, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 501–507 | Cite as

The Capitalist Peace: a New Way Forward for American Foreign Policy

  • Sarah BurnsEmail author


Since the beginning of the republic, Americans have viewed their state as a “beacon of liberty.” This self-conception has caused Americans to think that they can be a force for positive change in the world. Over time, their outlook has facilitated increasingly aggressive efforts to democratization other countries, leading many to see America as an imperial power. It is my contention that regardless of other factors, Americans become the most invasive when liberal ideology, the very thing that makes them a “beacon of liberty” overpowers other ideological forces. Only by restoring a balanced debate about the merits of democratization by reintegrating other perspectives on America’s role in the world can they be the force for good they believe themselves to be.


American foreign policy Capitalist peace theory Montesquieu American political development 

Further Reading

  1. Bailyn, B. 1992. The ideological origins of the American revolution. Cambridge:Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bowman, A. H. 1956. Jefferson, Hamilton and American foreign policy. Political Science Quarterly, 71(1), 18–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, Morrow, James D, Siverson, Randolph M., and Smith, Alastair. 1999. An institutional explanation of the democratic peace. The American Political Science Review 93 (4): 791. doi:
  4. Bukovansky, M. 1997. American identity and neutral rights from independence to the war of 1812. International Organization, 51(2), 209–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. de Secondat Montesquieu, C.-L. 1989. The Spirit of the Laws. (trans: Cohler, A. M., Miller, B. C., & Stone, H. S. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Desch, M. C. 2008. America’s liberal illiberalism: The ideological origins of overreaction in U.S. foreign policy. International Security, 32(3), 7–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Desch, M. C. 2010. The more things change, the more they stay the same: The liberal tradition and Obama’s counterterrorism policy. PS: Political Science & Politics, 43(3), 425–429.Google Scholar
  8. Ellis, J. J. 1997. American sphinx: The character of Thomas Jefferson. New York:Knopf.Google Scholar
  9. Gartzke, E. 2007. The capitalist peace. American Journal of Political Science, 51(1), 166–191. Scholar
  10. Go, J. 2011. Patterns of empire: The British and American empires, 1688 to the present. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hartz, Louis. 1991. The liberal tradition in America, Second Edition. San Diego: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  12. Howse, R. 2006. Montesquieu on Commerce, Conquest, War, and Peace. Brooklyn Journal of International Law, 31, 1–16.Google Scholar
  13. Hunt, M. H. 1987. Ideology and United States foreign policy. New Haven:Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Ikenberry, G. J. 2011. Liberal leviathan: The origins, crisis, and transformation of the American world order. Princeton:Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ikenberry, G. J., & Slaughter, A.-M. (Eds.) 2006. Forging a world of liberty under law: U.S. National Security in the 21st century. Princeton:The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.Google Scholar
  16. Larrère, C. 2000. Montesquieu on Economics and Commerce. In D. W. Carrithers, M. A. Mosher, & P. A. Rahe (Eds.), Montesquieu’s Science of Politics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  17. Locke, J. 1988. Two treatises of government. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Madden, T. F. 2008. Empires of trust: How Rome built--and America is building--a new world. New York:Dutton.Google Scholar
  19. Maoz, Z., & Russett, B. 2012. Normative and structural causes of democratic peace, 1946–1986. American Political Science Review, 87(3), 624–638. Scholar
  20. Mead, W. R. 1996. Hamilton’s way. World Policy Journal, 13(3), 89–106.Google Scholar
  21. Mearsheimer, J. J. 2003. The tragedy of great power politics. New York:W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  22. Medhurst, M. J. 2006. The rhetorical presidency of George H. W. Bush. Texas:Texas A&M University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Mueller, J. 2010. Capitalism, peace, and the historical movement of ideas. International Interactions, 36(2), 169–184. Scholar
  24. Münkler, H. 2007. Empires: The logic of world domination from ancient Rome to the United States. Cambridge:Polity.Google Scholar
  25. Murphy, C. 2008. Are we Rome?: The fall of an empire and the fate of America. Boston:Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  26. Pagden, Anthony. 1998. Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France c.1500-c.1800. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Pangle, T. 1990. The spirit of modern republicanism: The moral vision of the American founders and the philosophy of Locke. Reprint:University Of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Parmar, I. 2009. Foreign policy fusion: Liberal interventionists, conservative nationalists and neoconservatives — The new alliance dominating the US foreign policy establishment. International Politics, 46(2), 177–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Patapan, H. 2012. Democratic international relations: Montesquieu and the theoretical foundations of democratic peace theory. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 66(3), 313–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pierce, A. R. 2007. Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman: Mission and power in American foreign policy. New Brunswick:Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  31. Pocock, J. G. A. 1985. Virtue, commerce, and history: Essays on political thought and history, chiefly in the eighteenth century. New York:Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pocock, J. G. A. 2003. The Machiavellian moment: Florentine political thought and the Atlantic republican tradition. Princeton:Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Rahe, P. A. 1994. Republics ancient and modern, volume II: New modes and orders in early modern political thought (vol. 2. 3). Chapel Hill:University of N. Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  34. Restad, H. E. 2012. Old paradigms in history die hard in political science: US foreign policy and American exceptionalism. American Political Thought, 1(1), 53–76. Scholar
  35. Russett, B. 2005. Bushwhacking the democratic peace. International Studies Perspectives, 6(4), 395–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Russett, B. 2010. Capitalism or democracy? Not so fast. International Interactions, 36(2), 198–205. Scholar
  37. Schneider, G., & Gleditsch, N. P. 2010. The capitalist peace: The origins and prospects of a liberal idea. International Interactions, 36(2), 107–114. Scholar
  38. Storing, H. J. 1981. What the anti-federalists were for. Chicago:University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Storing, H. J., & Dry, M. 1981. The complete anti-federalist. Chicago:University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. US. 1776. Declaration of Independence.Google Scholar
  41. Wood, G. S. 1998. The creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787. Chapel Hill:The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  42. Woodberry, R. D. 2012. The missionary roots of liberal democracy. American Political Science Review, 106(02), 244–274. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceRochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA

Personalised recommendations