Per the criticisms from Poulos and Larison, I should say that I was playing along with Walter Russell Mead's division of the American foreign policy tradition into Wilsonian, Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian and Jacksonian strains, rather than endorsing it, and I agree that it runs into all sorts of difficulties very quickly - not least of which is the question of whether any of the three worthies not named Wilson are really the best figureheads for the viewpoints their names are being associated with.
But this is not to say that the underlying viewpoints aren't important. Here I want to disagree somewhat with David Brooks, an actual self-described Hamiltonian (albeit in a slightly different context), who has a column today on the possible foreign-policy continuities between the second Bush term and the Obama Administration - and specifically the way the lessons learned during the Bush years about nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq might translate into "multidisciplinary security and development campaigns" and efforts that focus less on "killing the enemy" than on "repairing the zones of chaos where enemies grow and breed." With this in mind, he writes:
Some theoreticians may still talk about Platonic concepts like realism and neoconservatism, but the actual foreign policy doctrine of the future will be hammered out in a bottom-up process as the U.S. and its allies use their varied tools to build government capacity in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, the Philippines and beyond.
I don't actually think this is true. Or rather, I don't think it's that much more true now than in the recent past. Certainly, there are some theatres, from the Phillipines to Mongolia, in which American foreign policy is and ought to be defined by a spirit of pragmatic improvisation disconnected from any Platonic theory of foreign affairs. (Or rather, disconnected from any theory save the consensus that America should be playing an informally imperial role around the globe, promoting stability, development and the national interest with a combination of hard and soft power - which is itself a theoretical prism through which to view world affairs.) And yes, of course, Platonic theories don't provide perfect answers to most dilemmas, which is why they don't always survive contact with actual world events - just ask Condoleezza Rice!