The bifurcation of American and non-American perspectives in foreign policy analysis is a large topic to which justice cannot be done in limited space. To reduce the subject to somewhat more manageable scope, the focus here is on teaching and. more specifically, on undergraduate courses on American foreign policy. After examining some evidence that might shed light on the question, this essay will suggest some reasons, both within and outside the discipline, for this development, as well as some possible ways of avoiding undue parochialism by ensuring that non-American perspectives get some hearing.
This is not the place to undertake extensive content analyses of foreign policy texts, but even a cursory glance at several recent, widely used volumes indicates that many students are exposed almost wholly to American perspectives. Materials cited in footnotes and as suggested readings are overwhelmingly written by American authors. That pattern also extends to three of the best recent collections of readings on American foreign policy. The first includes 32 essays, not one of which is by a non-American, all nine chapters in the second are by Americans, and only one of 12 essays in the third is co-authored by a foreign scholar. In fairness, it should be pointed out that these materials hardly present a homogeneous viewpoint on the sources, conduct, and consequences of American diplomacy; a collection of readings that includes essays by George Kennan, Carl Gershman, Henry Kissinger, and Stanley Hoffmann can hardly be accused of presenting a single outlook. Moreover, the diversity of choices among available texts provides a broad range of perspectives, from moderately hard-line to distinctly revisionist.