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Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy…
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Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938

by Stephen E. Ambrose, Douglas Brinkley

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657723,114 (3.78)2
'ONE OF THE MOST LIVELY AND PROVOCATIVE INTERPRETIVE STUDIES OF THE MAJOR EVENTS IN RECENT AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC HISTORY.' - AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW Incorporating the most recent scholarship, the ninth edition of this classic survey, newly revised and updated through the presidency of George W. Bush, offers a concise and informative overview of eh evolution of American foreign policy from 1938 to the present, focusing on such pivotal events as World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and 9/11. Authors Ambrose and Brinkley also closely examine such topics as the Iran-Contra scandal, free election in Nicaragua, the rise of international terrorism, the Gulf War, and President Clinton's international trade policy. In light of the enormous global power of the United States, the authors analyse how American economic aggressiveness, racism, and fear of Communism have shaped the country's evolving foreign policy. 'AN EXCELLENT SURVEY OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY - LIBRARY JOURNAL… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Interesting book. A bit dry at times, but well worth plowing through. Well written work on the changes in foreign policy over the years. Concludes with the beginning of the Obamam era. ( )
  douboy50 | Apr 24, 2019 |
The fact that one can get a copy of Stephen Ambrose's Rise to Globalism at virtually any American used bookstore attests to the overwhelmingly positive reception accorded this synthesis, which by 1983 had gone through 12 reprintings. The success of Ambrose's book may rest in his ability to provide critical judgments of American foreign policy within a balanced framework. As a survey it functions admirably.

On contentious issues, Ambrose seems to straddle controversy and approach the golden mean. Yet his conclusions are often critical of American attitudes and actions. The chapter on the beginnings of the Cold War, for instance, offers a critique of mutual U.S.-Soviet intransigence over the settlement in East Europe. At first glance it appears to be here that Ambrose locates the origin of the Cold War, in mutual hostilities which offer enough "blame" to go around. Though he notes that "there is no satisfactory date to mark the beginning of the Cold War," he strikes a note of inevitability by pointing out that "Russia controlled Eastern Europe. This crucial result of World War II destroyed the Grand Alliance and gave birth to the Cold War." (93) If one reads further, a more critical note becomes audible.

Ambrose makes clear that it is certainly understandable that Americans would have been outraged at Soviet actions in Eastern Europe, since "they shut the West out completely. By any standard the Soviet actions were high-handed, their suppressions brutal."(98) The Soviets had every right, however, to expect to control that region as its sphere of influence. The illusion of omnipotence, the false belief that America could influence events even in the Soviet zone is ultimately the "cause" of the Cold War. Truman was the first in a long line of Cold War presidents who would fail to differentiate between American influence and power.

"American influence would never be as great as American power. Over the next two decades American leaders and the American people were forced to learn that bitter lesson. American power vilas vaster than anyone else,' s, but in many cases it was not usable power and thus could not be translated into diplomatic victory. Vietnam would be the ultimate proof of American inability to force others to do as she wished, but the process began much earlier, in 1945, with Truman's attempt to shape the course of events in East Europe." (105)

What differentiates Ambrose's criticism from that of many of the revisionist writers of the New Left is his lack of a thoroughgoing critique of the American system in his survey. His criticism remains at the level of tactics. In the instance of the beginnings of the Cold War, Truman failed to be sufficiently realistic about Eastern Europe. One senses that Ambrose believes FDR could have done a better job of "dealing" with the Soviets.

Stephen Ambrose's chapter on the Korean War concentrates on President Truman's approach to the conflict. Ambrose credits Harry Truman with the institutionalization of the Cold War, a process whereby the strategy of containment was instituted on a global scale. In a manner strikingly similar to Gar Alperovitz, he argues that the Korean War provided the pretext under which Truman solidified America's position in Europe. This Asian war provided the excuse Truman needed for rearming America and NATO (to include Germany). Despite the Europe-fist overtones of the Truman-Acheson strategy in NSC-68, the vision of containment was becoming increasingly global.

The Korean War provided the context in which a major shift toward globalism took place. Yet the process of instituting vhat one revisionist on WvJI had called "permanent war for permanent peace" was not without its difficulties. The primary difficulty with the process of institutionalization was that this regularized approach to a high level of peace-time preparedness was quite foreign to the American mind.

"Containment had never been very satisfying emotionally, built as it was on the constant reiteration of the Communist threat and the propaganda line that divided the line into areas that were free and those that were enslaved. Millions of Americans wanted to accept their Christian obligation and free the slaves. Other millions waned to destroy, not just contain, the Communist threat, on the grounds that if it were allowed to exist, the Cold War would go on forever, at a constantly increased cost." (181-2)

Within this context the conflict between MacArthur and Truman over vlar aims in Korea takes on added importance. MacArthur, seeking to roll back Communism in Asia, questioned the very strategy of Truman's policy of world-wide containment of Communism. Reflecting the popular American frustration with containment, MacArthur became an instant popular hero after his dismissal. Truman, hmvever, won out in the end. Despite tactical defeats, his strategy of containment had been implemented on a global scale. America was in it for the long haul. ( )
  mdobe | Jan 13, 2018 |
A good overview history; some sweeping generalisations, and passes over some of the salient details of the Wars. Nevertheless, worthwhile. ( )
  chriszodrow | Sep 22, 2015 |
The first part of the book that covers the Cold War is quite compelling. Ambrose delves into more than just Cold War politics, as he effectively argues that neither the US nor the USSR properly understood the rise of radical Islam in 1970s. American political leaders saw it (particularly the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) through the lens of the Cold War. American leaders failed to notice that the Ayatollah hated communist Russia as much as the US.

The book takes a massive detour when Brinkley gets his hands on it. The Clinton years are covered in the most hodge-podge way possible. Brinkley meanders about jumping from Bosnia to Somalia to Iraq to Russia back to Bosnia then to Japan and back to Russia then to China then NATO.

It is apparent that this book has gone through multiple editions without effective editing. ( )
  w_bishop | May 15, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book. Ambrose gives a good overview of U.S. foreign policy during this period, and although I did not always agree with his analysis, he offers thoughtful insights into why certain politicians and military officials acted as they did. I also found that the chapters on the Vietnam War brought into startling relief the similarities between that war and the current war in Iraq. ( )
  carlym | Aug 17, 2007 |
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Stephen E. Ambroseprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brinkley, Douglasmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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