By Sanford Levinson
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Additional info for An Argument Open to All: Reading "The Federalist" in the 21st Century
If greater unity is needed to resist potential aggression by Great Britain or France, then why doesn’t it follow, in another historical period, that the United States, Great Britain, and France should join together in a genuinely common political enterprise in order to provide a uniﬁed response to China or some other common rival? The Atlantic and Paciﬁc Oceans no longer provide automatic security. ” Shouldn’t we at least consider the possibility that such alliances will—and should—ultimately lead to stronger forms of political uniﬁcation that will, in their own way, replicate the vital transformation of 1787–1788?
3 This has often been paraphrased as a maxim that states in the international system have no friends; they have only interests. One can only assume that Publius would agree. So why should any other country trust American professions of “friendship” to take precedence over cold calculations of what is in the interest of the United States? In any event, it is readily understandable why the leaders of other countries, upon reading Publius, might believe that they too need to enhance their own national security, whether this involves threatening to build nuclear weapons or simply attempting, through alliances with other countries, to balance the power now perceived to be held by the United States or, increasingly, China.
Publius provided a good reason to support the amalgamation of New York and North Carolina into a new and strengthened United States of America governed by the institutions established by the new Constitution. But he seems to provide no reason for anyone in our own time to rest secure in the belief that the “good old Constitution”—or even the strength of the United States in the twenty-ﬁrst century—is enough to overcome this century’s pervasive fear. Publius gives us no grounds for optimism. ” Perhaps we should place Reagan in a distinctly Publian tradition that, at the end of the day, minimizes the value of trust in favor of endless vigilance.