The collected speeches of Christopher, delivered during his tenure as secretary of state, with commentary by the author....

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IN THE STREAM OF HISTORY: Shaping Foreign Policy for a New Era

The collected speeches of Christopher, delivered during his tenure as secretary of state, with commentary by the author. Christopher argues that speeches, far from obsolete in this era of sound bites, continue to serve as an important medium for articulating foreign policy. Hardly known as a great orator, the author admits his speeches focused less on style than substance; they were written ""for the eye as much as the ear."" As prose, they read surprisingly well and present an informative overview of US foreign policy during President Clinton's first term in office. Christopher's commentary offers insight into the purpose and context of each speech. In all, he and Clinton were faced with the challenge of creating a coherent foreign policy without a clear defining purpose such as ""containment."" Christopher enumerates principles for retaining American world leadership, for promoting global cooperation and supporting democracy and human rights. Yet whether these principles add up to a defining purpose is a question any reader might pursue. Clinton's first term was actually an active period in foreign policy: from NAFTA to Middle East peace negotiations, from the war in Bosnia to the restoration of democracy in Haiti, from reinvigorating NATO to supporting the new order in Russia Christopher discusses all these initiatives in detail. Of note is the emphasis on human rights and the environment, areas of foreign policy not given priority in the past. Also worth considering is what's missing: In a collection of some 37 speeches, only one concerns Africa. Always the diplomat, however, Christopher isn't given to harsh criticism. Nor does he assign blame for foreign policy mishaps. As such, the book retains a certain blandness--and lacks introspection. Overall, still a useful history of recent American foreign policy.

Pub Date: July 1, 1998

ISBN: 0804734682

Page Count: 616

Publisher: Stanford Univ.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998