Crisis Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Intervention Policies and Practices

Crisis Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Intervention Policies and Practices

Crisis Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Intervention Policies and Practices

Crisis Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Intervention Policies and Practices

Excerpt

The understanding of foreign policy is made difficult by the discrepancy between what statesmen say they are doing and what they actually do. That discrepancy and that difficulty stemming from it are in a certain measure inevitable. For the statesman who must try to make his foreign policies palatable to opinion at home and abroad is compelled to make them appear as something different than they actually are. The maker of foreign policy cannot help being also an ideologue, that is, a falsifier of foreign policy.

Certain statesmen in certain periods of history, especially before foreign policy almost everywhere became subject to either democratic or totalitarian control, were able to present to the public a fairly accurate picture of their foreign policies. Among American statesmen, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, and Abraham Lincoln come to mind; among British, the two Pitts and Canning. During most of the nineteenth century and more particularly in our time, it would be futile to expect the pronouncements of statesmen to reveal the true nature of their foreign policies. One would not expect the pronouncements of any contemporary statesman to tell us what his government is really up to in foreign policy. The degree of distortion, to be sure, differs from statesman to statesman and from nation to nation. It is extreme in totalitarian nations where the concealment of the true nature of the policies pursued -- domestic and foreign -- is one of the foundation stones of the very authority of government. It is bound to be great also in democratic nations which play a continuous active part in the affairs of the world; for that role requires continuous competition for the support of opinion at home and abroad, a support which derives not from the rational understanding of actual policies but rather from the emotional commitment to policies desired and expected.

The United States has been particularly prone to deceiving itself about the true nature of its foreign policy. This special propensity to self-deception results from two factors: the mental picture the American mind has painted of the peculiar qualities of American foreign policy in contrast to the foreign policies pursued by other nations, and the actual character of American foreign policy, especially in the Western hemisphere.

Throughout their history, Americans have believed that their foreign policies were essentially different from those of other, especially . . .

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