The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2006

to share credit with the officers and support staff who advised him, educat- ed him and aided his efforts to defend U.S. interests. Still, this reviewer was a bit disap- pointed that Perkins did not take advantage of hindsight to comment on some policy issues that are still contro- versial, such as Washington’s relations with Liberian dictator Samuel Doe and with Saddam Hussein following the Persian Gulf War. I also take issue with his assessment of Chester A. Crocker, assistant secretary of State for African affairs throughout the Reagan administration. Despite much opposi- tion, he brokered the December 1988 New York agreements that brought about the independence of Namibia and the withdrawal of Cuban and South African troops from Angola. One of the great postwar U.S. diplo- matic achievements, those agree- ments also contributed more than any other event, in my view, to the end of apartheid. Yet Perkins gives Crocker only tepid praise for them in a single short paragraph which, unfortunately, reflects mixed feelings toward the man himself. That said, Ed Perkins has written a first-rate memoir that merits the attention of a wide public. Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, a retired FSO, was assistant secretary of State for African affairs during the George H.W. Bush administration. Be Careful What You Wish for The Case for Goliath Michael Mandelbaum, Perseus Books Group, 2005, $26, hardback, 283 pages. R EVIEWED BY P ARKER W YMAN Professor Michael Mandelbaum’s novel thesis in The Case for Goliath is that ever since World War II, the United States has been performing some of those “services” that a world government would be providing if such a government existed. In the economic sphere, this role was under- taken at the Bretton Woods Confer- ence in 1944, as the means to avoid a repetition of the worldwide economic disasters of the interwar period. In the sphere of national security, “What began as emergency measures to forti- fy its coalition partners in the Cold War became, over time, services that the United States provided to the world as a whole.” In both cases the primary American motivation was to advance its own interests, but in both cases the rest of the world benefited more than its spokesmen have been willing to admit. Mandelbaum devotes a lot of atten- tion to the dissatisfaction and outrage that American activities of this type have caused in other countries, even when they met with a significant de- gree of tacit consent on the part of for- eign leaders. He discusses a wide vari- ety of factors contributing to those reactions. Some of them relate to the content of American policies, some to the many differences between Ameri- can values and values elsewhere, and some to the advantages foreign gov- ernments find in deflecting criticism that would otherwise be directed at themselves. A major factor has been the handicap of a nation so powerful that it is often seen as “the world’s Goliath.” The author doubts whether the United States will continue to exer- cise such a dominant role in interna- tional relations, however. This is not so much because of foreign opposi- tion, or even American dissatisfaction with the results achieved, but because it will prove impossible to finance such a role and also fund the staggering future Social Security and Medicare entitlements to which American voters will attach greater importance. Equally disquieting, he sees no other nation, alliance or inter- national organization as likely to take over that role, and he predicts that the world will regret our withdrawal from it. One aspect of this book I particu- larly appreciate is that Mandelbaum is not trying to whitewash or denigrate the record of any American adminis- tration. Rather, he is seeking to explain in basic terms how the United States has been behaving on the inter- national scene, what the consequences of that behavior have been, and what changes are likely in the future. No one can be perfectly objective in pur- suing such a task, but I think he has done remarkably well in this relatively short and consistently lucid book. I also enjoyed the apt and humorous quotations with which he illustrates some of his main points, and an aston- ishing final sentence that aptly sums up his predictions for the future. I feel sure Foreign Service person- nel will find The Case for Goliath thought-provoking and pertinent. It should be of particular interest to many, like myself, who have long thought that the ever-closer interde- pendence of the nations of the world 50 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 6 B O O K S Mandelbaum doubts that the United States will continue to exercise its current dominant role in international relations.