Lenczowski has written a quirky book that is part polemic and part prescription. He charges that the United States has lost sight of two vital elements of foreign policy: grand strategy and what he calls “full spectrum diplomacy.” The specialized and technocratic mindset of the functionaries populating the U.S. government, Lenczowski holds, has reduced the country’s foreign policy to a set of unrelated initiatives and negotiations. Blindly tunneling bureaucrats in many different offices dig industriously, but U.S. foreign policy as a whole has no shape. In Lenczowski’s view, hard-power enthusiasts underestimate the importance of soft power, and soft-power proponents shy away from frankly using all available forms of power to advance U.S. interests. He argues that a less dysfunctional relationship between the two sides could be found during the early years of the Cold War, when public diplomacy, economic aid, military policy, and cultural interventions (such as the CIA’s support for the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an anticommunist group) worked together as part of an effective strategy to combat communism. The comparison with today, Lenczowski acknowledges, is not exact, and some of his examples and prescriptions will strike readers as far-fetched. Nevertheless, the core concerns he addresses are vital.
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