National Leadership and Foreign Policy: A Case Study in the Mobilization of Public Support

By James N. Rosenau | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
Consensus-Building in the American National Community

Data descriptive of social phenomena are never so clear-cut as to permit only one interpretation. The complexity of human behavior is such that quantification invariably reveals exceptions and contradictions. Yet major tendencies can often be discerned with sufficient clarity to justify the derivation of general conclusions. Such is the case in this study. Unless one rejects the questionnaire and the Conference as inaccurate and inappropriate measures of the opinion-making public, they do seem to have yielded data which are sufficiently patterned to enable us to add empirical flesh to our derived model of national leadership. Indeed, we are now in a position to answer virtually all the questions posed at the end of Chapter I: if the Conference on Foreign Aspects of U.S. National Security is any indication, it does seem possible to fashion a consensus among diverse groups of national leaders and then to enlist their energies in support of it. Apparently national opinion-makers do interact frequently and apparently they are getting to know one another. Their perceptions of the world scene do appear to be derived from similar frames of reference and similar sources of information. Their orientations do seem to be predominantly continental rather than segmental and, consequently, their assessments of how the United States should respond to trends abroad do seem to rest on a common core of values. Behaviorally they do appear to react similarly to shared experience. When gathered together and exposed to the same stimuli apparently they do become conscious, at least momentarily, of common interests and responsibilities that bridge the functional gaps which otherwise separate them. In short, there would seem to be considerable validity to the version of the consensus-building hypothesis that posits the emergence of a continental community based on an integrated structure of national leadership.1

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1
The words "seem," "apparently," and "appear" were deliberately

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