In This Review

Divided We Fall: Gambling with History in the Nineties
Divided We Fall: Gambling with History in the Nineties
By Haynes Johnson
W. W. Norton & Company, 1994, 431 pp.

What stands out in this first assessment of the first year of the Clinton administration is how disinterested President Clinton is in foreign policy. Indeed, no president since Calvin Coolidge has spent so little time, thought or energy on foreign affairs. The index, under "Clinton, William Jefferson, foreign policy of," has three entries (pages 53, 315 and 390). There are no entries for the secretary of state or the Department of State.

Haynes Johnson is a widely respected reporter and author of the best-selling Sleepwalking through History. In this sequel, he interviews Americans from all walks of life. Evidently none of them cares much about America's role in the world. What they do worry about is the economy and related subjects, such as the decline of education. The people Johnson interviewed are unhappy about the present and deeply pessimistic, even fearful, about the future. They almost seem to yearn for the good old days of the Cold War, when America had full employment and a world mission.

Johnson had a long, exclusive interview with President Clinton, which he records at some length. It is full of generalization and idealism and rests on the assumption that America is in terrible trouble. There is not one word on foreign policy, not even NAFTA or other international economic issues.