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Why America misunderstands the world : national experience and roots of misperception / Paul R. Pillar.

By: Pillar, Paul R, 1947- [author.].
Material type: TextTextSeries: JSTOR eBooks.Publisher: New York : Columbia University Press, [2016]Description: 1 online resource (x, 212 pages).Content type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780231540353; 0231540353.Subject(s): National characteristics, American | Public opinion -- United StatesAdditional physical formats: Print version:: Why America misunderstands the worldDDC classification: 327.73 Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
1. The American Prism -- 2. Behind the Ocean Moats -- 3. Abundance and Power -- 4. The Successful Society -- 5. Searching for Monsters to Destroy -- 6. Unending Misperception.
Summary: "Being insulated by two immense oceans makes it hard for Americans to appreciate the concerns of more exposed countries. American democracy's rapid rise also fools many into thinking the same liberal system can flourish anywhere, and having populated a vast continent with relative ease impedes Americans' understanding of conflicts between different peoples over other lands. Paul R. Pillar ties the American public's misconceptions about foreign threats and behaviors to the nation's history and geography, arguing that American success in international relations is achieved often in spite of, rather than because of, the public's worldview. Drawing a fascinating line from colonial events to America's handling of modern international terrorism, Pillar shows how presumption and misperception turned Finlandization into a dirty word in American policy circles, bolstered the "for us or against us" attitude that characterized the policies of the George W. Bush administration, and continue to obscure the reasons behind Iraq's close relationship with Iran. Fundamental misunderstandings have created a cycle in which threats are underestimated before an attack occurs and then are overestimated after they happen. By exposing this longstanding tradition of misperception, Pillar hopes the United States can develop policies that better address international realities rather than biased beliefs." -- Publisher's description.
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Electronic Book UT Tyler Online
Online
JZ1480 .P55 2016 (Browse shelf) https://ezproxy.uttyler.edu/login?url=http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/pill16590 Available ocn944952691

Includes bibliographical references (pages 179-201) and index.

Print version record.

1. The American Prism -- 2. Behind the Ocean Moats -- 3. Abundance and Power -- 4. The Successful Society -- 5. Searching for Monsters to Destroy -- 6. Unending Misperception.

"Being insulated by two immense oceans makes it hard for Americans to appreciate the concerns of more exposed countries. American democracy's rapid rise also fools many into thinking the same liberal system can flourish anywhere, and having populated a vast continent with relative ease impedes Americans' understanding of conflicts between different peoples over other lands. Paul R. Pillar ties the American public's misconceptions about foreign threats and behaviors to the nation's history and geography, arguing that American success in international relations is achieved often in spite of, rather than because of, the public's worldview. Drawing a fascinating line from colonial events to America's handling of modern international terrorism, Pillar shows how presumption and misperception turned Finlandization into a dirty word in American policy circles, bolstered the "for us or against us" attitude that characterized the policies of the George W. Bush administration, and continue to obscure the reasons behind Iraq's close relationship with Iran. Fundamental misunderstandings have created a cycle in which threats are underestimated before an attack occurs and then are overestimated after they happen. By exposing this longstanding tradition of misperception, Pillar hopes the United States can develop policies that better address international realities rather than biased beliefs." -- Publisher's description.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Former intelligence officer Pillar (nonresident senior fellow, Ctr. for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, Foreign Policy program, Brookings Institution; Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy) discusses the unique exceptionalism that America possesses regarding its position on the political world stage. Owing to certain advantages that come more from circumstance than morality, such as being geographically isolated and therefore protected from other nations, as well as having a large, fertile country within which to grow, Americans have come to believe that more than these natural advantages have helped to create the attitude that the United States is particularly entitled to having its way economically and politically. Pillar's argument is that the lens through which America sees itself is now that of a well meaning and somewhat superior entity and that this mind-set adversely impacts how international relations play out between us and the rest of the world. VERDICT -Recommended for the general reader who has an interest in international relations, particularly in regard to how the United States may, in fact, be perceived by other countries.-Krista Bush, Shelton, CT © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

CHOICE Review

This is a richly persuasive and powerfully written examination of American popular attitudes toward the collective national self and how it affects the country's foreign policies. Pillar, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, examines American political culture against its heritage separated from Europe and with a strong moralistic tinge. The uniqueness of the country's development has created a belief of "exceptionalism" and the acceptance of self-worth at the expense of the value of all other foreigners. As is well established, perception is reality, and what distortions are in place reflect the strength of beliefs that have been in place for long periods. The author artfully describes how Americans fail to appreciate the positions of other states from their individual perspective, demonizing those positions developed by other states although for purposes advancing their individualized interests. Why America Misunderstands the World is a work that should be an essential, basic read for any interested observer of American foreign policy and an introduction to international relations. Clearly an important contribution to the literature on world politics. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. --Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba College

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Paul R. Pillar is a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of Georgetown University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He served in several senior positions with the CIA and the National Intelligence Council and is a retired army reserve officer. He is the author of Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform ; Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy ; and Negotiating Peace: War Termination as a Bargaining Process .

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