Jingoism is a term used to describe extreme patriotism, especially in the form of a warlike foreign policy. The term is often derogatory. The foreign policy of the United States has been described as jingoist on occasions in history, most recently in criticisms by liberals of how Republican President George W. Bush handled the Iraq War. Liberals have not used to the term to criticize Democratic Presidents' starting of wars, as in the cases of Democratic President Harry S Truman (Korean War) and Democratic President Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam War). The term was first used to describe American foreign policy at the turn of the 20th century to describe Republican President Theodore Roosevelt's handling of the Spanish-American War.
The word “jingo” is a British English form of “golly”, “gosh”, “gee” etc. and is always part of the term “by jingo!”. The term found its way into a music hall song, topical during the Turko-Russian War in the late 1870s when British anti-Russian sentiment was still strong after the Crimean War less than a generation before. The chorus went:
- "We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do
- We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too,
- We've fought the Bear before, and while we're Britons true
- The Russians shall not have Constantinople!"
"Jingoism" was coined from the song. During that time, aggressive foreign policy was popularly known in the United States as spread-eagleism. The term "jingoism" didn't become popular in the United States until the aforementioned case involving Theodore Roosevelt.