of whether automatic change will derive from the predilections and personality structures of different incumbents, or pervasive similarity of basic policy orientation, despite the rhetorical expressions and even the real intentions of the protagonists of a new administration.
Just as the explanation of the behavior of the Nixon-Kissinger Administration turns not on its psychological or moral qualities, a prognosis for the foreign policy of any successive administration depends less on the personality and predilections of its protagonists than on the evolution of the total pattern of challenges and constraints, including the peculiar characteristics of our own political system. Thus, successors to the Nixon-Kissinger Administration, holding much the same objectives for the international system and beset by many of the same constraints, have been likely, despite themselves, to maintain the recognizable structural features of their predecessors' foreign policy, however qualified they might have been by "stylistic" differences. Indeed, although it initially dismantled some of the stylistic "excesses" of its predecessors, even the Carter Administration--and certainly the Reagan Administration--under pressure, recovered and utilized many of the same devices of diplomacy and even internal governance.
Therefore, voters and analysts should discern what "correct" policy means, in objective terms, regardless of who is making it--whether a secretive, reclusive president and a subtle and difficult secretary of state, or an attractive and open president and any of a host of direct and honorable aspirants to the top foreign policy positions. Critics should not try to pass off the foreign policy directions of the past several administrations as products of aberrant or defective personal impulses--with the implication, or the expectation, that "right-mindedness" or "whole-mindedness" will automatically rectify our national policy and restore the American position in the world.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Cold War Patriot and Statesman, Richard M. Nixon. Contributors: Leon Friedman - Editor, William F. Levantrosser - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 209.
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