A Lapsed Progressive: Walter Lippmann and US Foreign Policy, 1914–1945

  • David Milne
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan History of International Thought book series (PMHIT)


In “A Lapsed Progressive”, Milne points out that Walter Lippmann’s first foray into foreign affairs, advising President Wilson as part of the “Inquiry”, ended badly, as he fell out with Wilsonian universalism. Instead, Lippmann returned to the pragmatism that William James had taught him at Harvard. While the historian and political scientist Charles Beard moved toward autarky, or “continental Americanism”, the rise of fascism in Europe affected Lippmann differently. Lippmann turned to a variant on realism that was best captured in two books, US Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic and US War Aims, which argued that US foreign policy must place American interests ahead of unrealizable abstractions. In the post-war era, this meant maintaining a working relationship with Stalin’s Soviet Union. Lippmann assumed permanent trends in the structure of world affairs. He overlearned the lessons of Wilson’s failure at the Paris Peace Conference. For Stalin was not simply motivated by narrow self-interest—ideology mattered too.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Milne
    • 1
  1. 1.School of HistoryUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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