In Search of Monsters – Prudent Statecraft

In the concluding installment of our In Search of Monsters podcast series, host Chris Lydon is joined by Quincy Institute Chairman Andrew Bacevich, author James Traub and Massachusetts Historical Society’s Sara Martin to examine the legacy of John Quincy Adams’ “austere doctrine of restraint.”

John Quincy Adams was the model president in the early republic who declared that the United States “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” But “go abroad” we did, as the republic became a world colossus. And monsters there were in the mixed casualties of American power. 200 years later comes the question: what is left to be rescued of Quincy Adams’ vision? Adams prescribed for his young nation that “she is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all,” but “she is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” Really? In the twenty-first century, with the biggest military budget in human history, and fighting men standing guard around the planet?

Additional reading:

Letter from John Quincy Adams – August 11, 1837.

An Alternative to U.S. World Dominance – Article by Andrew Bacevich, August 8th, 2019.

Can America Do Anything at All to Encourage Democracy? – Article by James Traub, December 6th, 2022.

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