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American Foreign PolicyStudies in Intellectual History$
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Jean-Francois Drolet and James Dunkerley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526116505

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526116505.001.0001

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Realist exceptionalism: philosophy, politics and foreign policy in America’s ‘second modernity’

Realist exceptionalism: philosophy, politics and foreign policy in America’s ‘second modernity’

(p.96) 4 Realist exceptionalism: philosophy, politics and foreign policy in America’s ‘second modernity’
American Foreign Policy

Vibeke Schou Tjalve

Michael C. Williams

Manchester University Press

Vibeke Schou Tjalve and Michael C. Williams reflect on one of the most persistent and controversial themes in the intellectual history of US foreign policy: American exceptionalism. But the exceptionalism under investigation here is not the familiar account inspired by a mixture of early modern Puritan theology and nineteenth century expansionist myths of Manifest Destiny. Rather, their main concern is with a second strain of exceptionalism that took shape during the first half of the twentieth century, in response to a series of political crises triggered by a variety of phenomena such as the rise of mass society, bureaucratization, atomization, secularization, social differentiation and changes in modes of economic production. In this later form, what is exceptional was the ability of American institutions to cope with the political, economic and socio-cultural challenges that led to the backlash against liberal modernization in European states during the 1930s and 1940s. The main thesis that the authors then proceed to develop is that the origins and evolution of the American realist tradition must be re-interpreted in the context of this second exceptionalist moment in US history.

Keywords:   Realism, modernity, US Foreign Policy, Hans Morgenthau, Reinhold Niebuhr

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