Does America Need a Foreign Policy? : Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century

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9780684855677: Does America Need a Foreign Policy? : Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century

The former Secretary of State under Richard Nixon argues that a coherent foreign policy is essential and lays out his own plan for getting the nation's international affairs in order. 150,000 first printing.

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Review:

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger asks a question in the title of his book Does America Need a Foreign Policy?--but there's really no doubt about the answer. That's not to say it shouldn't be asked: "The last presidential election was the third in a row in which foreign policy was not seriously discussed by the candidates," writes Kissinger. "In the face of perhaps the most profound and widespread upheavals the world has ever seen, [the United States] has failed to develop concepts relevant to the emerging realities." Kissinger tours the world in this book, describing how the United States should relate to various regions and countries. This is not a gripping book, but it is sober, accessible, brief, and comprehensive--and an excellent introduction to international relations and diplomacy.

Kissinger has opinions on just about every topic he raises, from globalization (for it) to international courts (against them, for the most part). He supports a vigorous missile-defense system: "The United States cannot condemn its population to permanent vulnerability." He opines on peace in the Middle East: "Israel should abandon its opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state except as part of a final status agreement." His claims are often eye-opening: "There are few nations in the world with which the United States has less reason to quarrel or more compatible interests than Iran." He is especially critical of domestic politics interfering with America's international relations: "Whatever the merit of the individual legislative actions, their cumulative effect drives American foreign policy toward unilateral and seemingly bullying conduct." The media has been a special problem in this regard, as it zips around the world in search of exciting but ephemeral stories, which are "generally presented as a morality play between good and evil having a specific outcome and rarely in terms of the long-range challenges of history." Does America need a foreign policy? Of course it does, and Henry Kissinger has done readers a service by outlining what a good one might be. --John J. Miller

About the Author:

Henry A. Kissinger was sworn in on September 22, 1973, as the fifty-sixth United States Secretary of State, a position he held until January 20, 1977. He also served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from January 20, 1969, until November 3, 1975. Among the awards Dr. Kissinger has received have been the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation's highest civilian award) in 1977, and the Medal of Liberty in 1986.

Dr. Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, came to the United States in 1938, and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1954. From 1954 until 1969 he was a member of the faculty of Harvard University, in both the Department of Government and the Center for International Affairs. He was Director of the Harvard International Seminar from 1952 to 1969.

At present, Dr. Kissinger is chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm.

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