Explain how the tension described in Promised Land, Crusader State has played out in US foreign relations at different times since the end of the Civil War.

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This question refers to a book written by Walter McDougall entitled Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776 . Writing in 1997, McDougall looks at what he claims are a confusing array of traditions in American foreign policy debate and practice. These include such irreconcilable...

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This question refers to a book written by Walter McDougall entitled Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776. Writing in 1997, McDougall looks at what he claims are a confusing array of traditions in American foreign policy debate and practice. These include such irreconcilable ideals as isolationism and expansionism, Wilsonianism and containment, and exceptionalism. These are divided into an "Old Testament" that characterized the first one hundred years since the founding and that ended with imperialism, and a "New Testament" that characterized the twentieth century.

It is these "New Testament" values that have driven American foreign policy during the World Wars and the Cold War that followed and that continued to be influential in the 1990s. McDougall argues that the United States during this period has been, as he puts it, a "Crusader state": one that has generally sought to carry its values (i.e., liberal democracy and capitalism) around the world. The "Promised Land" of the nineteenth century was more inclined to stay within its own borders—McDougall does not think "manifest destiny" was of a piece with the expansionism of the late nineteenth century. Vietnam, for McDougall, is the apex, or the nadir, of America's "crusader" impulse.

McDougall wrote before the Iraq War, or he may have seen that conflict in the same light (though the "crusader" state was generally multilateral in nature.) In 1997, he characterizes the state of American foreign policy debates as essentially a struggle between those who embrace the "crusader," or "New Testament" ideals that originated in early twentieth century imperialism, and the adherents to a "Promised Land" ideology that tended to be more isolationist. The tension, then, is a modern one, not so much a dialectic that persisted throughout the existence of the United States.

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