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Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of Global Ambition
Synopses & Reviews
In Sands of Empire, veteran political journalist and award-winning author Robert W. Merry examines the misguided concepts that have fueled American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. The emergence in the George W. Bush administration of America as Crusader State, bent on remaking the world in its preferred image, is dangerous and self-defeating, he points out. Moreover, these grand-scale flights of interventionism, regime change, and the use of pre-emptive armed force are without precedent in American history.
Merry offers a spirited description of a powerful political core whose ideas have replaced conservative reservations about utopian visions — these neocons who "embrace a brave new world in which American exceptionalism holds sway," imagining that others around the globe can be made to abandon their cultures in favor of our ideals. He traces the strains of Wilsonism that have now merged into an adventurous and hazardous foreign policy, particularly as described by William Kristol, Francis Fukuyama, Max Boot, and Paul Wolfowitz, among others. He examines the challenge of Samuel Huntington's supposition that the clash of civilizations defines present and future world conflict. And he rejects the notion of The New York Times's Thomas L. Friedman that America is not only the world's role model for globally integrated free-market capitalism, but that it has a responsibility to foster, support, and sustain globalization worldwide.
From the first president Bush to Clinton to the second Bush presidency, the United States has compromised its global leadership, endangered its security, and failed to meet the standard of justified intervention, Merry suggests. The country must reset its global strategies to protect its interests and the West's, to maintain stability in strategic areas, and to fight radical threats, with arms if necessary. For anything less than these necessities, American blood should remain in American veins.
"The president and publisher of Congressional Quarterly leads readers through two major tunnels of U.S. foreign policy, which he calls 'the Idea of Progress' (aka 'the End of History') and the 'Cyclical View of History.' 'Progress' purports that Western liberal democracy is the best and final form of government. 'Cyclic,' on the other hand, emphasizes the importance of each individual civilization's culture combined with the innate irrationality of human nature, and says, la Spengler, Toynbee and (more recently) Samuel P. Huntington, that any drive to impose one civilization's values upon another is likely to end in disaster. Elucidations of the latter philosophy, with which Merry sympathizes, are among the book's most passionate passages. Merry argues that the cyclical view is often and unwisely overlooked, while the persistent (and, he says, false) idea of progress continues to be widely regarded. He explains how progress disastrously guided the Bush administration's planning and forays in Iraq, and just as easily provided the rationale for failed U.S. humanitarian incursions in Somalia and the Balkans. Merry's succinct, provocative analysis of U.S. responses to world events isn't groundbreaking, but it is well articulated and deeply felt. Agent, Flip Brophy. (June 8)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This title takes aim at the prevailing notion that Western civilization and American democracy are universal and can be dictated to the entire world. The author argues that America must accept the reality of fundamental cultural differences in the world and concentrate instead on its vital interests.
About the Author
Robert W. Merry is president and publisher of Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Formerly a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he covered national politics, Congress, and the White House, he is the author of the award-winning Taking On the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop — Guardians of the American Century. He lives in McLean, Virginia.
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