In This Review

The Cloud of Danger: Current Realities of American Foreign Policy
The Cloud of Danger: Current Realities of American Foreign Policy
By George F. Kennan
Atlantic-Little Brown, 1977, 234 pp

A unique tour d'horizon, its author's habitual eloquence reinforced by deep feeling, this book will compel the attention and argument alike of those inclined to agree or dissent from its central theses. These are, first, that the United States is simply not equipped within the limitations of democratic methods to conduct an activist global foreign policy, and should narrow its focus to the central Soviet problems and to the support of NATO Europe, Japan, and (short of the use of military force) Israel; second, that in that area of focus we should judge Soviet behavior much less harshly than we often do, and avoid what he sees as the trend toward ever more militarization and hostility in the relationship. Many will feel that the author is too hard on America and too sanguine about Soviet policy, and that the results of his often flat-footed prescriptions - in the Middle East, in southern Africa, in Korea - would be very hard to take both in terms of American domestic politics and in terms of world strategy. But lay and professional readers alike will be forced to rethink their premises, surely one of the higher purposes of elder statesmen.