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Dangerous Nation: America's Foreign Policy from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century


Dangerous Nation: America's Foreign Policy from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century Cover

ISBN13: 9780375724916
ISBN10: 0375724915
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Most Americans believe the United States had been an isolationist power until the twentieth century. This is wrong. In a riveting and brilliantly revisionist work of history, Robert Kagan, bestselling author of Of Paradise and Power, shows how Americans have in fact steadily been increasing their global power and influence from the beginning. Driven by commercial, territorial, and idealistic ambitions, the United States has always perceived itself, and been seen by other nations, as an international force. This is a book of great importance to our understanding of our nations history and its role in the global community.


From the bestselling author of "Of Paradise and Power" comes a major reevaluation of Americas foreign policy from the colonial era to the turn of the 20th century.

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. 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 1984-1988. He lives in Brussels with his wife and two children.

Table of Contents


1. The First Imperialists

2. The Foreign Policy of Revolution

3. Liberalism and Expansion

4. To the Farewell Address and Beyond

5. “Peaceful Conquest”

6. A Republic in the Age of Monarchy

7. The Foreign Policy of Slavery

8. Manifest Destinies

9. Beyond the National Interest

10. War and Progress

11. From Power to Ambition, from Ambition to Power

12. Morality and Hegemony





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LRoosevelt, November 2, 2007 (view all comments by LRoosevelt)
You may remember Robert Kagan.

He was one of those neo-conservative armchair generals who squawked and clamored for a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, churning out hysterical columns that ominously warned us of the grave threat Saddam posed to America. He issued endless essays that cited 'evidence' of Saddam's acquisition of vaguely defined 'weapons of mass destruction.' He popped up on television and appeared on think tank panels, alerting us of a potential 'nuclear holocaust' while thundering on about the rushed need to topple the regime.

Well, it's nearly five years into the war, and the evidence is in: Kagan is a certifiable dunce.

A certifiable dunce who has now re-appeared with a book about his obvious expertise: American foreign policy. It is perhaps the very definition of irony when someone as discredited as Mr. Kagan produces a book which bills him as an expert on foreign policy. This is rather like George Bush producing a list of America's 100 greatest novels, Geraldo Rivera cracking open another underground mafia safe, or the notorious Red Sox choker Bill Buckner writing a book called "Clutch."

"Dangerous Nation" is tedious and, at five hundred and twenty seven pages, is perhaps five hundred and twenty seven pages too long. Kagan's thesis, which is cynical and dishonest (we'll get to that in a minute), is that the United States has always been a bullying, interventionalist nation. He strains considerably to string together far-reaching, tangential ideas and themes in order to support this notion, largely ignoring America's pre-Pearl Harbor isolationism during World War II, and making no mention of our abstention from myriad 20th century wars across Africa, Asia and Latin America. The totality of the omissions and half-facts are too numerous to catelogue here.


Because Mr. Kagan has a good deal to feel guilty about. Afterall, he was one of the primary intellectual architects of an unprecedented, catastrophic American pre-emptive invasion. This was, at least to some degree , Kagan's war. Think of it this way: If America were a soldier strapped with grenades and shouldering a rocket launcher, Kagan was the guy with his manicured hands on the soldier's back, pushing him onto the Iraqi battlefield and shouting 'fight,' before retreating to his air-conditioned office at the America Enterprise Institute. Kagan's war has left an awful lot of American blood in the Iraqi desert and destroyed America's reputation for at least the next twenty years.

So, what is a man to do with all that guilt?

Well, it appears he should write a book that cynically puts forth the idea that our little pre-emptive war was in fact nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that in the future should leap off the pages of history books as the insane foreign policy aberration that it was. You see, Kagan argues, America has always been this kind of country, always been knocking recklessly around the globe, looking for yet another sovereign nation to carpet bomb, another regime to change, another pre-emptive threat to diffuse. Mr. Kagan desperately wants the record to show that his quacky Iraq plans were not so quacky, that America's foreign policy has always been quacky and that, since our founding, we've steadfastly adhered to a kind of "Quacky Doctrine." He presents an America that permanently straddles a purring Patriot missile, its bloodthirsty Uncle Same head rotating on a nuclear swivel, scanning the globe for another country to wreck.

That, of course, is pure quackery.

This reader strictly adheres another doctrine -- coincidentally enough, something called the "Kagan Doctrine," which stipulates that if it smells and looks like bullshit, it is bullshit. It further dictates that when the bullshit has been detected, it is every American's patriotic duty to tap their fellow citizens on the shoulder, turn them gently towards that gang of neoconservative dunderheads, and say, "see that over there, that gaggle of deferment dopes with their toy soldiers and tanks, well, we got a name for that...it's bullshit."
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Product Details

Kagan, Robert
Vintage Books USA
United States - General
International Relations - General
Political History
United States Foreign relations 1865-1921.
United States Territorial expansion.
US History-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.96x5.28x.93 in. .83 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » International Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » US History » General

Dangerous Nation: America's Foreign Policy from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century Used Trade Paper
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Product details 544 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375724916 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , From the bestselling author of "Of Paradise and Power" comes a major reevaluation of Americas foreign policy from the colonial era to the turn of the 20th century.
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