quiturs and paradoxes, produced a bodynof writing structured on strong convictions,nbut he also wrote for fiin as well asnto make a point in an unexpected way.nThe moving force behind WiUs’s writingnseems to be an insatiable quest for personalnstatus, which gives his work ansmart-alecky tone that is totally lackingnin Chesterton. Another possibility is thatnWills, as a Catholic, is offended by thenfact that John Kennedy was a patentlynbad Catholic. There is a final reason,nhowever. Wills’ s savaging of JFK takes itsnplace with other recent books on Americannpresidents, particularly RonnienDuggar’s on Lyndon Johnson and SeymournHersh’s forthcoming tome onnRichard Nixon. These books have twonthings in common: first, to a degreennearly unprecedented in serious politicalnanalysis, they relate the most sordidndetails of their subjects’ personal lives;nsecond, in each case the author is fiercelynopposed to American foreign policy as itnhas been conducted since 1945. Butnnone offers a realistic alternative. Eachnsees our foreign policy as anticommunist,nimperialistic, dirty, immoral. While theynsay this at some length, what can they offernas an alternative to a policy of anticommunism?nAfter all, there is no denyingnthe aggressive nature of Sovietnforeign policy, nor the kind of semidarknessnthat constitutes life under a communistnregime. So writers like Hersh,nDuggar, and Wills are reduced tontrading in tittle-tattle on the order of thenMidnight Star and the old Confidentialnmagazine. Nixon tipsy at a Florida nightclub,nLBJ afraid that college would sissifynhim, Rose Kennedy gamely hiding hernknowledge of Joe Senior’s infidelities:nthese are the details that make up thennarratives of our new class of historians.nWills can scarcely bring himself to stopndetailing the sexual escapades of thenKennedys; he even notes one aboutnPrime Minister Asquith of England becausenAsquith was of a class of men—thenEnglish ruling class—that JFK admired.nA he themes of Kennedy sex/family/nimage/charisma all merge one into an­n12nChronicles of Cultorenother and lead inevitably into the lastntheme of Kennedy power—Americannforeign policy, in Wills’s view. For himnthey are all the same, and the only reasonnhe can see for JFK’s anticommunism isnthat he had to uphold the Kennedy imagenof cool daring and macho exploitationnby going mano a mano with FidelnCastro and Nikita Khrushchev. He reducesnthe motives for JFK’s foreignnpolicy to the personal need of Kennedynand other members of his administrationnto fulfill some dirty psychological necessity.nThe John Kennedy whom Wills describesnis a man trying to establish hisnmanhood by playing around withnwomen and by pushing around the Russians.nSuch a correlation not only smacksnof puny post-Freudian platitudes, but asna method of analysis it also obscures thenmain motives of American foreign policynsince 1945 and leads Wills into contortionsnof interpretation. As proof of Kennedy’sneagerness to humiliate the Russians,nfor instance, he cites the fact thatnwe refused to dismantle our missile basesnin Turkey but insisted that Khrushchevnremove Russian missiles from Cuba.nWhy should we have missiles in Turkeynwhen they cannot have theirs in Cuba,nWills wants to know. Missing fromnnnWills’s discussion of the Cuban crisis isnany sense that the Soviet Union hasntrampled into naught every previousntreaty and agreement, that America isnmorally right in resisting communist expansionnbecause communism is an evilnand totalitarian system. Wills apparentlynsees that notion as proof of America’snbilious pride.nThere is a particular conception ofnpower, its morality, and America’s use ofnit behind Wills’s attack on the Kennedynfamily; indeed, the book is subtitled AnMeditation on Power. It is worth examiningnthis conception because it has recentlynbecome a powerful influence in debatenand discussion about American foreignnpolicy. It is not all that new, however, fornthe late Jesuit scholar John CourtneynMurray described it in We Hold ThesenTruths over 20 years ago:nMost Americans seem to have finallynawakened to the central relationshipnbetween foreign policy and force. Butnthe awakening was to a state of moralnbafflement and anxiety, insofar as itntook place in the climate or moralnopinion … [in which] a cold breathnof evil more than faintly emanatesnfrom the very words ‘power’ andn’force.’ It seems to have been a part ofnthe American dream that this nationncould go through history with cleannhands by the simple Kantian expedientndescribed in Peguy’s genialnphrase: ‘Kantianism has clean hands,nbecause it has no hands.’ Concretely,na nation’s ‘hands,’ wherewith itnshapes the stuff of history, are its instrumentsnof power—military, economic,nand diplomatic power, togethernwith the power of sheernpresence and prestige. We have nevernwanted to have such hands. . . . Nownwe have become suddenly consciousnof our hands—that they are sinewynbeyond comparison, that they arensunk in the affairs of the world; thatnthey are getting dirty beyond thenwrists.nGiven this attitude it becomes impossiblento detect any moral difference betweennour foreign policy aims and thosenof the Russians. An anticommunist for-n