THE GIANTS: Russia and the United States by Richard J. Barnet

THE GIANTS: Russia and the United States

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Not the powerhouse that its title suggests, this is an examination of the meaning of detente. Barnet, co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies and author of The Roots of War, wants to get behind the facade to see what really motivated Soviet and US leaders to seek a rapprochement, and about that he has a theory. Claiming that there are ""a half dozen or so"" men at the top in each country who determine foreign policy, he argues that increased contacts between these elites have led them to recognize each other as kindred spirits--an unsurprising conclusion if one begins, as Barnet does, with the assumption that elites are all the same anyway. By the time he finishes describing the interchanges, the original group has grown to include the President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, State Department higher-ups, SALT and other negotiators, embassy staffs, and of course their Soviet counterparts. Since Barnet starts out with his elite theory already formed, it becomes more of a definitional term than an analytic concept. In trying to look beyond the manifestations of detente for some quasi-sociological explanation, he ignores any claim that can be made for detente as a rational framework for foreign policy (for which see Coral Bell's fine Diplomacy of Detente, below)--and since his ""deeper"" investigation founders on his elite theory, there is not much left except hands-across-the-Curtain, even for the intended general audience.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Simon & Schuster