A convincing reassessment of Lyndon Johnson's foreign policy. Although Brands (History/Texas A&M; The Devil We Knew, 1993,...


THE WAGES OF GLOBALISM: Lyndon Johnson and the Limits of American Power

A convincing reassessment of Lyndon Johnson's foreign policy. Although Brands (History/Texas A&M; The Devil We Knew, 1993, etc.) admits that it is difficult to consider LBJ's record in foreign affairs without immediately thinking of the debacle in Vietnam that wrecked his presidency, that is nonetheless what he attempts to do. Coming to the Oval Office at the height of the American Century, Johnson inherited a tradition of American globalism that began with the Spanish-American War, gained momentum in WW I, and peaked after WW II, from which the United States emerged as the greatest economic and military force in the world, able to project its power around the planet. The author argues that Johnson continued in this vein and that many of his accomplishments deserve to be understood and applauded. Obsessed with Communism and the nagging question of ""Who lost Cuba,"" Johnson intervened in Vietnam and successfully invaded the Dominican Republic, ostensibly to protect American lives but in reality to prevent a supposed Communist takeover. When the Six-Day War broke out in the Middle East, Johnson could not, as Eisenhower did in the Suez crisis of 1956, force Israel to give up territory gained. He did, however, use America's coercive influence to limit the scope and duration of the war. He suffered the snub of de Gaulle ordering US troops out of France and withdrawing from NATO, but soldiers remained in Europe and he kept the alliance together. He helped halt wars between Greece and Turkey and between India and Pakistan. In many ways, Brands offers Johnson as a transitional figure between the days of American hegemony and the current era when a multipolar world often seems to confound and stymie US foreign policy. Judicious and well researched, the volume presents a good opening in the reappraisal of Johnson and his administration.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994


Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994