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Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump Hardcover – January 2, 2020
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"In times like these, it is important to appreciate the role that moral reasoning should play in foreign policy. This is especially true in a democracy, where sustaining global involvement requires support from citizens. Joe Nye is one of our foremost and engaging analysts of American diplomacy, and in this book he provides a clear-eyed guide for reengaging our moral compass." -- Walter Isaacson, Distinguished Fellow and Former CEO, Aspen Institute, and Professor of History, Tulane University
"From the doyen of US foreign policy thinkers, a powerful warning against domestic populist politics, which not only narrow our moral vision but defeat US purposes around the world." -- O.A. Westad, Yale University
"With characteristic insight and precision, Joseph Nye raises tough questions of how much ethics should shape a nation's foreign policy, provides a sweeping review of how past presidents have embraced or rejected ethical imperatives, and constructs a helpful scorecard for judging future presidents. This book takes on even greater significance as a growing number of nations-led by the U.S.-nakedly put self interest first." -- David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, and Founding Director, Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership
"In Do Morals Matter? Joseph S. Nye argues persuasively that in foreign policy, good intentions must be accompanied by the use of appropriate means that generate beneficial consequences. His astute analysis of American presidents since World War II demonstrates that 'contextual intelligence' is crucial for moral principles to yield good results." -- Robert O. Keohane, Princeton University
"A lucid, thoughtful and original examination of the role morality plays as American presidents shape their foreign policy. As Professor Nye shows convincingly in this highly readable book, leaders and citizens alike make assumptions, decisions and judgments which reflect their own views about what is good and bad. Yet again he has contributed much to our better understanding of international relations." -- Margaret MacMillan, Emeritus Professor of International History, University of Oxford
About the Author
Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and a Deputy Under Secretary of State. His most recent books include The Powers to Lead, The Future of Power, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, and The Power Game: a Washington Novel. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers.
- Publisher : Oxford University Press (January 2, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0190935960
- ISBN-13 : 978-0190935962
- Item Weight : 1.22 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.4 x 1.1 x 6.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #292,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The author synthesizes ideas from all these disciplines attempting to analyze the foreign policy decisions of the U.S. presidents since Franklin Roosevelt. He uses a framework to “score” each president’s moral performance in several categories.
Since this book is not history, the author doesn’t delve deeply into the events that he reviews. He assumes that the reader is already familiar with the U.S.’s major foreign policy issues since 1945. If you aren’t, you probably won’t receive enough information to form a real opinion about how the president performed.
Since this book is not moral philosophy, there’s no deep examination of the different moral options that might have been available to each president. The author simply judges them according to his own moral outlook. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The author has a pretty typical moral outlook, and he basically just sums up the consensus view for most of the presidents. However, most readers will already share these judgments, and will not glean anything innovative from the author.
Since this book is not psychology, we don’t get a thorough review of the psychological makeup that influenced each president. The author tells us a little about each president’s background, apparently acknowledging that this is important to how they viewed the world and made decisions, but this only scratches the surface.
A reader who is already familiar with foreign policy events since 1945 won’t learn much, and someone who isn’t familiar with the history won’t get enough depth of material to make an informed opinion.
Nye's assessments of the various presidents is balanced and fair. He is consistent in his application of his framework throughout which is helpful in comparing different leaders in similar situations. I learned about history as well as ethics from this highly readable book.
This book is good read for students of recent US history though. However, the details, even when provided, are sparse. Nevertheless, I found it informative.
Each president whose morals the author reviews is found wanting if one takes a little time to look into the backstory.
It’s not worth the time, read an executive summary instead