Brett D. Schaefer
The Founders believed that nations should seek to work amicably toward common goals and in defense of mutual interests. As George Washington advised Americans in his Farewell Address, “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
But the Founding Fathers also knew that nations had competing priorities, and that, as new concerns emerged, the pull of shared goals and interests could weaken or disappear. Alliances were therefore naturally impermanent. As Alexander Hamilton observed:
There is nothing absurd or impracticable in the idea of a league or alliance between independent nations for certain defined purposes precisely stated in a treaty regulating all the details of time, place, circumstance, and quantity; leaving nothing to future discretion; and depending for its execution on the good faith of the parties.