America at Century's End

James R. Schlesinger, Author Columbia University Press $55 (112p) ISBN 978-0-231-06922-9
Ex-CIA director and former Secretary of Defense and of Energy, Schlesinger gives a bland performance in this 88-page volume, a set of three lectures delivered in 1988 at Columbia University. Analyzing the American character, he finds us to be a feisty, excitable people with a disregard for authority; extrapolating from this profile, he then considers U.S. foreign and domestic policies. As a superpower, he charges, America is too soft-hearted and lacks steadiness of purpose. The moral he draws from the Iranian arms-for-hostages scandal is that ``in our society covert operations will be accepted only if they are in support of openly declared policy goals.'' He offers sketchy guidelines as to how future covert operations might be conducted. Elsewhere he addresses TV's role in shaping public opinion, the carnival atmosphere of presidential elections, U.S. military failure in Vietnam, the appeal (to some) of Reagan's Star Wars and the public's alleged complacency concerning energy sources. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/25/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
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