In This Review

Congress and the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
Congress and the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
By James M. Lindsay
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994, 228 pp.

A balanced and lucid survey of the role of Congress in U.S. foreign policy. Lindsay, a political scientist at Iowa, takes aim at both "irreconcilables," who think the congressional role has assumed imperial dimensions, and "skeptics," who discount Congress' impact on policy. The congressional deference of the 1950s for which irreconcilables yearn (or for which they yearned when Republicans controlled the White House) is a historical anomaly. Skeptics, by contrast, underrate the efficacy of Congress in criticizing and legitimizing executive leadership. The study displays an easy command of historical and constitutional precedent and, despite its slim size, is a comprehensive introduction to the subject. The conclusion -- that one cannot eliminate Congress' vices without impairing its capacity to act virtuously -- is sound enough but perhaps too sunny in a political climate where a weakened president provides a strong temptation for destructive partisanship.