To the Editors:
A book reviewer has every right to opine critically about a book, and hence I do not complain about William Pfaff’s review of my recent book, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership [NYR, April 8]. Moreover, since he generously quoted my views, the readers of his review can themselves decide whether they agree with me or whether Pfaff’s case for a global disengagement of US power makes more sense.
The matter is altogether different, however, when it comes to misstatements of fact. Pfaff, in an effort to damage my credibility, claims that I wrote in an earlier book, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, “that the Soviet Union and the United States were evolving along convergent lines toward a new form of ‘technetronic’ superstate in which their science and advanced industry would leave everyone behind, including Western Europe and Japan.”
This is flat wrong. In fact, the thesis of that book was that the United States was plunging headlong into a new postindustrial (technetronic) age, while the Soviet Union remained bogged down in the mid-industrial phase, largely “because of the doctrinal incapacity of the Soviet political system to respond to the internal needs of social innovation.” That led me to expect “far-reaching political instability in the Soviet Union and in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe.” Opinions based on misconstruction also speak for themselves.
April 29, 2004