The Public Interest

Purpose and planning in foreign policy

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Winter 1969

THE purpose of planning policy is to fuse thought with action. The more trivial the issue and the more specific the proposed action, the easier the fusion. Combining deliberate action with sustained forethought is accordingly especially difficult for a policy operating on a global scale. World affairs are not easily reducible to a few concepts; in their turn, sweeping and frequently banal generalities do not provide helpful guides to specific actions. Global involvement requires reacting quickly to a myriad of diverse situations, each seemingly—and often in fact—unique. The all-too-frequent result is not policy, but an illusion of policy: well-polished cliches mask belated reactions to dynamic and novel events.

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