Americas Foreign Policy: Drift or Decision by Martin Goldstein

By Martin Goldstein

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Americas Foreign Policy: Drift or Decision

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Repeatfalse alert. " The people in the room seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief. "Call 'em back, Captain," the colonel called over his shoulder. A half hour later, the last aircraft glided to a halt on the tire-tracked runway. If there was a mood of relief at base headquarters, that feeling was even more intense at the Situation Room located in the basement of the White House. There, the undersecretary of statethe highest official from the department still on duty at that time of nightand the president, together with the president's chief military assistant and a handful of other officials, Felt their pulses gradually return to normal.

Then, at Munich in 1938, without consulting Moscow, the West gave Germany the go-ahead to seize Czechoslovakia. In Soviet eyes, Hitler was being encouraged to move eastward. Stalin responded by signing the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany in August 1939. Even when the Soviet Union and the West became allies, as the result of Hitler's attack on Russia in June 1941, the West continued its pattern of hostility, according to revisionists. Because of the tremendous losses suffered by the Red Army and the civilian population, Stalin repeatedly called for the opening of a second front in Europe; but it was not until 1944 that the Allies landed at Normandy.

Still other nations have seen foreign policy as a means for exporting their own way of life, a frequently heard justification of imperialism. While these factors may help account for the foreign policies of various states at different times, a more systematic explanation of foreign policy is provided by the concept of national interest. This idea presumes that nations have interests that they pursue on domestic and foreign fronts. Governments call upon foreign policy to achieve those objectives that depend upon the actions of other states, international organizations, foreign-based multinational corporations, and other outside bodies.

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