Does America Need a Foreign Policy? : Toward a New Diplomacy for the 21st Century
In this timely, thoughtful, and important book, at once far-seeing and brilliantly readable, America's most famous diplomatist explains why we urgently need a new and coherent foreign policy and what our foreign policy goals should be in the post-Cold War world of globalization.
Dr. Henry Kissinger covers the wide range of problems facing the United States at the beginning of a new millennium and a new presidency, with particular attention to such hot spots as Vladimir Putin's Russia, the new China, the globalized economy, and the demand for humanitarian intervention. He challenges Americans to understand that our foreign policy must be built upon America's permanent national interests, defining what these are, or should be, in the year 2001 and for the foreseeable future.
Here Dr. Kissinger shares with readers his insights into the foreign policy problems and opportunities that confront the United States today, including the challenge to conventional diplomacy posed by globalization, rapid capital movement, and instant communication; the challenge of modernizing China; the impact of Russia's precipitous decline from superpower status; the growing estrangement between the United States and Europe; the questions that arise from making "humanitarian intervention" a part of "the New Diplomacy"; and the prospect that America's transformation into the one remaining superpower and global leader may unite other countries against presumed imperial ambitions.
Viewing America's international position through the immediate lens of policy choices rather than from the distant hindsight of historical analysis, Dr. Kissinger takes an approach to the country's current role as the world's dominant power that offers both an invaluable perspective on the state of the Union in global affairs and a careful, detailed prescription on exactly how we must proceed.
In seven accessible chapters, Does America Need a Foreign Policy? provides a crystalline assessment of how the United States' ascendancy as the world's dominant presence in the twentieth century may be effectively reconciled with the urgent need in the twenty-first century to achieve a bold new world order. By examining America's present and future relations with Russia, China, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, in conjunction with emerging concerns such as globalization, nuclear weapons proliferation, free trade, and the planet's eroding natural environment, Dr. Kissinger lays out a compelling and comprehensively drawn vision for American policy in approaching decades.
Former Secretary of State Kissinger ambitiously undertakes herein the total revamping of U.S. foreign policy. This is necessary, he contends, because even though the U.S. is enjoying an unprecedented preeminence, it lacks "a long-range approach to a world in transition." Recent U.S. foreign policy, he says, has become dangerously ad hoc, a case-by-case response to challenges as they occur. Needed instead is "ideological subtlety and long-range strategy," which Kissinger provides. Chapter by chapter, he analyzes the broad challenges facing the U.S. and the world, from globalization and its attendant promises and disruptions (he warns that globalization has enriched many and impoverished and dislocated many others) to humanitarian intervention from Somalia to Kosovo. In other chapters he offers recommendations on how the U.S. should proceed in various areas of the world: Europe, the Western Hemisphere, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Kissinger's point is that each region is unique and thus so should be U.S. foreign policy toward them. Our alliance with Europe, for example, is the bedrock of Kissinger's U.S. foreign policy; we must make sure, he warns, that the European Community remains a political partner, not a competitor. While not all will agree with his findings he is, for instance, quite skeptical about humanitarian intervention it is a pleasure to experience a first-class mind subtly explaining in an accessible way the immense intricacies of modern U.S. foreign policy. 6 maps. Agent, Marvin Josephson, ICM. (June 14) Forecast: Given the author's prominence, this is bound to get major media attention and to spark debate, fueled by national advertising and publicity and a four-city author tour. This title is a BOMC and History Book Club alternate. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Simon & Schuster
August 26, 2002
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Excerpt from Does America Need a Foreign Policy? by Henry Kissinger
Chapter One: America at the Apex: Empire or Leader
At the dawn of the new millennium, the United States is enjoying a preeminence unrivaled by even the greatest empires of the past. From weaponry to entrepreneurship, from science to technology, from higher education to popular culture, America exercises an unparalleled ascendancy around the globe. During the last decade of the twentieth century, America's preponderant position rendered it the indispensable component of international stability. It mediated disputes in key trouble spots to the point that, in the Middle East, it had become an integral part of the peace process. So committed was the United States to this role that it almost ritually put itself forward as mediator, occasionally even when it was not invited by all the parties involved -- as in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan in July 1999. The United States considered itself both the source and the guarantor of democratic institutions around the globe, increasingly setting itself up as the judge of the fairness of foreign elections and applying economic sanctions or other pressures if its criteria were not met.
As a result, American troops are scattered around the world, from the plains of Northern Europe to the lines of confrontation in East Asia. These way stations of America's involvement verge, in the name of peacekeeping, on turning into permanent military commitments. In the Balkans, the United States is performing essentially the same functions as did the Austrian and Ottoman empires at the turn of the last century, of keeping the peace by establishing protectorates interposed between warring ethnic groups. It dominates the international financial system by providing the single largest pool of investment capital, the most attractive haven for investors, and the largest market for foreign exports. American popular culture sets standards of taste around the world even as it provides the occasional flash point for national resentments.
The legacy of the 1990s has produced a paradox. On the one hand, the United States is sufficiently powerful to be able to insist on its view and to carry the day often enough to evoke charges of American hegemony. At the same time, American prescriptions for the rest of the world often reflect either domestic pressures or a reiteration of maxims drawn from the experience of the Cold War. The result is that the country's preeminence is coupled with the serious potential of becoming irrelevant to many of the currents affecting and ultimately transforming the global order. The international scene exhibits a strange mixture of respect for -- and submission to -- America's power, accompanied by occasional exasperation with its prescriptions and confusion as to its long-term purposes.
Ironically, America's preeminence is often treated with indifference by its own people. Judging from media coverage and congressional sentiments -- two important barometers -- Americans' interest in foreign policy is at an all-time low.1 Hence prudence impels aspiring politicians to avoid discussions of foreign policy and to define leadership as a reflection of current popular sentiments rather than as a challenge to raise America's sights. The last presidential election was the third in a row in which foreign policy was not seriously discussed by the candidates. Especially in the 1990s, American preeminence evolved less from a strategic design than a series of ad hoc decisions designed to satisfy domestic constituencies while, in the economic field, it was driven by technology and the resulting unprecedented gains in American productivity. All this has given rise to the temptation of acting as if the United States needed no long-range foreign policy at all and could confine itself to a case-by-case response to challenges as they arise.