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Traditions and Values in Politics and Diplomacy

Theory and Practice

by Kenneth W. Thompson

Political Traditions in Foreign Policy Series

456 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

Political Science & Political History

  Paperback / 9780807117460 / April 1992

In this informed and comprehensive assessment of current issues in international policies, Kenneth W. Thompson addresses the role that traditions and values play in shaping change and in helping us to understand its implications. He challenges the idea that the enormous changes in contemporary national and international life have rendered the consideration of traditions and values obsolete. Thompson’s purpose is to illuminate the problems we face and to set forth general principles directed toward an informing theory on traditions and values as they affect politics and diplomacy, while at the same time warning of the pitfalls and limitations of theory.

In the first section of this book, Thompson draws on classical and Judaeo-Christian traditions in defining the relationship between philosophy, religion, and politics. He then examines the application of abstract values to such political realities as national interest, and goes on to consider the question of moral values in international diplomacy and politics.

In a series of case studies, Thompson reflects on human rights, disarmament and arms control, and human survival. Maintaining that the implementation of traditions and values is sometimes uniquely the task of the American presidency, he studies the administrations of four postwar presidents—Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon—in the light of the executives’ attitudes toward ethics and politics. Finally, Thompson considers the implications of national decline and the breakdown of international order for the future of the United States.

The vast knowledge of international affairs and the literature of politics that Kenneth W. Thompson brings to this timely and reflective books makes it exceptionally readable as well as intellectually challenging. 

Kenneth W. Thompson is director emeritus of the White Burkett Miller Center of Public Affairs, and J. Wilson Newman professor of government and foreign affairs. He served as director of the Miller Center from 1978 to 1998. He is the author of some twenty books and coauthor of another two dozen.

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