Vibeke Schou Tjalve
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Michael C. Williams
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Realist exceptionalism
Philosophy, politics and foreign policy in America’s ‘second modernity’
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Exceptionalism is a dominant theme in intellectual histories of American foreign policy. Hans Morgenthau clearly viewed American pluralist politics, liberal philosophy, and political science with the same combination of derision, despair, and foreboding shared by a range of emigre thinkers such as Leo Strauss, Eric Vogelin and others. The ideas laid down in American political culture by the founding generations of its institutional, social and religious framework might have some part to play in why the US response to that second modernity ultimately was different from that of Europe. As an intellectual lineage in US foreign policy, realism is generally portrayed as the great refusal of exceptionalist seductions and liberal, rationalist illusions. The notion that US foreign policy debates in the Cold War context were largely framed as a realist critique of the New World's (liberal) delusions of exceptionality and virtue is a well-rehearsed truism.

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American foreign policy

Studies in intellectual history

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