May we not feel assured that if we do our duty, the Providence which favored the undertakings of the fathers and every step of our progress since, will continue His watchful care and guidance over us, and that “the hand that led us to our present place will not relax His grip till we have reached the glorious goal He has fixed for us in achievement of His end”?

—William McKinley, 18991

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Throughout U.S. history, from manifest destiny through Ronald Reagan's opposition to the Soviet Union's “evil empire” to George W. Bush's effort to transform Iraq into an outpost of American democracy, U.S. statesmen have often applied a moralistic understanding of American identity to their foreign policy visions. This tendency to...

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