Responses: J. Bryan Hehir

Responses: J. Bryan Hehir

Stanley Hoffmann’s description of the world confronting U.S. policymakers is characteristically complex in its analysis and clear in its definition of policy choices. Moreover, Hoffmann’s work over many years provides a basic approach to the making of foreign policy. He has always given priority to an analysis of the dynamics and structure of the international system in the shaping of U.S. choices.

Hoffmann’s method is particularly useful in an assessment of U.S. policy options in the 1990s because of the profound transformation that has occurred in international politics. The depth and nature of that transformation as well as its likely consequences are topics that divide both analysts and diplomats, inside and outside the policy-making process.

The dominant description of the change is the transition from the cold war order of politics to the post–cold war world. This in fact is only one dimension of a more complex process at work in international politics in the 1990s. The collapse of the cold war amounts to a change in the structure of power in world affairs. A second dimension of change, distinct from the first but intensified by it, involves the principles of order by which international relations have been understood and governed for three centuries.