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The Carter Years

Toward a New Global Order

Richard C. Thornton

586 pages
Paragon House

This book, reprinted from the original 1991 edition, is still the classic on President Carter's foreign policy.

"No government can at the same time protect the nation's security and tell its people the truth. All governments seek to bridge the gap to one degree or another, but never succeed completely. The width of the resulting gap between truth and security denotes a government's credibility, or lack of it." Richard C. Thornton

Although Jimmy Carter came to office fully prepared to carry forward the general strategy of a new global order initiated by Henry Kissinger in 1973, his administration immediately encountered a Soviet Union embarked upon a multi-pronged geopolitical offensive, backed by a major advance in strategic weaponry, which threatened to undermine America's global position. Recognition of the Soviet offensive forced a reconsideration of American strategy, splitting the new administration.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance insisted that the strategy of a new global order, whose prerequisite was detente with the Soviet Union, remained viable. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, on the other hand, argued that a temporary return to some modified form of containment was necessary. President Carter, caught between the diametrically conflicting advice of his principal advisers, vacillated-at times supporting the views of one adviser, then the other. Even though Secretary Vance generally prevailed, the result was that indecision and vacillation marked the foreign policy of the Carter years.

Written by a leading expert in the field of history and international affairs, readers will gain a deeper appreciation for the forces at work during the Carter years and how decisions made during that time influenced US history.