THE PUBLIC AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY 1918-1978 by Ralph B. Levering

THE PUBLIC AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY 1918-1978

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Foreign Policy Association commissioned this brief survey as part of its 60th anniversary celebration--a time-span which coincides with the book's. 1918 is taken as a watershed, marking the emergence of the US as a world power. Presumably, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, ""Manifest Destiny,"" the Monroe Doctrine, et al. are on a lower order of significance for the proposed topic, though it is not clear exactly why. Given the limitations set for him, Levering does a decent if predictable job. Arguing that education, patterns of media usage, and ethnic and party affiliations have proven to be the prime determinants of foreign policy orientation among the public, he draws on public-opinion research and other published material in outlining the undulating relationship between public opinion and policy formation. Levering acknowledges that this is a tricky business, since it is impossible to ""prove"" which way the causal arrows are pointing at any given time, but the picture that emerges is one in which politicians, through the media, lead public opinion, rather than vice versa (the exceptions most often involve ethnic or religious considerations, as in German-American non-interventionism before World War II, Catholic support of Franco in the Spanish Civil War, etc.). But no stable set of relationships appears, and all general statements remain tentative.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1978
Publisher: Morrow