Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line


At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions


Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists


‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam


‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6


AMERICA'S STRATEGY IN WORLD POLITICS, by Nicholas John Spykman. Harcourt Brace and Co., New York. 472 pp. $3.75.

By J. A. B.

While most students of politics are flooding the presses with frantic expressions of "the great ideals of our democratic way of life," Professor Spykman has written a primer of power for America which is a direct descendant of Machiavelli's handbook for princes. His coolly objective approach to the present crisis is a relief both from the disciples of sweetness and light and from the evangelists of American imperialism. The author, Professor to International Relations at Yale, devotes his efforts to contemporary problems of American foreign policy. The major task of the book is to define America's position among the Powers as to her strategy for war and peace, and especially to damn isolationists forever. Its principal thesis is the primary importance of power in international polities.

Upon this thesis Spykman builds his house in which the family of nations lives about as peacefully as most families with a flock of aspiring young egos seeking self-expression. The United States, he believes, is caught in the game of power politics which finds us menaced by a super-pincers in the event of a German-Japanese victory and shows us as a bogeyman to South America, especially the A.B.C. countries. Economically tied to the transoceanic routes, we are also tied to them politically and militarily. The notion of hemispheric defence, streamlined stand of the isolationists, the author explodes by pointing our that while we can defend North America and the Carribean, once below the bulge we are in the "equidistant zone" which it would be impossible to defend in an Axis world.

Professor Spykman's post-war world would be made with the materials at hand--independent states. These nations will form leagues in each of the three major continental blocs, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. A strong country, like the United States, from each bloc will police the other blocs.

While it is encouraging to find an intelligent man who can still write a book without calling Hitler the devil, such an overwhelmingly realistic study as Spykman's appears extreme. His concept of balanced power may perhaps be broad enough to meet the challenge that power politics has already held the stage too long, and should not be perpetuated.

Yet as a realist, he is dogmatic in his insistence that ethics are tools, that thought is relative. To a realist any form of internationalism is a cloak for a dominant group. To him a balanced power is fairer than any World Federation which would be simply a disguise for Anglo-American hegemony. One need not be a Utopian, however, to feel that Spykman's world order excludes any finite goal, any emotional appeal, or any basis for action. Even Karl Marx, after all, had to postulate a goal in which his discouraging dialectic no longer worked.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.