Saturday, September 18, 2010


More from the U.S. foreign policy files: In American Foreign Policy Since World War II, John Spanier and Steven W. Hook argue that U.S. foreign policy is largely couched in moral terms. That makes the nation generally averse to fight, but when pressed to, the fights must be framed in terms of U.S. values: protecting liberty, democracy and freedom at home and abroad.

However, this "moralistic attitude also militated against the use of diplomacy in its classical sense: to compromise interests, to conciliate differences, and to moderate and isolate conflicts."

America's deep suspicion of diplomacy meant the nation was slow to create a permanent diplomatic corps. Hook and Spanier argue that this attitude has also made it difficult for the United States to compromise, because any compromise is not simply political but moral, which means a weakening of American values.

Their observations are in keeping with the U.S. trend of increasing traditional and public diplomacy resources during times of war and crisis and decreasing them during times of relative peace. The U.S. has always been a champion of democracy, but has this led the country away from compromise toward violence?

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