I recently attended a conference on statesmanship. Truth be told, there are reasons to be ambivalent about statesmanship. While public service is a great virtue, the statesman specifically serves the state, generally meaning the government of the nation state. And, while anyone in a position of high authority and power must be motivated (and more importantly constrained) by a sense of duty, demands for statesmanship tend to hold up a model of greatness in political leadership that is profoundly dangerous. The desire to be “great” by upholding the interests of the nation as a political whole promotes martial metaphors and martial conduct. One seeking greatness too often is too willing to go to war against other nations, or against various public ills like poverty or crime. The inevitable result of such efforts is a massive increase in the extent and centralization of political power. And that increased, centralized power itself results in a diminution of ordered liberty and the zone of freedom necessary for our primary social institutions of family, church, and local association to flourish.