06 February 2012
US foreign policy off course: new book
An RMIT University academic has co-authored a new book suggesting the Founding Fathers' view of America's place in the world differed sharply from foreign policy today.
Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers co-author Professor Joseph Siracusa.
Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers, published by ABC-CLIO.
Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers is book number 25 for Professor Joseph Siracusa, who is Associate Dean of International and Justice Studies in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning.
The book offers a realist interpretation of the Confederation era, arguing that the Founding Fathers' approach to foreign relations was not based on ideology or moral concerns, but on perceptions of national interest and security.
Professor Siracusa said the book was particularly relevant as the US withdrew its military from wars in the Middle East and reshaped its foreign policy agenda.
"As American defence planners prune the military budget, decisions will have to be made about what is America's true role in the world," Professor Siracusa said.
The Founding Fathers would have had difficulty coming to grips with the US voluntarily entering into foreign military conflicts, he said, despite their principles often being touted as justification for US involvement.
"Conservative voters, including Evangelicals, often refer to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers to score political points.
"If they really knew anything about the period in which the Founding Fathers operated, they would be disabused of this notion."
Foreign Affairs and the Founding Fathers is the first new book on the topic in a generation, and offers further insight into the men and ideas which Americans continue to look to for guidance in negotiating world affairs.
The book provides an intimate account of the Founding Fathers' aspirations, thoughts and actions during a period when the republic held a much more modest position in the world than today.
"During the last two decades of the 18th century the new American republic struggled to establish its very sovereignty in a hostile world dominated by European monarchies," Professor Siracusa said.
"It was a near run thing and should today give Americans pause - and perhaps some modesty - in dealing with the world around them."
Professor Siracusa co-authored the book with Norman A. Graebner, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, and Richard Dean Burns, Professor Emeritus, California State University.