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"Real Security "
by Richard J. Barnet

"Solvency: The Price of Survival"
by James Chace

Review by John Gabree

Here are two views of foreign policy contrary to the neo-Cold War mentality now prevalent in Washington, one by the founder of the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies, the other by the managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine.

Barnet, of the Institute for Policy Studies, argues that even if U.S. nuclear superiority was achievable, world peace would not be guaranteed. Despite vast arsenals, neither superpower has had much luck in the last decade controlling events in either the Third World or its own backyard. Vietnam or Afghanistan, Iran or Egypt, neither side has been successful at using the carrot of military aid or the stick of military intervention to its advantage. There appear to be limits to what force can achieve.

The Reagan administration has accelerated the shift, begun under Carter, from dentente to a conflict model of international relationships. The trouble with this approach, of course, is that it raises the spectre of nuclear annihilation. Barnet believes national security lies more realistically in arms control and international cooperation. He favors working toward a stable world order based on a diffused political power that takes into account Third World aspirations and needs.

"Solvency" is an interesting essay, flawed by Chace's tendency to argue backward from diplomatic necessity to domestic policy. He makes the case for economic strength as the key to foreign policy. U.S. policy is crippled, he believes, by unrealistic and irrelevant goals and by the weakness of an economy based on credit. He calls for a reduction in our dependency on foreign resources, the creation of a coherent national energy policy, the curbing of consumerism in favor of the rebuilding of our economic base, and the rebirth of American industry and technology. Though these recommendations are short on specifics, they do provide a provocative alternative to the greed and hopelessness that characterize official policy these days.

These authors agree that we cannot defeat the Russians by being more bellicose than they (or that perhaps we can, but to what end?). Our open economic system and democratic institutions give us a clear advantage in any political conflict with the Soviets. If we can reduce our foreign entanglements, especially our dependence on imported oil, and develop a realistic appreciation of our power and a practical set of foreign policy goals, they believe genuine national security can be achieved. (1982)

Buy Real Security by Richard J. Barnet
or Solvency: The Price of Survival by James Chace



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