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TheCanadian Review of American Studies, Volume VIII, Number 2, Fall 1977 TheAmericanizationof Henry Kissinger Bruce Mazlish. Kissinger, The European Mind in American Policy. N~w York:Basic Books, l976. 330 + xiii pp. Stephen J. Randall Whenone considers the plethora of terms - everything from isolationism to imperialism - which has been employed to describe United States foreignpolicy, it is interesting to notice that only one political figure has cometo be synonymous with an American foreign policy tradition. That figureis, of course, Woodrow Wilson. Wilsonianism, as much as it may haveseemed a dangerously myopic idealism to a George Kennan, has cometo be viewed - and more accurately, one might add - as a quest forinternational stability and world order under United States leadership, safefrom the extremes of revolutionary socialism and nationalism which Wilson and his closest associates perceived were tearing apart the internationalfabric . Giventhe position which Wilson thus occupies in the history of American foreign policy, it is only logical that he should function as a point ofreference indiscussionsof Henry Kissinger, and in his recent study, Kissinger, The European Mind in American Policy, Bruce Mazlish extends the comparisons which have been made on previous occasions. But if it is true that Wilson, like Kissinger,was a professional and respected academic prior to acquiring eitherappointed or elected office, and if it is also true that unlike Kissinger Wilson's primary area of interest was domestic affairs (although his second administration was absorbed by little other than international conflict), incontrastingWilson and Kissinger, Mazlish fails to recognize the important intellectualdebt which Wilson owed to the European tradition, in this case British rather than continental. Here, as elsewhere, Mazlish over-emphasizes Kissinger'suniqueness in the evolution of United States foreign policy. 222 Not only was Wilson, for example, intellectually and often politicallyan1 avowed Anglophile, but he also reached intellectual maturity at a time , and in an environment that owed a substantial debt to German develop. ments in education, history and science. Kissinger's apparent uniqueness is also perhaps somewhat qualified when , one places him in the broader contours of American foreign policy.He ( has been portrayed as exceptional because of the highly personalized, anti-institutional and psychologically-oriented diplomacy he conducted,and because he was the first Jew in United States history to serve as Secretan of State. None of his predecessors in the Cold War era, furthermore, had combined control of the National Security Council with the highest cabinet post. Kissinger is alleged as well to have revolutionized United States poliC) by effecting a Europeanization of American diplomacy, applying ide;s derived from Metternich, Bismarck, and Clausewitz, as well as someof the historical insights of Hegel and Spengler. Yet, when one considers Kissinger in the shadow of several of his predecessors, his orientation toward i the European model appears less startling than at first blush. Although ': they may not have been "professional" scholars in the sense that Mazlish \ employs the term, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, William Seward f and John Hay were very much students of international politics and diplomacy , and perhaps more in keeping with the traditional American foreign policy decision-making process than was Kissinger, although that is sure!~ ' another issue. , Analyses of Henry Kissinger have been laudatory or sympathetic, as, in the case of Marvin and Bernard Kalb's Kissinger;some have concentrated upon a narrow dimension of his policies, such as Edward Sheehan's The Arabs, Israelisand Kissinger;others have examined his concept and applica· tion of power, as with David Landau's study; finally, Stephen Graubard's treatment concentrates, as its title implies, on the intellectual underpinnings, of the pre-1968 academic analyst of foreign and strategic policy and sketches only an outline of the relationship between ideas and policy making. 1 Bruce Mazlish in his current study brings to bear a structured and sustained psychohistorical analysis which contributes not only to one's understanding of the pre-1968 Kissinger but adds as well to one's knowledge of the policies ( which ensued, as much as the latter falls outside the defined parameters· of the study. Certainly Mazlish's objectives are ambitious, seeking ashe does to "describe and analyze the basic elements of Kissinger's personality, 1 his fundamental pattern of behavior...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 221-228
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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