Diplomat and "wise man" George Ball wielded enormous influence in American foreign policy for more than forty years. Best known for his dissent from U.S. Vietnam policy when he was under secretary of state during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, he also helped those administrations formulate policy concerning the European Community, the Congo, the Cuban missile crisis, and Cyprus. His last formal appointment was in 1968 as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, but he continued to advise and unofficially assist presidents and members of the American political elite for another twenty-five years, often taking contrary and critical positions on the major issues of the day. In this book James Bill offers fascinating new insights into the inner workings of foreign policy by examining Ball's career and the political problems with which he grappled. Drawing on Ball's personal archive as well as extensive interviews with Ball and with dozens of his associates, Bill traces Ball's involvement with foreign policy. He begins in the 1940s, when Ball was a close associate of Jean Monnet, chief architect of the European Community, and ends with Ball's death in 1994.
He also chronicles Ball's forty-year involvement as a founding member of the Bilderberg group, an international clique of powerful European and American leaders. The book stresses a seldom-recognized dimension of the U.S. foreign policymaking process: the importance of the second tier of officialdom, the level just below that of cabinet secretary. And it provides a thoughtful comparison of the realpolitik model of statesmanship practiced by Henry Kissinger and the phronesis practiced by Ball, who was a prudent statesman guided by practical wisdom within a moral framework.
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(235mm x 156mm x 17mm)
Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
In an important contribution to Cold War scholarship, Bill (Government/Coll. of William and Mary) traces the foreign policy career of "wise man" George Ball from the 1940s until his death in 1994. Bill briefly outlines Ball's upbringing as the intellectually precocious son of a midwestern oil executive, his largely dysfunctional marriage and relationship with his two sons, and his role as counsel to the wartime Lend-Lease program and the US Strategic Bombing Survey, among other aspects of his long career. Avoiding the sweep of a full biography, however, the author focuses primarily on Ball's policy preoccupations and accomplishments: his concern with European political integration, his strong involvement in Democratic Party affairs (especially in his friend Adlai Stevenson's two presidential campaigns), and his service in the State Department under presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The author analyzes in detail Ball's role in several major foreign-policy case studies: European integration (he and friend Jean Monnet did more than anyone else to bring the European Community into being), US involvement in the Congo and Vietnam, and crises in Cuba, Cyprus, and the Middle East. Ball was often eerily prescient. He strongly favored British entry into the Common Market decades before it happened, advocated a tunnel between Britain and France before the "Chunnel" was on anyone's drawing board, and vigorously opposed US involvement in Vietnam as a disaster almost from its inception. Many criticized Ball, however, for remaining loyal to the administration during the deepening Vietnam crisis despite his strong feelings against the war; he resigned quietly in September 1966 and refrained from publicly criticizing Johnson for the escalating bombing campaign. After leaving the State Department, Ball continued to exert influence as a private citizen on such issues as the Middle East crisis. Bill concludes that because of his extraordinary prudence, characterized by pragmatic idealism, Ball was the quintessential American statesman, one whose career stands as a model for 21st-century statecraft. (Kirkus Reviews)
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