Email this review


As a former member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, Mr. Halle is equipped through intensive study and analysis and practical experience to focus on Aspects of American Foreign Policy from both the historian's and the philosopher's viewpoint. The human nature of foreign policy is his basic theme, and he has used history as his springboard and a sympathetic but objectively critical approach to human fallibilities as his dissecting tool. Here, from the American Revolution- which he distinguishes sharply from other Revolutions- to today, when belatedly we are beginning to separate legend from reality- he weaves our critical points of development of foreign policy into a searching analysis of the fallacies with which we have cushioned our opinions and our actions. Particularly revealing is the section devoted to our record of ambiguity in our dealings with our Latin American neighbors,in which we have swung from paternalism to interventionalism and back. He has reviewed with singular detachment the steps from the orders which took Dewey to Manila Bay and the acquisition of the Philippines -- to Pearl Harbor, an inevitable sequence, seen after the events. He assesses the quixotic impulses which involved us futilely in China's tragedy-seeing America's self conscious morality posed against the Old World chicanery. Recurrently throughout history expansionist practice has contradicted our fundamental isolationist habit of mind -- and the price we have paid. Much of this is implicit in the operations of democracy, which make foreign policy the product of a consensus of diverse peoples,- unmanageable, shallow and tending to the danger that leadership will abnegate responsibility. Only since 1947 with the decisive action in Greece have we matured to an understanding of the realities we must face...Challenging-disturbing to those legends we cherish-this provides a basic philosophy.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1959
Publisher: Harper