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Of Paradise and Power: America Vs. Europe in the New World Orderby Robert Kagan
Synopses & Reviews
From a leading scholar of our country?s foreign policy, the brilliant essay about America and the world that has caused a storm in international circles now expanded into book form.
European leaders, increasingly disturbed by U.S. policy and actions abroad, feel they are headed for what the New York Times (July 21, 2002) describes as a "moment of truth." After years of mutual resentment and tension, there is a sudden recognition that the real interests of America and its allies are diverging sharply and that the trans-atlantic relationship itself has changed, possibly irreversibly. Europe sees the United States as high-handed, unilateralist, and unnecessarily belligerent; the United States sees Europe as spent, unserious, and weak. The anger and mistrust on both sides are hardening into incomprehension.
This past summer, in Policy Review, Robert Kagan reached incisively into this impasse to force both sides to see themselves through the eyes of the other. Tracing the widely differing histories of Europe and America since the end of World War II, he makes clear how for one the need to escape a bloody past has led to a new set of transnational beliefs about power and threat, while the other has perforce evolved into the guarantor of that "postmodern paradise" by dint of its might and global reach.
This remarkable analysis is being discussed from Washington to Paris to Tokyo. It is esssential reading.
"Though he?s capable of concocting a memorable sound bite, Kagan develops his nuanced argument with an appreciation for why Europeans are not now lining up alongside us to give Saddam a good thrashing. Good reading for policy wonks who missed the original article, of a piece with recent arguments for the virtues of American imperialism." Kirkus Reviews
Book News Annotation:
"The task," pronounces neoconservative columnist Kagan in his apologia for empire, "for both Europeans and Americans, is to readjust to the new reality of American hegemony." Expanded from an article that appeared in Policy Review, this book-length essay examines the different perspectives Americans and Europeans have on international relations, arguing that European expectations of peace and a system of laws are only possible because of the naked use of American power. While serving as a guarantor of the European paradise, Kagan says, the United States cannot enter it, serving instead as a lonely guardian walking the walls of paradise. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
and#147;A world in which the leading liberal-democratic nation does not assume its role as world policeman will become a world in which dictatorships contend, or unite, to fill the breach. Americans seeking a return to an isolationist garden of Edenand#151;alone and undisturbed in the world, knowing neither good nor eviland#151;will soon find themselves living within shooting range of global pandemonium.and#8221;and#151;From the Introduction
In a brilliant book that will elevate foreign policy in the national conversation, Pulitzer Prizeand#150;winning columnist Bret Stephens makes a powerful case for American intervention abroad.
In December 2011 the last American soldier left Iraq. and#147;Weand#8217;re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,and#8221; boasted President Obama. He was proved devastatingly wrong less than three years later as jihadists seized the Iraqi city of Mosul. The event cast another dark shadow over the future of global orderand#151;a shadow, which, Bret Stephens argues, we ignore at our peril.
America in Retreat identifies a profound crisis on the global horizon. As Americans seek to withdraw from the world to tend to domestic problems, Americaand#8217;s adversaries spy opportunity. Vladimir Putinand#8217;s ambitions to restore the glory of the czarist empire go effectively unchecked, as do Chinaand#8217;s attempts to expand its maritime claims in the South China Sea, as do Iranand#8217;s efforts to develop nuclear capabilities. Civil war in Syria displaces millions throughout the Middle East while turbocharging the forces of radical Islam. Long-time allies such as Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, doubting the credibility of American security guarantees, are tempted to freelance their foreign policy, irrespective of U.S. interests.
Deploying his characteristic stylistic flair and intellectual prowess, Stephens argues for American reengagement abroad. He explains how military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan was the right course of action, foolishly executed. He traces the intellectual continuity between anti-interventionist statesmen such as Henry Wallace and Robert Taft in the late 1940s and Barack Obama and Rand Paul today. And he makes an unapologetic case for Pax Americana, and#147;a world in which English is the default language of business, diplomacy, tourism, and technology; in which markets are global, capital is mobile, and trade is increasingly free; in which values of openness and tolerance are, when not the norm, often the aspiration.and#8221;
In a terrifying chapter imagining the world of 2019, Stephens shows what could lie in store if Americans continue on their current course. Yet we are not doomed to this future. Stephens makes a passionate rejoinder to those who argue that America is in decline, a process that is often beyond the reach of political cures. Instead, we are in retreatand#151;the result of faulty, but reversible, policy choices. By embracing its historic responsibility as the worldand#8217;s policeman, America can safeguard not only greater peace in the world but also greater prosperity at home.
At once lively and sobering, America in Retreat offers trenchant analysis of the gravest threat to global order, from a rising star of political commentary.and#160;
At a time when relations between the United States and Europe are at their lowest ebb since World War II, this brief but cogent book is essential reading. Robert Kagan, a leading scholar of American foreign policy, forces both sides to see themselves through the eyes of the other. Europe, he argues, has moved beyond power into a self-contained world of laws, rules, and negotiation, while America operates in a “Hobbesian” world where rules and laws are unreliable and military force is often necessary.
Tracing how this state of affairs came into being over the past fifty years and fearlessly exploring its ramifications for the future, Kagan reveals the shape of the new transatlantic relationship. The result is a book that promises to be as enduringly influential as Samuel Huntingtons The Clash of Civilizations.
About the Author
Robert Kagan is senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he is director of the U.S. Leadership Project. In addition to a monthly column in the Washington Post, he is the author of A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990 and coeditor, with William Kristol, of Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy. Kagan served in the State Department from 1984 to 1988.
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