Lincoln the American Diplomat

If only we could see what Lincoln’s foreign policy would have looked like. Well, hold on–we can get a sense of what the celebrated American president believed,thanks to a new book by Kevin Peraino.

But despite his rough-hewed background, the backwoods lawyer turned out to be a surprisingly supple, sophisticated and successful diplomat. Presidents of every stripe invoke Lincoln to address problems of every shade, but the 16th president’s shrewd foreign policy has been virtually forgotten.

via WSJ

Overall, he was an American exceptionalist, a realist, and a practitioner of a humility that is rarely seen in American politics. Peraino details Lincoln’s numerous successes–including the most important achievement of appealing to European progressives and keeping them out of the war.

This book offers fresh insights, as Walter Russell Meade writes:

A form of intellectual isolationism frequently mars the work of American historians, who often study U.S. politicians without appreciating how those figures’ perceptions of events overseas influenced their ideas about their country’s role in global affairs. Lincoln in the World avoids this pitfall …

via Foreign Affairs


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