William S. Smith, Research Fellow and Managing Director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship, is the author of a forthcoming book from the University of Michigan Press, Democracy and Imperialism: Irving Babbitt and Warlike Democracies (2019).

From the publisher’s website:

After costly U.S. engagement in two wars in the Middle East, foreign policy debates are dominated by questions about the appropriateness of American military interventions. A central issue is whether an interventionist foreign policy is compatible with the American constitutional tradition.

The book examines Irving Babbitt’s (1865–1933) unique contribution to understanding the quality of foreign policy leadership in a democracy. Babbitt explored how a democratic nation’s foreign policy is a product of the moral and cultural tendencies of the nation’s leaders and that the substitution of expansive, sentimental Romanticism for the religious and ethical traditions of the West would lead to imperialism.

The United States has been moving away from the restraining order of sound constitutionalism to impose its will on other nations, which will inevitably cause the United States to clash with the “civilizational” regions that have emerged in recent decades. Democracy and Imperialism brings the question of soul types to issues of foreign policy leadership and discusses the qualities in leaders that are necessary for sound foreign policy.