A just peace : Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and the moral basis of American foreign policy
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This dissertation attempts to demonstrate the relevance and significance of American presidents' moral arguments to their foreign policy decisions. An interpretive approach that treats as important what presidents say is important to them suggests that so-called “normative” questions about rightful intervention may represent earnest and provocative moral foreign policy imperatives that are the reasons for their actions. These inherently significant imperatives deserve empirical inquiry in the field of international relations, which tends to vacate moral opinions of any agency in order to fit them into generic, deterministic mechanisms. As a contrast to this tendency, this study analyzes the pivotal decade of the 1890s, and in particular the major foreign-policy controversies of Grover Cleveland and William McKinley. What emerges from this exploration is that, even in the frenzy of his situation, each president deliberately sought, and argued for, a policy consistent with his understanding of international justice.