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The recent attacks on Robert Buzzanco are unwarranted. L. Serewicz accuses him of being deliberately misleading and/or giving a false impression of the evidence in his recent Bernath lecture. He does so via reference to C. Tudda's comments to that effect. Specifically, L. Serewicz writes of the lecture that the "material cited did not reflect what the author suggests that it does." Similiarly, M.Safranski attacks Buzzanco when he writes, leaving no doubt that he is referring to Buzzanco's lecture: >The frequency with which Mr. Serewicz detects omission of critical sources and >shaded meanings after consulting the archives is a sign that the overt >politicization of the historical profession and the malign influence of >postmodernist philosophy may be taking its toll. After all, if an >author's footnotes proved inaccurate due to random sloppiness or >incompetence then the net effect of the errors would not consistently skew >into a political direction congenial to the writer's thesis. These are serious accusations that cannot be taken lightly. These gentlemen are accusing R. Buzzanco of falsifying evidence to make a political statement, or worse, to purposely deceive students. They are also totally ungrounded. First, historians have the responsibility of assessing the evidence to the best of their ability and to interpret that evidence as they see it. There is no responsibility on the historian to adhere to a specific interpretation. The footnoting process is there so that, yes, the evidence can be checked. It's a good system and I can think of no better. Had Buzzanco not footnoted then he could be accused, perhaps justifiably, of attempting to do what L. Serewicz and M. Safranski allege. Second, to suggest that Buzzanco was purposely trying to mislead in the quotes he offered from George Kennan, which L. Serewicz directed his attention to, is ludicrous. Evidence is read by different people in different ways. Here is how L. Serewicz explains his take on this particular section of Buzzanco's lecture. > On p. 591 in "Diplomatic History" Mr. Buzzanco makes the following > statement to support his argument that the United States was pursuing > hegemony abroad and suppressing any threats to that hegemony at home. > > "George Frost Kennan admitted in 1948 that "we have 50 percent of the > world's wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population... Our real task in > the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships that will allow > us to maintain the position of disparity." > > He cites FRUS 1948 for the quotation. Suggesting that R. Buzzanco deliberately left out portions in an attempt to mislead, L. Serewicz provides the full citation: > "Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its > population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and > the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object > of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a > pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of > disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, > we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our > attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate > national objectives. (FRUS 1948 Vol. 1. p.524)" In the first instance, I do not see how the full quotation, as opposed to the edited one provided by R. Buzzanco, in anyway points to flaws in the interpretation provided by R. Buzzanco. The primary point of Kennan's remarks are that the US "devise a pattern of relationships *which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity* without positive detriment to our national security" (emphasis added). The object, then, is to maintain the disparity in wealth, which, in turn, will necessitate taking measures to ensure national security. If others think differently, so be it, but to accuse R. Buzzanco of being deceptive because he interpreted it differently or felt it unneccessary to quote the entire quote is unjustified. L. Serewicz's take on what Kennan meant is as follows. > In other words, Mr. Kennan was arguing that the United States power will > eventually diminish, as it has, and that if it wants to maintain that > security, it must not waste its limited and diminishing power on > altruistic goals. Really? Just where does he say that "[US] power will eventually diminish"? L. Serewicz continues: > Note Mr. Kennan is not suggesting a position of hegemony or empire, but security. Then why does he use the phrase "world's wealth"? And, anyway, isn't hegemony one way to ensure security? Who is misreading the evidence here? Continuing, L. Serewicz writes: >The word disparity [used by Kennan] simply means that the United States >has to be stronger than anyone who might threaten it or its interests. I wouldn't disagree, nor, do I think, would R. Buzzanco. The problem for L. Serewicz is that he has a different interpretation of what US "interests" are. But that is an issue of interpretation, not dishonesty. I would read Kennan this way: we (the US) need to maintain our disparity in wealth, that is going to anger a lot of people, so we better make ourselves strong enough to resist those who might be tempted to alter the disparity (in *wealth*). But, that is not the main point. L. Serewicz claims his interpretation is right, R. Buzzanco's is wrong, and therefore claims R. Buzzanco has purposely set out to mislead. This attack on R. Buzzanco's credibility is without foundation and I think it should not go unanswered. Finally, I must ask, where were L. Serewicz and M. Safranski when Gaddis's _We Now Know_ came out? I especially direct these comments at M. Safranski, who wrote of historians who employ "the subtle bias of omitted context or calculated distortion to advance a dearly held political cause." I do not have a copy before me, but if memory serves _We Now Know_ *ignores* so much evidence, wholesale ignores topics, and provides so little context that it practically amounts to intellectual fraud. I, however, do not accuse Gaddis of such a thing. He is free to write history as he sees it. All I ask is that he footnote so I can check his sources, if I have problems with his interpretation. I can, then, argue against his interpretation. I can show where I think it is wrong and he could debate me, if he was so inclined. That is what scholarship is all about. Apparently Robert Buzzanco's critics do not agree. Curt Cardwell