In This Review

Morality, Reason, and Power: American Diplomacy in the Carter Years
Morality, Reason, and Power: American Diplomacy in the Carter Years
By Gaddis Smith
Hill and Wang, 1986, 237 pp
Purchase

The author draws on memoirs of policy participants and a range of other nondocumentary materials to provide a clear and readable survey of the major foreign policy challenges faced by the Carter Administration. While not offering strikingly new interpretations, the study effectively underscores the steady shift in national mood and priorities that complicated Carter's domestic political environment, analyzes the personality and policy conflicts that steadily grew during the Carter years, and illustrates the evolution in emphasis from morality to power. He argues that Carter was unsuccessful in two of the three fronts critical for political success in foreign policy-successfully identifying himself with U.S. moral goals but failing to persuade the public that he had strengthened the economy of the nation or its military security. To some extent this was due to bad luck, poor timing, and complex and difficult foreign policy challenges, but the author firmly places much of the responsibility on the character and personality of the President himself.