"Without the controlling principle," Lippmann wrote in 1943, "that the nation must maintain its objectives and its power in equilibrium, its purposes within its means and its means equal to its purposes, its commitments related to its resources and its resources adequate to its commitments, it is impossible to think at all about foreign affairs." When foreign policy commentators go to heaven, the better ones pass under a portal engraven with these words. For over six decades, Lippmann navigated within the interstices of the gap that he diagnosed and made famous, displaying an uncanny gift for shrewd and prophetic judgment. In this work, which was a bestseller in the Second World War, Lippmann insisted upon the reality and permanence of the Atlantic community. He gave a trenchant critique of both the insular isolationism of the America Firsters and the universalistic nostrums of the unreconstructed Wilsonians. "One world," as Lippmann would later characteristically express his double-barreled attack on insularity and universalism, "we shall not see in our time. But what we may see, if we have the vision and the energy, is the formation of a great western community, at least a confederation of federations of European and American nations, determined to give the lie to those who say that our civilization is doomed and to give back faith and will to those who fear that freedom is perishing where it originated."
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.