Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO

Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO

Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO

Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO

Excerpt

This book has as its theme the inception, growth, and apparent decline of the idea of collective security in modern--chiefly American--international relations. Most people would agree that the subject is an important one. There is at this time a special interest, it would appear, in the previously somewhat neglected task of clarifying our basic concepts of foreign policy. The often-heard lament that American citizens do not have enough knowledge about foreign affairs or take enough interest in them may indicate a need for conceptual guidance rather than for exhortation or new mounds of facts. Even policy makers, working under the pressure of day-to-day events, may profit from some fresh consideration of their underlying assumptions.

This process of analysis can hardly be performed without reference to the concrete facts of historical experience. What follows is not a history of American diplomacy in the modern era. As a historian by profession I have tried to immerse myself in the facts before emerging to tackle the analytical process. Much of what is done by political scientists in the theory of international relations is worth little because it is too abstract. Justice Holmes was surely right in holding that a page of history is worth volumes of theory in this field. On the other hand, too many historians bring to their task of empirical research no interest in or apparent capacity for analysis, and so they produce something the nonhistorian may justifiably regard as an almost meaningless collection of facts. Whether I have succeeded is quite another matter, but I have at least tried herein to combine the methods of the historian and the political scientist, and I am convinced that in abler hands the method must prove fruitful. Speaking of such problems as this one, a writer in the Times Literary Supplement (London) recently observed: "The urgent need is for interpretation--the dispelling of . . .

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