A thoughtful state-of-the-union message from the Arkansas politician who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee...

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THE PRICE OF EMPIRE

A thoughtful state-of-the-union message from the Arkansas politician who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee longer than any officeholder in American history--and who sponsored the eponymous legislation that established an international exchange program for graduate students. When Fulbright (who turned 83 last April) went to Washington during the early years of WW II, the US was at the height of its global power and prestige. Now he looks back more in sorrow than in anger at what has become of the American dream. A Wilsonian (to the extent that he believes deeply in moral imperatives), the author offers vivid analyses of the social as well as economic costs of waging a cold war with Eastern Bloc nations. In particular, Fulbright (an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War) decries the interventionist policies that have embroiled the US in local conflicts in Central America and elsewhere, including the Mideast. A staunch supporter of multilateral organizations like the UN, he also derogates the ruinously expensive arms race that engages the talents of the best and brightest Americans and their Soviet counterparts. On the home front, Fulbright casts a cold eye on an electoral system that in his opinion has reduced presidential campaigns to a demeaning form of TV entertainment. A parliamentarian at heart, the sometime Rhodes scholar expresses grave concern for the risks involved in the ways that the executive branch of government has contrived to make itself virtually invulnerable to congressional oversight in the conduct of foreign affairs. Along his pensive way, Fulbright provides pro forma apologias for against-the-grain stands on, among other issues, LBJ's Tonkin Gulf Resolution and civil-rights legislation--and his protestations about the futility of committing political suicide on racial matters ring a bit false in the context of otherwise principled positions. These quibbles apart, Fulbright's undespairing testament affords valuable, ad rem perspectives on the US and its prospects.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988