Policy and Power: Two Centuries of American Foreign Relations

Policy and Power: Two Centuries of American Foreign Relations

Policy and Power: Two Centuries of American Foreign Relations

Policy and Power: Two Centuries of American Foreign Relations

Excerpt

It is a challenging and somewhat hazardous enterprise to undertake in brief form an account of American foreign relations. The task involves not only the selection of the items of foreign policy deemed most significant, but also the selection of data considered indispensable for an accurate analysis of particular items. This difficulty increases as it is applied to the last half- century, when American foreign relations have merged into world politics and the impact of world affairs on American life and institutions has been on an ever increasing scale. The United States is confronted with the necessity in its own national interest of using its great power and influence toward the creation of a more just, orderly, and peaceful world, and at the same time with the equal necessity of refraining from abusing its power abroad and from impairing its own free institutions in the exercise of power. It is one of the ironies of the present situation that as American foreign policies become more far flung and more interwoven with economic and military considerations, and, therefore, more complex and difficult to reduce to simple, clear, and brief analyses, the requirements of a responsible American citizenship make such analyses more imperative and increase the need for their examination in historical perspective. The unacceptable alternative is to delegate the great decisions of foreign policy to a central bureaucracy, and thus t permit the gradual erosion of American democratic society. But the perplexities of a problem do not provide an excuse for its neglect.

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