Do Jeffersonians Exist?
Published on: January 8, 2010
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  • I would like to highlight some interventionisms that has infected even your take on Jeffersonians, who are presumably first about non-intervention, regardless of the particular flavor.

    “High Jeffersonians seek to create strategic architectures that address the nation’s broad and often global interests at the lowest possible risk and cost.” The clause is certainly true of all schools of thought, although they weigh interests and costs differently. So High Jeffersonians are defined by wanting strategic architectures. But I would guess that real politicians (and perhaps yourself?) would want to use these architectures to intervene with other countries, just through a more “high-minded” approach.

    “As Britain grew weaker, it was no longer able to keep the world system running.” The ubiquitous assumption that one power always has, and always will, run the system. But if there truly is a world system, then all the parts collectively run it, and having one clear hegemon isn’t necessary to its survival. It’s just a way to justify one hegemon in replacing another.
    “[T]he high Jeffersonians who think a cautious and strategic approach to maintaining the global political and economic system is the cheapest and most promising way to defend essential American economic and security interests.” Fancy way to justify the status quo, which is always the hegemon’s preferred way of intervening.

    “That’s especially true when, as in Obama’s case, foreign policy success depends in part on the cooperation of other powers.” Doesn’t it always? Otherwise, it’s war, right?

    Why do you end the article with strictly domestic political effect (beside getting around to ending on Carter, thus including the angle of the essay)?

    Finally, “whether the means he proposes can achieve the results that he seeks” is the right question to ask and discuss. How about a post on that? Afghanistan would be a good subject for it.

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  • S.L. Toddard

    “Obama_Confers_About_IranIf Iran goes on trying to build a bomb no matter what Obama does…”

    What proof is there that Iran is currently working on a nuclear weapon?

  • Geoff Balaigh

    It was Hamilton who ghosted Geo. Washington’s Farewell Address when at the time Jefferson would had sent American troops to support Jacobin France against the Brits; “warmongering” Hamilton and Washington insisted on strict neutrality. Jefferson’s foreign policy was based totally on his whims at the time, and he was hardly any strategist in global affairs(in fact he was a far cry from being this Platonic philosopher king as the age old myth has painted him.)

    To equate Hamilton with pre-neocon Wilsonianism is patently absurd;Hamilton was entirely for nation-building but only for his new nation – the United States of America. At the time, the European colonial powers were a valid threat to this new nation and Hamilton wanted to keep them as far away as possible, even if it meant accepting the Jay Treaty that was largely in the UK’s favor;Jefferson via his surrogates like James Madison charged Hamilton and even George Washington with being pawns of the British monarchy for it, though the Jay Treaty kept America from entering what was then a world war.

    Never did Hamilton yearn for a crusade to Europe to turn the dated oppressive monarchies into good liberty loving republicans as Jefferson desired throughout the 1st decade of the Republic.

    Woodrow Wilson’s inspiration was Jeffersonianism coupled with his crude Calvinism and his own pumped view of himself.

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  • Well, it appears that if Obama ever WAS a High Jeffersonian, he lost his head somewhere along the way. Maybe this streak is present somewhere in that head of his; but if it is, it is far outshadowed by his propensities to Left-Jeffersonianism and Left-Wilsonianism.

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