Share this

The Pathologies of Power: Fear, Honor, Glory, and Hubris in U.S. Foreign Policy, Christopher J. Fettweis

Reviewed by Graham Dodds



Books about improving U.S. foreign policy are a dime a dozen. But in The Pathologies of Power, Christopher Fettweis offers an unusual take on what he sees as the subpar foreign policy performance of the planet’s sole super­power. Fettweis claims that U.S. foreign policy is driven by four pathological beliefs—fear, honor, glory, and hubris—that lead to poor policymaking. The book devotes a chapter to each of the beliefs that Fettweis contends account for foreign policy disasters like the Iraq war and the Vietnam war.

Foremost among the pathological beliefs is fear, which is behind the views that the world is full of enemies and that we are living in dangerous times. According to Fettweis, America’s paranoia about communism led to costly U.S. involvement in various “geopolitically irrelevant backwaters” (p. 14) during the Cold War. The (neo)conservative view of ever-present danger is unfounded today. The empirical reality is that “there has never been a more peaceful, less violent period of time than the post-Cold War era” (p. 33).

The second belief is honor, and while it seems archaic, Fettweis says its more-cont

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

North Korea and the West

The Debate over North Korea


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS