U.S. Liberals in a Realist World: Suggestions from 1776-1939 Introvert Phases for the Coming Two Decades

Student Author(s)

James Teaford

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jack Holmes

Document Type


Event Date



If the U.S. Foreign Policy Moods projected by Klingberg (1952) and Holmes (1985) continue, the next two decades are likely to feature a return to American introversion. This is likely to take place during a time of power transition when the power of Asian nations is likely to be rising. We argue that long-term as well as short-term considerations need careful attention. Our hypothesis is that examination of American business-liberal and reform-liberal thinking during introvert times in the pre-1940 timeframe utilizing a realist perspective will provide useful long-term suggestions for American policy makers. To be sure, each era is different, but past trends remain relevant. At this point, there is not much recent research about American Foreign Policy Moods except that of the primary author (2011). If past trends prevail, a transition from extroversion to introversion will take place in the next few years. Observers are likely to be as surprised as they were in 1968, the time of the last extrovert to introvert change. This research suggests that, based on past trends, the American transition to introversion could be led by a president who could receive low posterity ratings later on. The U.S. could be divided increasingly by domestic issues which could make it difficult to concentrate on international issues.

The major conclusion of this research is the suggestion that the U.S. might be one of the least understood powers because of its shifting moods and lack of comfort with realism and non-western cultures. Maintaining peace will be a major challenge and the time to start considering the implications of theories is now. This study suggests the need to bridge the gap between long-term and short-term analysis. The proposed research continues recent studies by the primary author on American Foreign Policy.

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