Russia and America, Dangers and Prospects

Russia and America, Dangers and Prospects

Russia and America, Dangers and Prospects

Russia and America, Dangers and Prospects

Excerpt

This report rests upon faith in the democratic process as a means of meeting the complex problems which confront the United States in the mid-twentieth century. We take it that foreign policy is a part of democratic politics, a continuing play of debate and consensus, of divergent interest and common cause. Foreign policy is not outside politics, nor should it be. Although we frequently meet complaints that the delicate work of the statesman or diplomat is made more difficult by the clamor of politics -- as indeed it is -- we should guard against the view that the statesmen of other times and other regimes were better able to pursue rational policies. A royal master, with his whims and courtiers; an oligarchy, with massive protected interests; an entrenched bureaucracy, with departmental concerns and prejudices; a modern tyranny, with its irrational compulsions -- these have proved at least equally disruptive, and certainly less responsive than voters and majorities to the correctives of time and discussion.

It is true, of course, that in its foreign policy the nation is supposed to be speaking as a whole to other nations. One can understand the plea that "politics should stop at the water's edge," that consensus rather than dissent should mark the formulation and execution of foreign policy, especially when this concerns cooperation with allies or a position toward an opponent. A deeply divided nation whose ability to determine a particular line of foreign policy depends upon narrow and uncertain majorities speaks with far less authority than one that can count on the support of the great body of the national community. Still, at any given time, this consensus must be hoped for rather than demanded. If the nation is in fact split on a major issue of its foreign policy, this issue must be aired. A prolonged suppression of divisions for the sake of demonstrating a solid front to the outside world could only backfire, and would . . .

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