The Foreign Service Journal - June 2017
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JUNE 2017



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.