Hal Brands, Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post‐Cold War Order (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016 ). 362 pp. $29.95 (hardcover), ISBN: 9781501702723. Jeffrey A. Engel, When the World Seemed New: George Bush and the End of the Cold War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017 ). 484 pp. $35.00 (hardcover), ISBN: 9780547423067

Published date01 July 2018
Date01 July 2018
652 Public Administration Review July | A ugus t 201 8
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 78, Iss. 4, pp. 652–655. © 2018 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12962.
Can statecraft be managed? Or are nations
simply at the mercy of world events in
faraway places? That is the essential question
of two new books exploring the post–World War II
bi-polar period of the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet
Union, and the rise of the United States as the single
hegemonic power in a unipolar world.
Statecraft, as addressed in these books, can be
construed as those sets of strategies, policies, and
actions taken in foreign affairs to achieve results
favorable to the state. This definition implies an active
component in the practice of statecraft, employing
some or all of a full range of diplomatic, economic,
social, and military activities. Thatcher (2002)
distinguishes between statecraft and statesmanship:
“Statecraft and statesmanship are, according to the
dictionary definition interchangeable. But the former
has a more practical ring to it, emphasizing activity
rather than rhetoric, strategy not just diplomacy.
All too often, statesmanship turns out simply to be
political action of which we politicians approve—
frequently our own” (xvii). Both Brands and Engel
seem persuaded by this definition—that the foreign
affairs of the United States during the Cold War
were actively managed to achieve foreign policy goals
advantageous to the United States. Though, as we
shall learn, often in response to world events, not
without limitations and certainly with countervailing
pressures from other nations. As statecraft is again an
important consideration for American policy makers,
it is instructive to look again at the crucial Cold War
period of active American statecraft.
Both books are about the statecraft of the United
States, focus most directly on the demise of the Soviet
Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the ultimate
role of President George H. W. Bush (“Bush-41”)
in shaping the post–Cold War era. To one of his
biographers, the personal historical irony is irresistible:
“The Cold War was taking shape in Bush’s New
Haven years but he declined to be drawn into contests
or contentions other than those on the baseball
diamond. […] ‘I wasn’t politically involved. Most of
the other veterans felt the same’” (Greene 2000, 73).
The Cold War period can be defined generally as
that time from somewhere around the Potsdam
Conference in August, 1945 or perhaps mid-1946
with Churchill’s “iron curtain” speech, to the fall of
the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, or perhaps
the end of the Soviet Union in December, 1991.
Statecraft, during this period was defined largely by
the bi-polar competition between two seemingly peer
competitors: United States and the Soviet Union. This
competition was diplomatic, military, and economic
as each sought strategic spheres of influence around
the globe. Military alliances, the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact, emerged;
diplomatic divisions characterized the United Nations;
proxy wars were fought; and competition between
capitalist and socialist economic systems prevailed.
The end of the Cold War was celebrated by many
as a victory for the West and the triumph of liberal
democracy. Fukuyama (1989, 1) famously argued
“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of
the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of
postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is,
the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and
the universalization of Western liberal democracy as
the final form of human government.” And so it must
have appeared then.
The immediate post–Cold War period, can similarly
be delineated from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the
beginnings of the first Gulf War in 1990. Throughout
this period American statecraft by the administration
Reviewed by: Douglas A. Brook
Duke University
Hal Brands, Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and
the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University
Press, 2016 ). 362 pp. $29.95 (hardcover), ISBN: 9781501702723.
Jeffrey A. Engel, When the World Seemed New: George Bush and the
End of the Cold War (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017 ).
484 pp. $35.00 (hardcover), ISBN: 9780547423067
Douglas A. Brook is visiting professor
in the Sanford School of Public Policy at
Duke University and emeritus professor
of public policy at the Naval Postgraduate
E-mail: doug.brook@duke.edu

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