Two centuries after de Maistre, we still encounter Frenchmen, Italians, and Russians; as for “man,” we have yet come across him anywhere. Nations still survive, in spite of the attempts of dictatorial “Western” ruling elites to destroy them, and families, and all other communities bonded by kinship, language, faith, and myth.

Those elites are united in their burning desire to deny human nature and destroy Christianity. They champion an ideology of universal human values, of a global culture. They will not rest until America has been redefined as a “proposition” and the rest of the world engineered into a global “imperium” based on “democracy,” “human rights,” and “open markets.”

The globalist project attempts to destroy self-government at home and national sovereignty abroad, hi both cases, the rule of law is replaced by some higher good, a “principle” that can never provide a basis for either legality or morality, and which is uprooted from time or place. By treating America as an ideological proposition rather than a real nation, globalists at least cannot be accused of partiality when they treat other nations as minions to be cowed or savages to be exterminated.

This is why the study of foreign affairs matters, now probably more than ever. America cannot be fully de-Americanized as long as there is a single nation that refuses to eat Big Macs, watch Seinfeld, or deliver its citizens to some U.N.-run kangaroo court. And the world cannot be completely globalized as long as there is some meaningful resistance in the United States itself, based on the notion of America as a real nation, a distinct people with shared civilizational and religious roots.

This nation has definable interests which ought to be the foundation of our relations with other nations, through the observance of the Golden Rule. American foreign policy should pursue those interests. But we do not need to reinvent the wheel: Most Americans still prefer enlightened nationalism—”Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none”—to “benevolent global hegemony.” Their healthy antipathy to the ruling elites’ imperial pretensions is a sign of hope: The moral absolutism that the proponents of global hegemony substitute for rational argument can be challenged.

To those who scream “something must be done” whenever CNN flashes pictures of refugees on our TV screens, we should respond that genuine dilemmas about our responsibility toward one another cannot justify the zeal of those who love humanity so much that they hate all real people. This is not escapist isolationism. Some wars may have to be fought, but only those that bear on our security and interests. Reality is always more complex than we think; the more distant it is from our own experience, the less we can understand it. We should be aware of our limitations, of our inability to know what is best. This is both Christian and an authentically American point of view.

hi short, the objective of American foreign policy should be to maintain the security and freedom of the United States, while not threatening the security and freedom of other countries. Enlightened nationalism does not seek dragons to slay in far-flung corners of the world, but it demands the readiness “of the coiled rattlesnake that threatens none so long as it is not threatened and its domain is not intruded upon.” It rejects both neo-Wilsonian one-world globalism and neoconservative hegemonist interventionism—the twin brothers that run America’s current foreign-policy establishment—as contrary to the authentic traditions of the American republic, to its true interests, and to the will of the American people.

A clearly stated case for a “nationalist” foreign policy may enable even those Americans who do not subscribe to paleoconservatism to ponder the implications of global interventionism —for their own sake, and for the sake of peace in the world. Without any such alternative, Americans may continue to sink into undissenting submission as their country nudges ever closer to an eventual war with China or a possible nuclear conflict over Central Asia.

A frontal assault on American imperialism may trigger a long-overdue counterrevolution at home. The new “imperium” demands docile and pliant subjects rather than responsible citizens capable of making moral distinctions. By rising against America’s neo-imperialism, Americans will save their country, while saving the world from the United States.