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Book: Faces of Power - Constancy and Change in United States Foreign Policy from Truman to Obama by Seyom Brown

Book: Faces of Power - Constancy and Change in United States Foreign Policy from Truman to Obama by Seyom Brown

categories: Book, National Security, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, U.S. President, Military, Hard Power, Soft Power, Smart Power, Grand Strategy, International Crises, World Politics, Foreign Policy


Seyom Brown

Author Seyom Brownabout this book: FACES OF POWER is the latest edition of Seyom Brown's classic analysis of moments of truth in U.S. foreign policy. Called by The New Yorker, "a thoughtful, large, and large-minded history," Brown's authoritative account, relying heavily on previously classified documents and his extensive contacts in the policy community, uncovers the basic assumptions underlying the most controversial foreign policy decisions since World War II.

His narratives expose great disagreement and ambivalence at the highest levels of the government over which aspects of American power to employ in dealing with adversaries and crises. He shows how and why Eisenhower and Reagan, for example, although giving prominence to nuclear weapons at the beginning their administrations, concluded their presidencies gravely concerned that strategies of mass destruction were distorting U.S. national security policy. He also explains why Presidents Carter and Obama each moved away from a dovish denigration of the use of force to a reluctant but realistic acceptance of military power as a tool of diplomacy. Despite the sometimes severe fluctuations and backlashes which Brown describes, he also finds that the overall trend has been toward a pragmatic grand strategy employing the variegated aspects of soft, hard, and smart power the United States can employ.

The completely new parts of the book which are devoted to the George W. Bush and Obama foreign policies reveal this evolution (especially during their second terms) from illusion to pragmatism. Brown shows both of them painfully learning, as did their predecessors, that having to deal with the world from the Oval Office transforms its occupant more than its occupant transforms the world.

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