America's Foreign Policy in a Changing World

By Langer, John J. | Naval War College Review, Winter 1997 | Go to article overview
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America's Foreign Policy in a Changing World


Langer, John J., Naval War College Review


Hartmann, Frederick H., and Robert L. Wendzel. America's Foreign Policy in a Changing World. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. 503pp. (No price given) The developmental process and implementation of American foreign policy continue to be the subjects of innumerable texts trying to make sense of a complex and confusing topic.

This book seeks to provide readers a solid foundation for understanding the conduct of U.S. policy from independence to the present. Hartmann and Wendzel provide insights into the formulation and implementation of foreign policy; a brief description of how foreign policy issues are decided upon; analysis of U.S. policy during the Cold War, from 1945 to 1991; and a discussion of present and future foreign policy problems facing the United States. Most importantly, the authors offer a framework for organizing one's thought processes when considering the direction and implications of future foreign policy formulations.

The authors carry impressive credentials. Frederick H. Hartmann, Alfred Thayer Mahan Professor Emeritus at the Naval War College, is a specialist in international relations and the author of numerous books, including The Conservation of Enemies, World in Crisis, The Relations of Nations, and Defending America's Security (coauthored with Wendzel). Robert L. Wendzel is the educational advisor at the U.S. Air War College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, and a frequent lecturer on national security matters and foreign policy. He, too, has written extensively on the subject of international relations. His textbooks include Defending America's Security and To Preserve the Republic: United States Foreign Policy (both coauthored with Hartmann),A Policymaker Focus, and International Politics: Policymakers and Policymaking.

This strong academic background is evident throughout the present work. Its focus is tight, the examples chosen support the authors' arguments, and the research and references are both impressive and current. The authors demonstrate a superb knack for introducing and explaining, in simple terms, basic definitions and concepts essential to the study of international relations. Particularly enlightening are the discussions of the historical context that helped shape American foreign policy and still continues to give it its unique flavor; the evolution of the constitutional and legal relationships between the executive and legislative branches; the role of the president and his advisors in the development of foreign policy; the impact of the media, interest groups, and public opinion on the decision-making process; and the complex interrelationship of economics and foreign policy.

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