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Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order


Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order Cover




It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power—the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power—American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power, or to put it a little differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Immanuel Kants “perpetual peace.” Meanwhile, the United States remains mired in history, exercising power in an anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable, and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: They agree on little and understand one another less and less. And this state of affairs is not transitory—the product of one American election or one catastrophic event. The reasons for the transatlantic divide are deep, long in development, and likely to endure. When it comes to setting national priorities, determining threats, defining challenges, and fashioning and implementing foreign and defense policies, the United States and Europe have parted ways.

It is easier to see the contrast as an American living in Europe. Europeans are more conscious of the growing differences, perhaps because they fear them more. European intellectuals are nearly unanimous in the conviction that Americans and Europeans no longer share a common “strategic culture.” The European caricature at its most extreme depicts an America dominated by a “culture of death,” its warlike temperament the natural product of a violent society where every man has a gun and the death penalty reigns. But even those who do not make this crude link agree there are profound differences in the way the United States and Europe conduct foreign policy.

The United States, they argue, resorts to force more quickly and, compared with Europe, is less patient with diplomacy. Americans generally see the world divided between good and evil, between friends and enemies, while Europeans see a more complex picture. When confronting real or potential adversaries, Americans generally favor policies of coercion rather than persuasion, emphasizing punitive sanctions over inducements to better behavior, the stick over the carrot. Americans tend to seek finality in international affairs: They want problems solved, threats eliminated. And, of course, Americans increasingly tend toward unilateralism in international affairs. They are less inclined to act through international institutions such as the United Nations, less likely to work cooperatively with other nations to pursue common goals, more skeptical about international law, and more willing to operate outside its strictures when they deem it necessary, or even merely useful.

Europeans insist they approach problems with greater nuance and sophistication. They try to influence others through subtlety and indirection. They are more toler- ant of failure, more patient when solutions dont come quickly. They generally favor peaceful responses to problems, preferring negotiation, diplomacy, and persuasion to coercion. They are quicker to appeal to international law, international conventions, and international opinion to adjudicate disputes. They try to use commercial and economic ties to bind nations together. They often emphasize process over result, believing that ultimately process can become substance.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Kagan, Robert
International Relations - General
International Relations - Diplomacy
European union
United States Foreign relations.
International Relations
Politics-United States Foreign Policy
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.03x5.18x.51 in. .42 lbs.

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Related Subjects

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

Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order Sale Trade Paper
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Product details 174 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400034185 Reviews:
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[Kagan's] prose is lucid and elegant, and his arguments are thoughtfully marshaled....Kagan demonstrates a confidence and authority that demand serious attention.... The true measure of Kagan's small book is that it is hard to imagine any future serious discussion of trans-Atlantic relations or America's role in the world without reference to it."
"Synopsis" by , 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.

"Synopsis" by , Controversial essay on America and Europe's competing interests in the future.
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