The Wilsonian Impulse: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Alliance, and German Unification

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The Wilsonian Impulse: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Alliance, and German Unification

By Mary N. Hampton
Praeger, 1996
180 pp. $55.00
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A political scientist at the University of Utah argues that the United States sought to create, in the aftermath of World War II, a security community with European allies based on norms and values that went beyond the negative purpose of containing the Soviet Union and that was based not simply on the Munich analogy but on the need to integrate West Germany into an order embodying constitutional principles. The author perceptively develops that view, but runs into trouble because of the way that she -- following eminent authorities -- has framed the larger argument. No contemporary study would be complete without a mean straw man called "realism" to set aflame, nor without a cardboard image of Woodrow Wilson to which postwar policymakers paid putative obeisance. That Wilson's version of internationalism was universalistic and hostile both to limited security communities and to give-and-take among allies does not trouble these writers; that architects of the postwar system like Dean Acheson denounced Wilson and considered his influence mischievous is also of no import. The larger argument in which this book figures has got to get beyond these primitive simplifications if it is to make any progress.