The preservation of a democratic civilization requires the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. The children of light must be armed with the wisdom of the children of darkness but remain free from their malice. They must know the power of self-interest in human society without giving it moral justification. They must have this wisdom in order that they may beguile, deflect, harness and restrain self-interest, individual and collective, for the sake of the community.
— Reinhold Niebuhr
The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, 1944
The foregoing pages accent the undeniable role played by the United States and its president in international affairs. For perhaps too long it has been fashionable in academic circles and in some diplomatic circles, as well, to hold that the United States has been in decline from the moment of its zenith of power—maybe in 1945, maybe with JFK's ringing inaugural in 1961. 1 No doubt things at home and in the world have changed markedly over the half century since the period immediately after World War II and the founding of the United Nations. But, given the totality of world events on view at the end of the twentieth century, it would seem that, with starts and stops along the way, the United States at the millennium continues to be in an ascending pattern.
At this moment the United Nations is an aging half century old, bulging with 185 members; and the United States is big and strong and internationally active. As we have suggested in these pages, we believe that we can find what we called in our introduction a persistent, and often tense, warp and woof in America's relationship with the United Nations. On the one hand has been the warp, a penchant for cool "realism" as evidenced by, for example, Henry Kissinger. On the other hand, there is the woof, a kind of sentimental "idealism" associated with Woodrow Wilson and his followers. We use the analogy of warp and woof because these predilections—realism and idealism—clearly have____________________