The World of the 70's
THE present moment in world politics is one of transition (defined once by a distinguished economist as the interval between two other periods of transition), and it is characterized on the level of theory and action alike by a great deal of confusion, by exaggerated hopes and exaggerated fears, by wishful thinking and groundless pessimism. Certainly one of the main contributing factors to the confusion is what has come to be known in America as neo-isolationism (it has also been called “the foreign politics of neo-humanism”)-that retreat from globalism which seems to be the defining mark of the current American mood. The retreat may not in the end go as far as some hope and others fear, but no one can dispute that the impulse behind it is today a major presence in American domestic politics or that its repercussions on the world scene will be widespread and decisive. Although it was no doubt hastened by Vietnam, there is reason to suppose that the new mood would have developed anyway, perhaps inevitably. Any sustained effort to pursue a global policy must be based either on a missionizing ideology of considerable firmness and longevity, or on a carefully calculated plan of action that combines ambition with farsightedness and discrimination.
Neither of these preconditions has been much in evidence in American foreign policy.
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