Books by Edward Perkins

HISTORY
Released: April 1, 1999

Boren (a former US senator and now president of the Univ. of Oklahoma) and Perkins (a former ambassador and director of the Univ. of Oklahoma's International Programs Center) have put together contributions from some of the heaviest hitters in the field of foreign policy. National security advisors (notably Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinzki), ambassadors, and the like abound. In all, they cover about every aspect of US foreign policy one can think of: relations with particular nations (especially China), military challenges, intelligence gathering, trade policy, environmental policy, the role of the media. While each piece stands alone, collectively the book reveals an overall elite consensus on what the US faces in the world and what it should do in the world. Relief that the Cold War is over is mixed with a muted nostalgia for the certainties of that era, when the US was the leader of the Free World, and that was that. Today, among emerging and competing power centers in a world of increasing complexity, America's role is less clear. But it must avoid a retreat into isolationism when facing diplomatic, trade, and, somewhat more cautiously, military challenges. National bipartisan consensus should be reached on just what values and goals the US wishes to pursue, and domestic issues must not be allowed to interfere too deeply in the pursuit of this national interest. There is much to learn here, but after a while a certain sameness in tone and message emerges. Missing are stronger dissenting voices, contributions that don—t share an essentially neoliberal consensus. When four former and current CIA directors dominate the discussion of intelligence, criticism is muted. When CEOs of some of America's top corporations discuss trade issues, without balancing contributions from, say, organized labor, a certain perspective is bound to dominate. Useful in finding out what foreign policy elites are thinking these days, but hardly a provocative mix of views and interests. Read full book review >