Beyond the Beltway: Engaging the Public in U.S. Foreign Policy

In This Review

Beyond the Beltway: Engaging the Public in U.S. Foreign Policy

Edited by Daniel Yankelovich and I. M. Destler
W. W. Norton & Company, 1994
315 pp. $28.00

Where do we go from here? This is the question taken up in this compilation of essays. With the end of the Cold War, the public has tended to retreat to isolationism while simultaneously demanding a more active role in decision-making, as in Bosnia or Haiti. This contradiction, combined with the absence of clear goals in a world with one military superpower but many economic giants, some emerging, some already established, frustrates both the president and the State Department.

David Gergen notes in his piece that President George Bush planned to give a series of four commencement addresses on the "new world order" following Desert Storm, but ultimately he gave only one speech and dropped the phrase from his lexicon. Nor has President Clinton been able to take charge and set an agenda. There are, as Gergen writes, no easy answers.

Daniel Yankelovich and John Immerwahr propose a series of campaigns to persuade the public to back an initiative, as Clinton did to win passage of NAFTA -- but for what goal? Donald McHenry calls for support for U.N. peacekeeping forces. Norman Ornstein wants Congress to strengthen its leadership and develop a better agenda-setting capability. Neither proposal is likely to get anywhere. B. R. Inman and Daniel Burton urge more cooperation between business and government on the foreign economic front. And so on. There is not much new here, but there is a great deal of solid thought presented by some of the leading commentators on foreign affairs. This volume will serve as a useful reference and as a source for the ongoing debate over where we go from here. Highly recommended.

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