Peace, War, and Liberty

Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy

Has the United States been a force for liberty around the world? Should it be? And if so, how?

Peace, War, and Liberty is available in stores and online, wherever books are sold.

Has the United States been a force for liberty around the world? Should it be? And if so, how?

To answer these questions, Christopher A. Preble traces the history of U.S. foreign policy from the American Founding to the present, examining the ideas that have animated it, asking whether America’s policy choices have made the world safer and freer, and considering the impact of those choices on freedom at home. Preble explains the need to question the assumptions that drive American foreign policy in the modern era—especially the assumption that American politicians can and should forcibly remake the international order to suit their desires. He asks readers to consider whether America and the world would be safer and freer if U.S. foreign policy incorporated libertarian insights about the limitations of government power. At once evenhanded and uncompromising, Peace, War, and Liberty is a comprehensive challenge to the interventionist ideology of America’s foreign policy establishment.

Praise for Peace, War, and Liberty

“Lapidary, lucid, and libertarian, Preble’s elegant essay diagnoses the advanced diseases that have infected the American body politic since its leaders abandoned the prudent strategies bequeathed by its Founders from George Washington to John Quincy Adams. Global intervention has become an addiction that enervates and bankrupts the United States, while betraying the liberty it purports to spread.”

— WALTER A. MCDOUGALL, Alloy‐​Ansin Professor of International
Relations at the University of Pennsylvania and Pulitzer Prize–winning historian

“Writing logically and forcefully, Cato’s Christopher Preble uses history and philosophy to assess the trajectory of American militarism from Washington to Trump. His cost‐​benefit analysis is sobering, and the ‘revisionist’ rules of engagement he proposes are well reasoned. Never more so than today, Peace, War, and Liberty demands the attention of readers across the ideological spectrum.”

—RICHARD H. IMMERMAN, author of Empire for Liberty

“Chris Preble continues to contribute an important perspective, challenging some conventional wisdoms and ostensibly consensual views on the basis of an admirable mix of well‐​grounded history and insightful contemporary analysis.”

—BRUCE W. JENTLESON, Duke University

About the Author

Christopher A. Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author of three books, including The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free (Cornell, 2009), and has coedited several other books and monographs, including most recently Our Foreign Policy Choices: Rethinking America’s Global Role (Cato, 2016) with Emma Ashford and Travis Evans. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and other major publications, and he is a frequent guest on television and radio. Preble also teaches the U.S. Foreign Policy elective at the University of California, Washington Center, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a PhD in history from Temple University and is a former commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.