THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
the Jacksonian ethos of many Ameri-
cans, who are suspicious of America’s
ability to perfect the world, but fiercely
protective lest others cross us. Kaplan
believes this isolationist impulse should
constrain idealistic U.S. policymakers,
ensuring that America’s actions abroad
do not exceed the public’s enthusiasm
for foreign adventures.
But the central drama of the new
administration’s foreign policy is
likely to revolve around Kaplan’s core
argument that America is “fated” and
“obligated” to lead; that a single thread
connects Manifest Destiny to the launch
of Tomahawk missiles against the
Shayrat airbase in Syria.
Perhaps Providence influenced our
country’s development and its rise to
superpower status, but humans and
their institutions also play a role. These
obligations are not self-fulfilling, but
contingent on the active consent of our
elected government representatives,
an increasing number of whom appear
uninterested in the commitments—
explicit or implied—to other nations or
the international order.
Geography and history put our coun-
try in the pole position, but we still need
to run the race.
FSO Eric Green is the director of the Office
of Russian Affairs in State’s Bureau of Euro-
pean and Eurasian Affairs and previously
served as political counselor in Moscow.
He joined the Foreign Service in 1990 and
has also served in the Philippines, Ukraine,
Northern Ireland, Turkey and Iceland. He
is a member of the Foreign Service Journal
Editorial Board. The views expressed here
are his own and do not necessarily reflect
those of the Department of State.
Other countries complain that geography has cursed them;
it’s given nothing but blessings to us.