Three Crises in American Foreign Affairs & a Continuing Revolution by Howard Trivers
A distinguished former Foreign Service Officer looks at four key issues in recent American foreign policy, offers personal insights, and adds new, never-before-made-public, information to the record. The issues are the Berlin Wall, the Cuba Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the impact of science on foreign policy.
On the Berlin Wall
“I am convinced that one of the many factors which made possible or led to the U.S.-Soviet confrontation in the Cuba missile crisis was the weak reaction of the U.S. government at the time of the Berlin Wall. Khrushchev misread the weak reaction to mean an endemic weakness.”
On the Cuba Missile Crisis
“In the Cuba missile crisis, both the American and the Soviet estimators were wrong: the Americans were wrong in their estimate of the likelihood of the Soviets introducing offensive missiles into Cuba; the Soviets were wrong in their estimate of the likely American response to such action.”
On the Vietnam War
“American political and military leaders seem to have been caught in a web of abstractions spun by themselves. The folly of Vietnam has been the most complete triumph of ‘specious abstraction’ in the history of our foreign affairs.”
The continuing revolution Dr. Trivers sees is in the future. The following is an excerpt from this chapter.
On Science, Technology, and Foreign Affairs
“The only chance for human survival lies in the development of international institutions strong and resilient enough to direct and control the import of technological development in the interest of all mankind. The United Nations is a weak reed in this direction, with a charter based on anachronistic premises.”
Howard Trivers served for 28 years in the State Department and as a Foreign Service Officer. He worked on the German and Japanese surrender terms and the U.S. Directive for the Occupation of Germany. He spent the 195762 years in Berlin, as Chief, Eastern Affairs section and, from 1960 to 1962, as political adviser, thus being directly involved in the Berlin Wall crisis.
In 1962 he returned to Washington, where as head of the State Department’s intelligence research on Soviet Policy, he was vitally concerned with the Cuba missile crisis.