Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Foreign policy

"The essence of good foreign policy is constant re-examination." - David Halberstam

"For the mass public, it is easier to understand problems if they are reduced to black/white dichotomies. It is easier to understand policies if they are attached to individuals who are simplistically labeled as hawks or doves. Yet in today’s world any attempt to reduce its complexities to a single set of ideological propositions, to a single personality, or to a single issue is in itself a distortion. Such a distortion also raises the danger that public emotions could become so strong as to make the management of a genuinely complex foreign policy well-nigh impossible." -

"Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"All too often… intelligence estimates tell us more about interests and foreign policy preferences of powerful groups in government than it does about the other side’s intentions and capabilities are." - Robert Jervis

"Domestic policy can only lose elections. Foreign policy can kill us all." -

"International incidents must not be allowed to shape foreign policy; foreign policy must shape the incidents." -

"Without a central administrative focus, foreign policy turns into a series of unrelated decisions – crisis-oriented, ad hoc and after-the-fact in nature. We become prisoners of events." - Nelson Rockefeller, fully Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller

"Bringing democratic control to the conduct of foreign policy requires a struggle merely to force the issue onto the public agenda." - Eric Alterman

"Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the third world, because the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries" - Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

"I think that it's always appropriate for Americans and for American foreign policy to make clear why we feel that self-government is most compatible with peace, the well-being of people, and human dignity." - Jeane Kirkpatrick

"Had drugs been decriminalized, crack would never have been invented and there would today be fewer addicts... The ghettos would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man's lands... Colombia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of it." - Milton Friedman, fully John Milton Friedman

"International incidents must not be allowed to shape foreign policy; foreign policy must shape the incidents." - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"Our investigations have always contributed more to our amusement than they have to knowledge." - Will Rogers, fully William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers

"The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed." - Thomas L. Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman

"A book that furnishes no quotations is no book — it is a plaything." - Thomas Love Peacock