Courtesy Reuters

Policy-Making in a World Turned Upside Down

According to legend, when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, he sent the British army marching out with colors cased and drums beating to the tune, "The World Turned Upside Down." Repeatedly over the intervening years, as in the preceding centuries, history has harbored those who have turned the world, or whose world has turned, upside down. Some were bent on radically uprooting, others on beneficially preserving, each according to his own lights. Revolutionaries and traditionalists alike frequently find the world behaving contrary to expectations.

On seven continents, change is proceeding in ways that defy the ideologists and soothsayers alike. Change-and anxiety. "We do not know what will be born," said Valery at Zurich four years after the Armistice of 1918, "and we fear the future, not without reason. We hope vaguely, we dread precisely."

Yet articulation is preferable to brooding. The dire dilemmas of our day must for each of us become personal ones as events impinge upon our lives and responsibilities. Even the most casual among us has a duty to himself to try to pull together his scattered thoughts to see whether any practical insights have come to him from his training, his travel, his reading, his conversations and his work. All this encourages me to speculate, somewhat introspectively, about certain aspects of the foreign-policy world in which I now live.

The traditional professional way of looking at foreign policy is that of late nineteenth-century Europe, which assumed a world of vertically separated sovereign states presided over by good, bad or nondescript governments, internally compartmentalized for policy-making purposes. In those days, at least in theory, responsibilities were fixed. Each participant knew with whom he was "dealing." The experts and operators inside each government knew where their obligations and responsibilities lay. Their essential task was to sort out the problems confronting them from abroad, to line these problems up against any favorite goals of their own, and then to set about pursuing a course of action guided by the touchstone of

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