What Does the World Want from America?: International Perspectives on U.S. Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

Lennon, Alexander T. J., ed. What Does the World Want from America?: International Perspectives on U.S. Foreign Policy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002. 209pp. $22.95

This volume is a collection of sixteen articles originally published in the Washington Quarterly in 2001 and 2002. It is part of the Washington Quarterly reader series, in which domestic and international perspectives are applied to a topic. Twelve of the articles were solicited from academics around the world. The editor of this book, Alexander T. J. Lennon, is the editor in chief of the Washington Quarterly. He offers no explanation of how the twelve were chosen, other than to say that each author is "preeminent" and has spent some time in the United States. The authors were asked to describe their idealized vision of U.S. foreign and national security policy in the future, emphasizing the role they would like the United States to play in their particular regions. The remaining four articles are the reactions of American scholars to those collective visions.

The Washington Quarterly typically runs accessible, jargon-free, mainstream articles, and those in this collection are no exception. They are well written and get to the point quickly.

It is a useful exercise for Americans to learn the views of non-American experts on foreign policy. Predictably, many of these academics from other countries emphasize that the United States could do more to understand (and sympathize with) the perspectives and cultures of other countries. Otherwise, the foreign authors tend toward a sanguine view of America as the world's only true superpower. This could reflect the timing of the articles and their geographic locations.

It is important to note that all twelve articles were published before "9/11" and the war on terrorism. If writing today, perhaps their opinions would be different.

The four articles by American scholars were written after "9/11" and when the war with Iraq was inevitable. Their analyses are both more current and out of alignment with the others. For understandable reasons, they reach beyond the range of their colleagues by paying considerable attention to post11 September priorities and the fears that accompany them. …