. Yet within this consensus, two schools of thought have contended: the 'exemplarist' school (Brands' term) which holds that what America chiefly owes the world is the benign example of a well-functioning democracy, and the 'vindicationist' school which argues that force must sometimes supplement a good example. In this book, H. W. Brands traces the evolution of these two schools as they emerged in the thinking and writing of the most important public thinkers of the last two centuries. This book, first published in 1998, is both an intellectual and moral history of US foreign policy and a guide to the fundamental question of America's relations with the rest of the world - a question more pressing than ever in the confusion that has succeeded the Cold War: What does America owe the world?