Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939

In This Review

Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920-1939

By Warren F. Kuehl and Lynne K. Dunn
Kent State University Press, 1997
306 pp. $49.00
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This rewarding study is a continuation of the inquiry launched in Kuehl's Seeking World Order (1969). Kuehl died after completing a draft of this study, and we are indebted to Dunn, a historian at Winthrop University, for ably refashioning the manuscript and bringing it to publication. The interwar debate anticipates, in its perplexity, much of the present mood. As the authors note, "acceptance of the responsibility to use sanctions lay at the heart of any U.S. commitment to a world community," yet the majority of the internationalists were unwilling to assume that commitment and placed their faith in moral suasion. The nationalists, by contrast, had a keener sense of how the world worked, but failed utterly (unlike the internationalists) to appreciate that instability in Europe could well pose a formidable challenge to American security and well-being. Let us hope the current debate yields a better choice than that posed then: between the universalism and pacifism of the internationalists and the unilateralism and insularity of the nationalists.