ISBN : 9780190935962
Americans constantly make moral judgments about presidents and foreign policy. Unfortunately, many of these assessments are poorly thought through. A president is either praised for the moral clarity of his statements or judged solely on the results of their actions.
In Do Morals Matter?, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., one of the world's leading scholars of international relations, provides a concise yet penetrating analysis of the role of ethics in US foreign policy during the American era after 1945. Nye works through each presidency from FDR to Trump and scores their foreign policy on three ethical dimensions of their intentions, the means they used, and the consequences of their decisions. Alongside this, he also evaluates their leadership qualities, elaborating on which approaches work and which ones do not. Regardless of a president's policy preference, Nye shows that each one was not fully constrained by the structure of the system and actually had choices. He further notes the important ethical consequences of non-actions, such as Truman's willingness to accept stalemate in Korea rather than use nuclear weapons.
Since we so often apply moral reasoning to foreign policy, Nye suggests how to do it better. Most importantly, presidents need to factor in both the political context and the availability of resources when deciding how to implement an ethical policy-especially in a future international system that presents not only great power competition from China and Russia, but a host of transnational threats: the illegal drug trade, infectious diseases, terrorism, cybercrime, and climate change.
Chapter 1: American Foreign Policy Ethical Traditions
Chapter 2: What is a Moral Foreign Policy?
Chapter 3: The Founders
Chapter 4: The Vietnam Era
Chapter 5: Post Vietnam
Chapter 7: The Unipolar Moment
Chapter 8: The 21st Century Diffusion of Power
Chapter 9: American Foreign Policy and the Future Order
"In times like these, it is important to appreciate the role that moral reasoning should play in foreign policy. This is especially true in a democracy, where sustaining global involvement requires support from citizens. Joe Nye is one of our foremost and engaging analysts of American diplomacy, and in this book he provides a clear-eyed guide for reengaging our moral compass." -- Walter Isaacson, Distinguished Fellow and Former CEO, Aspen Institute, and Professor of History, Tulane University
"From the doyen of US foreign policy thinkers, a powerful warning against domestic populist politics, which not only narrow our moral vision but defeat US purposes around the world." -- O.A. Westad, Yale University
"With characteristic insight and precision, Joseph Nye raises tough questions of how much ethics should shape a nation's foreign policy, provides a sweeping review of how past presidents have embraced or rejected ethical imperatives, and constructs a helpful scorecard for judging future presidents. This book takes on even greater significance as a growing number of nations-led by the U.S.-nakedly put self interest first." -- David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, and Founding Director, Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership
"In Do Morals Matter? Joseph S. Nye argues persuasively that in foreign policy, good intentions must be accompanied by the use of appropriate means that generate beneficial consequences. His astute analysis of American presidents since World War II demonstrates that 'contextual intelligence' is crucial for moral principles to yield good results." -- Robert O. Keohane, Princeton University
"A lucid, thoughtful and original examination of the role morality plays as American presidents shape their foreign policy. As Professor Nye shows convincingly in this highly readable book, leaders and citizens alike make assumptions, decisions and judgments which reflect their own views about what is good and bad. Yet again he has contributed much to our better understanding of international relations." -- Margaret MacMillan, Emeritus Professor of International History, University of Oxford