Stephen Sestanovich knows a thing or two about foreign policy. The career diplomat worked for the State Department during the Reagan administration and served as ambassador-at-large to the Soviet Union under Clinton.
In his new book, “Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama,” Sestanovich examines America’s foreign policy and military engagements under twelve Presidents—from post-World War II to today. He gives particulary, anecdote-rich focus to the eras of the Johnson and Nixon administrations.
Sestanovich’s book identifies two different approaches to diplomacy: maximalism and retrenchment. The maximalists are those looking to put America’s stamp on the world and launch countermeasures against potential threats. The retrenchers are those inclined to shift responsibilities to allies, negotiate, reduce foreign involvement and military spending—and focus on domestic issues.
In what ways has the United States’ role on the world stage changed since World War II? How do individual presidents impact the country’s foreign policy—and how the world perceives America?
Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; former U.S. ambassador-at-large for independent states of the former Soviet Union (1997-2001); author of ‘Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama’ (Knopf 2014)