militarist in the face of Soviet and communistnaggression, shares Lippmann’snnaive enthusiasm for “Wilson’s war.”nThe German and Austrian Kaisers inn1914 were, after all, less peacelovingnthan Stalin in 1945—or such is the impressionnhis book seeks to give. Nor doesnSteel bother to criticize Lippmann’s petitioningnthe Secretary of War for a draftnexemption soon after other Americansnhad begun to bleed and die in a strugglenwhich Lippmann had fervently endorsed.nWe are simply told that he believednhe might better serve his countrynin a civilian capacity. So much for draftdodgingnwhen committed by a secularnsaint!nKenneth Lynn, in a penetrating studynof this biography for Comrnentary, describesnSteel as an unchanging “historiannof the sixties.” Viewing the Americannmilitary-industrial complex as thensource of most evils in international affairs,nSteel considers the war in Vietnamnthe ultimate expression of our predatoryneconomy and exploitative government.nAccording to Lynn, the prevalence ofnthis ideological focus affects Steel’snscholarship. It prevents him from showingninterest in serious biographical questionsnwhich a more curious historiannwould no doubt have addressed, e.g.nLippmann’s utter callousness in the 30’sntoward the victims of Hitler’s persecution,nhis seduction of (and later marriagento) his closest friend’s wife and his initialnindifference toward nazi tyranny asncontrasted with his earlier passionatenhostility toward Imperial Germany. Althoughnit may well be impossible to explainnfully such apparent failings andninconsistencies. Steel hardly comes tongrips with any of them. To him most ofnthe details and intricacies of Lippmann’snlife are only so many hurdles to get overnon his way to condemning the Cold Warnand to honoring Lippmann as an antianticommunist.nSuch praise turns ultimately into selfpraise,nfor although advanced in hisngrasp of reality, Lippmann is neverncredited with having as much wisdomnas his biographer. Although he oftennopposed the Cold War, he lacked “anphilosophical approach or ideologicalncommitment” and was “reluctant tonaccept the part that economic demandsnor imperial ambitions might play in explainingnforeign policy.” Despite the absencenof a pop Marxist perspective, Lippmannnallegedly stood above the obsessivenhysteria of the McCarthyite 50’s.nFor example, we are told:nWhile most of the country, includingnthe foreign policy establishment, wasnbehaving as though the Red Armynwas about to gobble up all of Europenalong with half of Asia and Africa,nand the Cominform was going tonwend its insidious way into the mindsnand hearts of innocent American children,nLippmann preached restraintnand a calculated assessment of nationalninterest.n^ince so much of Steel’s book isntaken up with ranting against anticommunistninfidels, it might be worthwhilento speculate on his justification for thenendless sermon. His book contains noncoherent statement of a Marxist worldview,nyet it does suggest his consistentnbelief that American foreign policy isnshaped by our economic system. Thisneconomic system, we are led to infer,nis advanced capitalism that is alreadyndomestically at the crisis stage and whichncan be maintained only through imperialistnadventure abroad. In view of thisnreality, it is no more productive to chidena capitalist government for being imper­nnnialist than to reproach a leopard for beingncarnivorous. And yet the rigors ofnan authentic Marxist—or Marxist-Leninist—analysisnare really too much forna New Leftist windbag like Steel tonaccept and, after showing off his Marxistnterminology, he lectures capitalistsnon what he, as a Marxist, must believenare their inescapable vices. Perhaps thisnis the most bothersome aspect of Steel’snbook, which typifies an emerging genrenof New Left reconstructions of the past.nAssuming that one could overlook thenturgid prose, repetitive sermons and factualndisfigurements, the product is stillnincoherent—even for a Marxist interpretationnof reality. Why should Steelnbe praising Lippmann for properly graspingnAmerica’s “national interest”.^nAn advanced capitalist state’s objectiveninterest is supposedly to suppressnrevolution and to war against weakernstates. From a Marxist point of view itnwas the State Department, not Lippmann,nwhich “made the calculated assessmentnof national interest.” ThenAmerican government, as an instrumentnof a bourgeois society locked intona capitalist mode of production, couldnonly respond to predetermined socialnand material imperatives. To overthrownsuch a government is historically necessary,nbut what rationale can a self-proclaimednMarxist find for preaching hellfirenand brimstone to capitalist democraciesnfor behaving as they should.”nLike so much of today’s New Leftnhistory. Steel’s biography combinesnineptitude and mendacity with ignoranceneven of the ideological position innwhich it claims to be anchored. Anmuddled Marxist and a tasteless hagiographer,nhe participates in modernnradicalism’s continuing assault on thenhistorian’s craft. Despite his many shortcomingsnWalter Lippmann was a giftednjournalist and an occasionally perceptivenpolitical analyst. His life and career deservena better biography than the onenSteel has written. Perhaps such a worknmay yet be produced once the 60’s arentruly behind us. Dn^mmmmmmm^^nJanuary/February 1981n