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Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Towards a New Diplomacy for the 21st Century Paperback – November 4, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743230876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743230872
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,184,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Former Secretary of State Kissinger ambitiously undertakes herein the total revamping of U.S. foreign policy. This is necessary, he contends, because even though the U.S. is enjoying an unprecedented preeminence, it lacks "a long-range approach to a world in transition." Recent U.S. foreign policy, he says, has become dangerously ad hoc, a case-by-case response to challenges as they occur. Needed instead is "ideological subtlety and long-range strategy," which Kissinger provides. Chapter by chapter, he analyzes the broad challenges facing the U.S. and the world, from globalization and its attendant promises and disruptions (he warns that globalization has enriched many and impoverished and dislocated many others) to humanitarian intervention from Somalia to Kosovo. In other chapters he offers recommendations on how the U.S. should proceed in various areas of the world: Europe, the Western Hemisphere, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Kissinger's point is that each region is unique and thus so should be U.S. foreign policy toward them. Our alliance with Europe, for example, is the bedrock of Kissinger's U.S. foreign policy; we must make sure, he warns, that the European Community remains a political partner, not a competitor. While not all will agree with his findings he is, for instance, quite skeptical about humanitarian intervention it is a pleasure to experience a first-class mind subtly explaining in an accessible way the immense intricacies of modern U.S. foreign policy. 6 maps. Agent, Marvin Josephson, ICM. (June 14)Forecast: Given the author's prominence, this is bound to get major media attention and to spark debate, fueled by national advertising and publicity and a four-city author tour. This title is a BOMC and History Book Club alternate.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is an easy read, very understandable.
J. head
The book, unfortunately, does not even live up to its own title, much less the expectations it inherits by virtue of its author's reputation.
Matthew Krichman
Kissinger expertly weaves historical detail with insights relative to the globalized horizon.
John Jefferson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Crossfit Len on June 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You may agree or disagree with Henry Kissinger. You may think Kissinger is the modern day Prince Metternich or the modern day Napoleon III. You may read this book and say to yourself, Kissinger is saying exactly what we should do, or is giving the wrong advice on foreign policy. You can argue any of these points. You can love Kissinger or hate him. You can agree or disagree. But what you can not deny about Dr. Kissinger or his book is that he knows foreign policy and diplomacy and his ideas right or wrong are food for very serious thought.
I am not going to lie and say this book is as exciting as John Grisham or Tom Clancy. It is not. Nor is it as exciting as Diplomacy was. And yes, Diplomacy is an exciting and masterful book. And his chapter on Europe is extremely dry. But the information giving, the background, the possible solutions are very important to read, understand, and debate.
Kissinger's whole premise of the book to is the need for America to have a long range, well thought out foreign policy. Whether you agree with what he says about how this policy should be shaped is debatable. But what he makes a strong case for in his introduction and throughout the book is the need to have a foreign policy with specific goals, and not a foreign policy based on public opinion at the moment and by the seat of your pants. I think, right or left, realpolitik or Wilsonian we can all agree with that.
Again, I felt his chapter on Europe was dry but he makes up for it with his chapter on Asia. His thoughts on China, Taiwan, and India to me were the most interesting of the book. Also, in light of the recent events in the Middle East I was glad to read his thoughts on the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edit to revisit Kissinger's role and add book links.

Revisitation: We've always known Kissinger is brilliant, and there is no reason to revise that view. However, in light of what is now known about Viet-Nam, we must find Kissinger guilty as a war criminal (first link below).

The book begins with a lamentation that foreign policy has been neglected in the last three Presidential campaigns; that the American public is terribly apathetic about foreign affairs; and that Congress is overly interventionist--he refrains from adding the obvious caveat regarding most Members lack of knowledge of the world. In brief, we have a long way to go as a Nation before we can devise and sustain a credible foreign policy.

The core point in this entire work is that both economics and technologies, including Internet and communications technologies, have so out-paced politics that the world is at risk. Globalization, terrorism, and other threats cannot be addressed with our existing international, regional, and national political constructs, and new means must be found--new political solutions must be found--if we are to foster security and prosperity in the age of complexity, discontinuity, and fragmentation.

There are some useful sub-themes:

1) Each region must be understood in its full complexity, with special attention to both emerging powers and to the subtleties of relations between regional actors--we should not confine ourselves to simply addressing each actor's relationship to the United States.

2) We must take great care to never interpose ourself or allow ourselves to become a substitute for a regional power, e.g. in the dialog between North and South Korea, or India and Pakistan.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Puneet Tanwar on August 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Interesting reading. I don't suppose this book has much value for an American, but for outsider it helps explain many things, and also offers an insight into American foreign policy goals. The style is very accessible. The mid-east chapter is especially interesting for obvious reasons. Being an Indian, I found his analysis of relationship with India pretty positive and interesting. I could give it 3 1/2 stars if I could.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Craig L. Howe on June 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
At the dawning of the new millennium, the United States faces a paradox. It finds itself basking in a success unrivaled by history's greatest empires. In popular culture, finance, weaponry, science, technology and education, the country dominates the worldview. The country considers itself both the source and the guarantor of global democratic institutions.
Yet, Kissinger argues, the United States finds itself at a juncture with irrelevance to many of the issues affecting and changing the world order. Interest in foreign affairs, he notes judging from media coverage and congressional sentiment, is at an all time low. As a result the United States finds itself facing some of the most profound and widespread upheavals the world has ever witnessed, yet unwilling and uninterested in developing concepts relevant to the foreign policy reality.
Our relations with Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East require subtle responses rendering the traditional American quest for an all-purpose, magic foreign relations formula irrelevant. Unfortunately, the former Secretary of State argues, three forces in domestic politics drives American foreign policy in the opposite direction.
First, Congress legislates the tactics of foreign policy and seeks to impose a code of conduct on other nations by sanction. These legislative actions drive American foreign policy towards a unilateral and, what Kissinger describes as, occasionally bullying conduct.
Second, coverage of these events by a ratings-driven media does not help. Their obsession with the crisis of the moment rarely fosters discussion of the long-range historical challenges. They prefer to portray today's crisis as a morality play with a specific outcome and then move on to the next new sensation.
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