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Does America Need a Foreign Policy? : Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century Paperback – September 4, 2002
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Every liberty minded American should read this book in order to stop internationalism dead in it's tracks.Study the enemy leann their plans and get deep in to their psyche.Published 12 months ago by karlmarxsux
Henry A. Kissinger lays out a very good argument on why the US truly needs to be further involved in Foreign Policy, not less. Read morePublished 21 months ago by James J. Bauers
This is a review of the (heavily) abridged cd audiobook version of this book
This book has both weaknesses and strengths, as all books do, but the weaknesses vastly... Read more
Although the views are more than a decade old, they are still pertinent in most ways. Enjoyed the message and perspective.Published on June 17, 2013 by Greg Scheessele
This book seems to have a lot to say, and even though the book is dated there is some relevant information to be gleaned (terminology and concepts). Read morePublished on June 16, 2013 by Leib Gershon Mitchell
I was stunned at the understanding and insight about political, historical, cultural environment of 3 countries of northeast asia.(China, Korea, Japan) Mr. Read morePublished on September 5, 2011 by JSC
Kissinger published this book before that horrible event, and it's still relevant although our problems are now more urgent. Read morePublished on April 17, 2011 by Afia