Massive Retaliation: The Policy and Its Critics

Massive Retaliation: The Policy and Its Critics

Massive Retaliation: The Policy and Its Critics

Massive Retaliation: The Policy and Its Critics

Excerpt

Communist Imperialism and the new balance of power resulting from the unleashing of nuclear energy have radically altered the United States' role in world affairs. Americans have fully accepted the changed situation, but do they really comprehend the tasks and processes of this new role of leadership? This question must be answered in the framework of American political tradition, which demands popular support of government policies, and we have therefore chosen to seek its answer in the necessary and continuous intercourse between public debates and national policy.

Foreign policy--the present administration's supporters and critics alike will agree--can be quite flexible. It is capable of adjusting itself, day by day, to the demands of the diplomatic situation. Unfortunately, however, public debates seem to be far less flexible, incapable of adjustment, as if bound to conform to some prescribed pattern; regardless of varying circumstances, the same debating techniques are used again and again. Deliberation on national policy has been made uniformly rigid by complexes of socially accepted values and by dynamisms, or built-in forces that exert a prevailing influence on public opinion. These values and dynamisms operate as a set of rules that must be obeyed in American politics, even though they are not always consistent with the requirements of U.S. policy. Our broad purpose in this work is to formulate and illustrate the patterns or laws that govern public opinion and to determine the nature and the extent of their interference with the conduct and success of U.S. foreign policy.

If our work is to carry conviction, it must proceed as a case study, and our conclusions, if they are to be genuine, must be drawn in positive terms. We must show how the techniques of debate, the dynamisms that determine public behavior, and the . . .

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