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Title: The Perils of Perfectionism: American Reaction to the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals
Authors: Johnstone, Andrew
First Published: 31-Jul-2018
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Citation: Journal of Contemporary History, 2018
Abstract: In the debate that followed the release of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals in 1944, the US government vigorously promoted the idea of international organization, partly due to fears of a resurgent isolationism. Yet as the debate progressed, it became clear that isolationism was not the main enemy, and concerns that the USA would not engage at all with the UN proved unfounded. Instead, the most active critics of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals were not those who wished to ignore the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, but those who wanted to perfect them. Calls for a more perfect international union came from across the political spectrum and for different reasons. Ultimately, the Roosevelt administration recognized that perfectionism was an issue that threatened the peace process. Fearing a repeat of the rejection of the League of Nations, the Roosevelt administration worked tirelessly to share the message of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals to the American people. But that message was mostly a cautious one, highlighting that while the proposed UN was not perfect, it was the best option for peace.
DOI Link: 10.1177/0022009418771755
ISSN: 0022-0094
eISSN: 1461-7250
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2018, SAGE Publications. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. (
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Politics and International Relations

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