chapter  10
32 Pages

Public Opinion and Foreign Policy [2001]

A diverse group of pundits, politicians, and policy-makers has depicted public opinion as the proverbial 800-pound gorilla on the back of o cials who seek to protect vital national interests in the post-Cold War international arena. One line of criticism, o en associated with “realists,” depicts an emotional but poorly informed public that, energized by television images of unspeakable su ering at the hands of local tyrants, has pushed the United States into well-intentioned but hopeless and o en dangerous undertakings-for example, “nation-building” in Somalia or “restoring democracy” in Haiti. George Kennan, the dean of American realists, chided the Bush administration for its intervention in Somalia on precisely these grounds (Kennan, 1993, A25).