Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times hailed John B. Judis's The Emerging Democratic Majority as "indispensable." Now this brilliant political writer compares the failure of American imperialism a century ago with the potential failure of the current administration's imperialistic policies.
One hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt believed that the only way the United States could achieve peace, prosperity, and national greatness was by joining Europe in a struggle to add colonies. But Roosevelt became disillusioned with this imperialist strategy after a long war in the Philippines. Woodrow Wilson, shocked by nationalist backlash to American intervention in Mexico and by the outbreak of World War I, began to see imperialism not as an instrument of peace and democracy, but of war and tyranny. Wilson advocated that the United States lead the nations of the world in eliminating colonialism and by creating a "community of power" to replace the unstable "balance of power." Wilson's efforts were frustrated,but decades later they led to the creation of the United Nations, NATO, the IMF, and the World Bank. The prosperity and relative peace in the United States of the past fifty years confirmed the wisdom of Wilson's approach.
Despite the proven success of Wilson's strategy, George W. Bush has repudiated it. He has revived the narrow nationalism of the Republicans who rejected the League of Nations in the 1920s. And at the urging of his neoconservative supporters, he has revived the old, discredited imperialist strategy of attempting to unilaterally overthrow regimes deemed unfriendly by his administration. Bush rejects the role of international institutions and agreements in curbing terrorists, slowing global pollution, and containing potential threats. In The Folly of Empire, John B. Judis convincingly pits Wilson's arguments against those of George W. Bush and the neoconservatives.
Judis draws sharp contrasts between the Bush administration's policies, especially with regard to Iraq, and those of every administration from Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman through George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The result is a concise, thought-provoking look at America's position in the world -- then and now -- and how it has been formed, that will spark debate and controversy in Washington and beyond. The Folly of Empire raises crucial questions about why the Bush administration has embarked on a foreign policy that has been proven unsuccessful and presents damning evidence that its failure is already imminent. The final message is a sobering one: Leaders ignore history's lessons at their peril.
"Surveying American foreign policy since the 1890s, New Republic senior editor Judis argues that when conservatives compare George W. Bush's post-9/11 speech to Congress with Roosevelt's 'The Strenuous Life' (a speech that endorsed U.S. expansionism), they leave out Roosevelt's later doubts about expansionism and his support for international law and organization. While adopting Woodrow Wilson's goal of global democracy, conservatives, Judis says, have disregarded Wilson's recognition, through the example of Mexico, that the U.S. will stumble when trying to impose a government in the manner of McKinley and early Teddy Roosevelt: unilaterally. Where Judis identifies imperialist activity over the decades, he finds it grounded in America's sense of mission. But he also finds American torture in Iraq echoing American conduct toward Native Americans and in the Philippines and Vietnam: treatment meted out to 'savages,' not equals. He praises Bill Clinton for using NATO as not merely a military alliance but an 'association of interest.' While Judis makes a strong case that Bush's repudiation of Clinton's support for numerous treaties and pacts is shortsighted, he fails to criticize international institutions systematically, such as the United Nations' failure in Rwanda or the curious presence of nondemocratic countries on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Agent, Rafe Sagalyn. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Showing how the Bush administration has failed to learn from past attempts at American imperialism, this concise, argumentative book will spark debate and controversy. Its final message is a sobering one: leaders ignore history's lessons at their peril.
Table of Contents
I. An Empire of Liberty: The Framework of American Foreign Policy
II. America's Imperial Moment
III. Theodore Roosevelt and the Heel of Achilles
IV. Woodrow Wilson and the Way to Liberty
V. Woodrow Wilson and the Conscience of the World
VI. Franklin Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms
VII. Cold War Liberalism from Truman to Reagan
VIII. Bush, Clinton, and the Triumph of Wilsonianism
IX. George W. Bush Sees Evil
X. George W. Bush and the Illusion of Omnipotence