Allen, David. Every Citizen a Statesman: The Dream of a Democratic Foreign Policy in the American Century.

Date01 September 2023
AuthorHoff, Samuel B.

Allen, David. Every Citizen a Statesman: The Dream of a Democratic Foreign Policy in the American Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2023. 333 pages. Hardcover, $45.00.

This book grapples with the question of how to conduct foreign policy in a democracy. It describes the post-World War I mass effort to secure approval of American entry into the League of Nations and the ensuing movement for citizen education in world affairs. The book highlights the Foreign Policy Association (FPA)'s founding, development, and decline.

Author David Allen earned his Ph.D. in history from Columbia in 2021. He has held fellowships and teaching appointments at Yale University, Gettysburg College, and Harvard University. His academic articles have appeared in International History Review, Historical Journal, and Journal of Cold War Studies among other publications.

Organizationally, the book contains seven chapters bordered by an Introduction and an Epilogue. Allen warns the reader at the outset that the "story of the Foreign Policy Association is a study of failure..." (p. 6).

Chapter 1 notes that the goal of having the United States become a member of the League of Nations following World War I was promoted by groups previously associated with women's suffrage. Despite America's refusal to join the League, the pursuit of an educated, active citizenry ready to contribute to foreign affairs blossomed with the establishment of the Foreign Policy Association in 1919 and other adult education organizations later. Chapter 2 traces the Foreign Policy Association's activities through the late 1930s. Among the group's achievements were domestic and international alliances, funding from groups like the Rockefeller Foundation, publication of anti-Nazi pamphlets, and effective utilization of radio.

Several circumstances significantly altered the FPA's trajectory after that, as discussed by the author in Chapters 3 and 5. One was Germany's 1939 invasion of Poland, setting off World War II. Another was the national security state which the post-World War II ushered in. Further, the U.S. State Department--which previously relied on outside groups to assess public opinion--created its own office to do so. During the Cold War period, FPA members were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In this atmosphere of conservative ascendency, the FPA's basic mission was attacked as subversive. The consequences crippled the FPA, according to the author.


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