In an age when science and technology are becoming the popular yardsticks for measuring progress or prestige in international affairs, it is strange indeed that little literature relevant to the role of science in relation to foreign policy exists. That void is filled, and admirably so, by this book—a timely articulation of a relationship hitherto superficially accepted but usually denied in practice, because it is only vaguely understood.
Skolnikoff shows the breadth of the relationship and the character of the interaction between the scientific and other elements of major issues of foreign affairs. Most important, he shows how the uncertainties inherent in judgments about science and technology are affected by political factors, and reciprocally, how political factors depend on scientific and technological factors figure prominently, real integration of science and technology in the policy process is essential. In this respect, the existing mechanisms of the U.S. Government, particularly in the Department of State, are demonstrated to be wanting.
To make these and other points, such as the use of science and technology as new tools of policy, the book discusses in turn the major areas of policy—arms and arms control, space, atomic energy, bilateral relations, international organizations and the like—using a combined analytical and case study approach. The discussion develops the nature of the technical elements of policy issues and points out the requirements posed for the policy process. Modifications of existing methods for providing scientific inputs in foreign affairs are offered. In addition, the book offers for the first time a history of the science advisory mechanisms for foreign policy in the White House and Department of State. A final chapter demonstrates the meaning of continuing technological advances for some of the basic assumptions: for example, the changed significance of national freedom of action, the inviolability of national borders, the possibility of having to suppress or control technology, and the inevitable growth of decision making on an international scale.
Science, Technology, and American Foreign Policy is certain to hold the attention of scholar and policy maker alike, for it is the first book to treat this subject from a policy vantage point. This assures the best kind of generality, for it allows an over-all view of not one but the spectrum of scientific issues that are constantly meeting and interacting with the political demands posed by an effective international policy.