There same time, it constitutes an undertaking too

There are certain core ideas that constitute the ideological frameworkwithin
which the foreign policy of the United States has been formulated and imple-
mented historically. These first emerged and took shape at the time of the
American Revolution, producing an elite consensus linked to prevailing cul-
tural values and to the nation’ssense of identity in the sphere of foreign af-
fairs. To understand the attitudes and responses to international events
throughout the independence period down to the present, in the view of
Michael H. Hunt, therefore requires an exploration of the place of ideol-
ogy in U.S. foreign policy. The task, as he properly notes, is a challenging
one, and has not been extensively explored in the literature. At the same
time, it constitutes an undertaking too important to remain neglected and

The intellectual setting is provided in a short but succinct introduction en-
titled “Coming to Terms with Ideology.” Noting the extensive critiques of
U.S. policy that arose in reaction to Vietnam and continued during the
Reagan years, Hunt examines representative works as a means of defining
his own perspective concerning the character and place of ideology. While
several are cited, he places particular emphasis on major statements by
George Kennan and William Appleman Williams. These are cited as the two
dominant interpretive approaches of the past thirty-five years. The first is
termed an exponent of the “pejorative”approach to foreign policy ideology,
based on criticism of the presumably errant moralism and legalism inherent
in American foreign policy. In contrast, the latter centers attention on the
influence of economic interests, with ideology central to the evolution of
American policy abroad. This was epitomized by the open door policy, first
effective in China and later applied globally.

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The author’s examination of these two writers is intrinsically valuable.
Even more importantly, however, it permits him to move toward his own
perspective of ideology as shaped by cultural forces. Drawing particularlyon
the writings of CliffordGeertz, and to a lesser degree from such exponents of
political culture as Almond and Verba, Hunt argues that it becomes possible
to incorporate both social class and economic power into a definitional con-
cept of ideology. Moreover, changes over time may more readily be accom-
modated. As a consequence, it becomes useful to review the attitudes of for-
eign policy elites from the eighteenth century to the present. Drawing
extensively on public rhetoric as well as private writings, Hunt guides the
reader across the years from the independence movement to the present.
The result is an intellectual tour deforce that insists upon an elite consensus
over fundamental issues of international affairs.

This swift if exciting expedition highlights three core ideas, which, for
Hunt, have exerted a powerful influence in the sphere of foreign affairs