A Nation Like All Others: A Brief History of American Foreign Relations

Columbia Univ. Apr. 2018. 354p. index. ISBN 9780231175661. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231545952. POL SCI
OrangeReviewStarThe idea of American exceptionalism, that the United States would promote democracy, equality, and fairness around the globe has long been a feature of the nation's public approach to international relations. But in reality, we have had tragic blunders, expensive failures, and plenty of greed driven by crass imperialistic and economic motives—just like other nations in the world. Cohen (Distinguished Univ. Professor, Emeritus, Univ. of Maryland Baltimore Cty.; America's Response to China) is proud of but disappointed in the United States. He feels that the security demands during the Cold War era led to the abandonment of the high ideals that made this country great and offers a critical interpretation of the use and abuse of power and its many consequences. The "moral imagination" of our leaders is highlighted to show how that might have guided national policy to match the ideal, although it frequently was pushed aside in practice. Includes an index but no bibliography or reference notes.
VERDICT A fast yet comprehensive read with wide appeal for those interested in how the country has evolved to its present uncomfortable condition.
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