The Man in the Street: The Impact of American Public Opinion on Foreign Policy

By Thomas A. Bailey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
SELFISHNESS AND SHORTSIGHTEDNESS

"One of the weaknesses of a democracy . . . is that until it is right up against it, it will never face the truth."--STANLEY BALDWIN, 1935


1

THE IRON LAW of national interest or self-interest governs the foreign affairs of all powers, great or small. In this respect we are probably no better and no worse than other peoples. We may not have pursued our national interest with as much success as other countries, but no one can accuse us of not having tried.

One qualification must be entered. The Man in the Street aims at what he conceives to be the best interests of his country, but often his judgment is faulty. The neutrality legislation of the 1930's, which gave substantial aid and comfort to the rising Hitler and Mussolini, was enacted in response to what the American people thought was to their advantage, but with the wisdom of hindsight we may conclude that storm-cellar neutrality was shortsighted folly.

Another qualification must be made. In pursuit of national interest we sometimes bark up the wrong tree. The German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 was of epochal significance, but at first certain sections of the country were more deeply aroused over the rather ridiculous Zimmermann note. Walter Lippmann has observed that the true interests of the people are not always the things that interest the people most.

The good Christian is no doubt shocked to hear that our national policy is, has been, and must be conceived in selfishness. Recent events provide ample proof of the tendency in international relations for moral standards to be dragged down to the level of the lowest. Before Pearl Harbor we were horrified to learn that merchantmen were being sunk by submarines without warning and without regard for the lives of innocent noncombatants. We declared war on the Germans in 1917, among other reasons, for starting and persisting in this inhumane practice. Yet after Pearl Harbor we were faced with the necessity of fighting the devil with fire, and rather than lose the war we torpedoed scores of Japanese ships without warning, and within a few years were dumping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If a statesman insisted on pursuing in undiluted form the ethics of Jesus, if he turned the other cheek and refused to match the weapons of his adversary, he would not only have to abandon the aspirations of his nation, but he might even sacrifice the nation itself, in which case he would go down in history as a simpleton rather than as a statesman. These unfortunately are the realities of international life, and will continue to be until a better day dawns.

-154-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Man in the Street: The Impact of American Public Opinion on Foreign Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 338

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.