Synopses & Reviews
Free-market capitalism, hegemony, Western culture, peace, and democracy--the ideas that shaped world politics in the twentieth century and underpinned American foreign policy--have lost a good deal of their strength. Authority is now more contested and power more diffuse. Hegemony (benign or otherwise) is no longer a choice, not for the United States, for China, or for anyone else.
Steven Weber and Bruce Jentleson are not declinists, but they argue that the United States must take a different stance toward the rest of the world in this, the twenty-first century. Now that we can't dominate others, we must rely on strategy, making trade-offs and focusing our efforts. And they do not mean military strategy, such as "the global war on terror." Rather, we must compete in the global marketplace of ideas--with state-directed capitalism, with charismatic authoritarian leaders, with jihadism. In politics, ideas and influence are now critical currency.
At the core of our efforts must be a new conception of the world order based on mutuality, and of a just society that inspires and embraces people around the world.
"In this concise book, Weber, a professor at Berkeley, and Jentleson, a professor at Duke, identify 'five big ideas' that dominated international politics in the 20th century: peace is better than war; benign hegemony is better than a balance of power; capitalism is better than socialism; democracy is better than dictatorship; and western culture is superior to other cultures. The authors argue that for much of the world a repressive government that achieves economic progress (as is the case in Singapore, for instance) is preferable to a democratic government that fails to improve living standards; this shift, the authors argue, needs to be understood by the American people in order for the U.S. to successfully transition from lone superpower to savvy and influential player. Though their message is far from new, it's extremely well articulated. Yet finding an audience for this book may be a challenge; it's too simplistic for foreign policy wonks and too sophisticated to find a home on Main Street.
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About the Author
Steven Weberis Professor of Political Science, <>University of California, Berkeley.Bruce W. Jentlesonis Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University.