The Myth of American Diplomacy: National Identity and U. S. Foreign Policy

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Overview

In this major reconceptualization of the history of U.S. foreign policy, Walter Hixson engages with the entire sweep of that history, from its Puritan beginnings to the twenty-first century’s war on terror. He contends that a mythical national identity, which includes the notion of American moral superiority and the duty to protect all of humanity, has had remarkable continuity through the centuries, repeatedly propelling America into war against an endless series of external enemies. As this myth has supported violence, violence in turn has supported the myth.

The Myth of American Diplomacy shows the deep connections between American foreign policy and the domestic culture from which it springs. Hixson investigates the national narratives that help to explain ethnic cleansing of Indians, nineteenth-century imperial thrusts in Mexico and the Philippines, the two World Wars, the Cold War, the Iraq War, and today’s war on terror. He examines the discourses within America that have continuously inspired what he calls our “pathologically violent foreign policy.” The presumption that, as an exceptionally virtuous nation, the United States possesses a special right to exert power only encourages violence, Hixson concludes, and he suggests some fruitful ways to redirect foreign policy toward a more just and peaceful world.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300151312
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter L. Hixson is professor of history at the University of Akron. He has published numerous books and articles on the history of U.S. foreign policy, including the prize-winning book George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast. He lives in Fairlawn, OH.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Myth of America 1

Chapter 1 Birth of a Nation 17

Chapter 2 The White Man's Continent 43

Chapter 3 Reunite and Conquer 74

Chapter 4 Imperial Crises 102

Chapter 5 Choosing War 132

Chapter 6 Wars Good and Cold 163

Chapter 7 Militarization and Countersubversion 192

Chapter 8 Neocolonial Nightmares 214

Chapter 9 Patriotic Revival 245

Chapter 10 September 11 and the Global Crusade 277

Conclusion: Toward a New Hegemony 305

Appendix A Discourse and Disciplinary Knowledge 309

Appendix B Gramscian Cultural Hegemony 313

Appendix C Postmodernism 315

Appendix D Identity and Lacanian Psychoanalytic Theory 317

Notes 319

Works Cited 341

Index 369

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