The Two Faces of National Interest

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The Two Faces of National Interest

By W. David Clinton
Louisiana State University, 1994
278 pp. $35.00
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The author presents a well-informed and balanced discussion of the concept of national interest as it is used in international politics, particularly in American foreign policy. Noting the variety, ambiguity and changeability of meanings intended by those using the term, the author develops his own concept of national interest, which he hopes will avoid the pitfalls of excessive narrowness or broadness. His guidelines for foreign policy, based on case studies of the Nixon Doctrine and the Carter human rights policy, are suitability nuanced and balanced. In the end, however, it is not clear what the author has achieved by defining national interest in so subtle a fashion. The narrower versions of the concept at least have the value of defining a clear-cut minimalist policy. This book is useful, however, for its informative discussion of a term that is thrown around much too loosely.

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