William Anthony Hay

William Anthony Hay, an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University, is author of The Whig Revival, 1808-1830. He recently completed a biography of Lord Liverpool, Britain's prime minister from 1812 to 1827.

Foreign Policy in the Metaphysical Mode

aircraft take off

A populist backlash against globalization during 2016 brought a series of events culminating with Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the U.S. presidential election. The results marked a sharp break with a muscular form of liberal internationalism committed to spreading democracy and promoting human rights that guided policy since the 1990s.

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From Emergency Measures to Permanent Solutions

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A specter haunts the global economy, with the lingering prospect of another crisis that might throw the U.S. economy and others back into recession. Central banks and governments have worked to exorcise the specter, but their efforts have not eased anxieties. Nor have they addressed deeper systemic problems that make these economies vulnerable to banking sector risk. Uncertainty, heightened by a turbulent political year in America, casts a long shadow over the prospects for recovery. Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, who led that institution through the financial crisis of late 2007 to 2009, addresses what went wrong…

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Squandering the Post-Cold War Peace Dividend

US Marines withdraw from the Camp Bastion-Leatherneck complex at Lashkar Gah in Helmand province on October 26, 2014. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

During the 1990s, victory in the Cold War seemed more than just a triumph over the Soviet Union.

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Understanding Realpolitik

Congress of Vienna

Realpolitik is a term more often invoked within the English-speaking world than explained or understood. The word provides a condensed symbol that expresses different meanings depending upon who employs it. Sometimes it signals a practical approach focused on the concrete particulars that shape international relations or an effort to cut through naivety and utopianism. More often, however, it conjures a very different image of cynically pursuing advantage by deploying power without moral restraint. As “an unwelcome import from the dark heart of Mitteleuropa,” in John Bew’s telling phrase, realpolitik marks a disturbing counterpoint to Anglo-Saxon conceptions of fair play and liberty under law.

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Reforming a Fiscal Revolution


Almost exactly 200 years ago, the British House of Commons rejected a peacetime income tax. Henry Brougham, a Whig member of Parliament, mobilized public opinion against the tax, and after a raucous debate in the Commons, his side won by 37 votes. This revolt against the government that had led Britain to victory over Napoleon barely a year before, and the government’s response, marked an important turning point.

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Kissinger’s Quest for Order


Henry Kissinger has drawn on his experience of statecraft to explore the contradictions of world order, and elucidate how statesmen keep international relations from becoming an anarchic struggle. Pithy observations punctuate his latest analysis, World Order, an engaging book informed by a wide appreciation of history and culture.

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Russia, China, and Us: A Response to Mark Helprin

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Lord Salisbury, Britain’s 19th century strategist and prime minister, famously remarked to a correspondent that “if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe.” Alarms that experts raised from their own preoccupations, he believed, required tempering with common sense before such warnings could offer a reasonable guide for policy. Much of the discussion of American security over recent years brings to mind Salisbury’s observation. Mark Helprin’s “Indefensible Defense” in National Review’s June 22 offers a case in point.

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Trade Expectations and the Outbreak of Wars

copeland book

Why countries go to war remains a perennial question for international relations. Military, ideological, and geopolitical challenges to a nation’s security draw great attention, but its economic interests play an important part that demands greater study. To that end, Dale C. Copeland has written Economic Interdependence and War, a carefully argued contribution to the professional literature on international relations. While controlling resources and gaining territory have long been factors in driving conflict, few wars have been fought ostensibly for market share. Copeland argues that commercial factors have been far more important to the outbreak of war than either realists or liberals…

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Snubbing the Anglosphere

Samuel Gregg rightly concludes that the political cooperation required for the nations of “the Anglosphere” to act as an effective international bloc rests upon choices by leaders. Cultural ties and longstanding security relationships open possibilities, but pursuing them requires conscious decision. To elaborate on Gregg’s analysis, one would have to consider what presuppositions and concerns guide Anglosphere leaders’ foreign policy. Before we even get that far, though, we are likely to encounter resistance. The Anglosphere concept is dismissed by many as either fantasy or an exercise in nostalgia. It obviously strikes a chord that keeps it in circulation, though, notwithstanding…

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The Yanks Made Us Do It

The central question addressed by Samuel Gregg in his timely ruminations about the Anglosphere is how ready and willing its member nations are to “collectively shape the global order” through collaboration beyond that in which they already engage. His chief contention is that, while the nations of the Anglosphere jointly possess the necessary economic, demographic,…

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Crisis of Identity: Here, There, and in the Canuckosphere

Samuel Gregg’s thoughtful Liberty Forum essay on the prospects for a functional “Anglosphere” leaves me perplexed. He is no Pollyanna on the matter, but to my mind he underestimates some monumental intellectual and practical difficulties confronting statesmen who would try to move the English-speaking peoples from ad hoc cooperation in various areas, animated by real…

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A Common Bond

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World War I shattered the nineteenth century global system that had brought an unparalleled expansion in trade and economic development.  Globalization lurched into a dramatic reverse.  George Kennan’s remark that World War I dramatically narrowed the options available to statesmen applied no less to merchants, financiers, and consumers.  What became known as the “special relationship” between the Great Britain and the United States guided three efforts at refashioning a stable global economic order.  The first attempt following World War I failed by the late 1920s, but Anglo-American cooperation after 1945 laid a foundation for prosperity across the free world.  More…

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