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America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy [Paperback]

Francis Fukuyama
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 20, 2007 0300122535 978-0300122534 Annotated.
Francis Fukuyama’s criticism of the Iraq war put him at odds with neoconservative friends both within and outside the Bush administration. Here he explains how, in its decision to invade Iraq, the Bush administration failed in its stewardship of American foreign policy. First, the administration wrongly made preventive war the central tenet of its foreign policy. In addition, it badly misjudged the global reaction to its exercise of “benevolent hegemony.” And finally, it failed to appreciate the difficulties involved in large-scale social engineering, grossly underestimating the difficulties involved in establishing a successful democratic government in Iraq.
Fukuyama explores the contention by the Bush administration’s critics that it had a neoconservative agenda that dictated its foreign policy during the president’s first term.  Providing a fascinating history of the varied strands of neoconservative thought since the 1930s, Fukuyama argues that the movement’s legacy is a complex one that can be  interpreted quite differently than it was after the end of the Cold War. Analyzing the Bush administration’s miscalculations in responding to the post–September 11 challenge, Fukuyama proposes a new approach to American foreign policy through which such mistakes might be turned around—one in which the positive aspects of the neoconservative legacy are joined with a more realistic view of the way American power can be used around the world.   

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this history of and forecast for neoconservative thought, Fukuyama (The End of History and the Last Man), a neoconservative with close ties to the Bush administration, complicates the notion that many of the Bush administration's policies are based on neoconservative thought by tracing the roots of neoconservativism from the 1940s onward. Fukuyama finds fault with many aspects of Bush's foreign policies, notably the inadequate planning for post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq, the conflation of the threat of radical Islamism with Iraq and the administration's non-cooperation with international organizations like the United Nations during a deluge of anti-Americanism. Unlike many indictments of the Bush administration, Fukuyama's book considers conflicting neoconservative principles and offers a reconciliation of neoconservative thought with a wider worldview, making this a timely book that'll spur more than its share of discussion.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Francis Fukuyama has often been more poised and clinical than his neoconservative contemporaries (including William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz). Perhaps this makes his backflip away from mainline neocon thought understandable, but it doesn't make it any more forgivable. Many reviewers censure the Johns Hopkins University professor for not providing a personal defense of his defection. All the political lather threatens to obscure the actual book, which contains a concise history of neoconservative thought and a thoughtful, if not totally new, proposal for more peaceful (or "soft power") means of nation building. That might give heart to liberals, but his colleagues feel he has abandoned the convictions of his 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man, and committed the ultimate political sin: swapping horses at midterm. <BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Annotated. edition (March 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300122535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300122534
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), resident in FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning democratization and international political economy. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. His most recent books are America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, and Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States. His latest book, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution will be published in April 2011.

Francis Fukuyama received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in Political Science. He was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation from 1979-1980, then again from 1983-89, and from 1995-96. In 1981-82 and in 1989 he was a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State, the first time as a regular member specializing in Middle East affairs, and then as Deputy Director for European political-military affairs. In 1981-82 he was also a member of the US delegation to the Egyptian-Israeli talks on Palestinian autonomy. From 1996-2000 he was Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University, and from 2001-2010 he was Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He served as a member of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001-2004.

Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. He holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), and Kansai University (Japan). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rand Corporation, the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, and member of the advisory boards for the Journal of Democracy, the Inter-American Dialogue, and The New America Foundation. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Pacific Council for International Affairs. He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.

March 2011

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
97 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
When Francis Fukyama writes a book critiquing the war in Iraq and the neo conservatives who backed the policy, one must sit up and take notice. His previous book, "The End of History," with its positivist view and thesis that history is inexorably marching towards liberal democracy and capitalism formed a central text in describing the neo conservative world view. Given his background, Fukuyama's decision to write a book attacking the Bush administration's Iraq policy will surely not be easily lumped with many other books opposing the war, nor will he make as easy a target for lambasting by the White House press office.

Fukayama's book focuses on two critiques of the war, on practical and the other philosophical. The first offers no real surprises as it simply states facts now widely published and generally accepted by all but the most ardent supporters of the Iraq War. These include the lack of troops on the ground, the absurd idea that all Iraqis would welcome the US as liberators, failure to quickly quell looting and lawlessness after the fall of Saddam, general lack of interest in the specifics of Iraqi culture and history, bureaucratic sidelining of experts from the state department, and the list goes on. Again, the only thing that makes this particularly interesting is that this author cannot be simply dismissed with hollow phrases like "leftist" or "Bush Basher."

In the second category, Fukuyama's book truly stands out for both a unique approach and perspective. Yes, the author does believe that world history moves towards democracy, but he looks wearily at the idea that American power can hasten that march through military power.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Post-Neoconservative Moment April 27, 2006
Format:Hardcover
For anyone who followed the Krauthammer/Fukuyama feud of 2004, this book, a follow-up, should come as no surprise. To summarize, Krauthammer gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute extolling the Bush administration's policies of unilateralism, preemption, regime change, and benevolent hegemony (empire?). For Krauthammer, it was the correct strategy for confronting the evils of Islamic totalitarianism. For Fukuyama, it was the breaking point; he could no longer support these policies and wrote his response for "The National Interest" called "The Neoconservative Moment."

Since then the debate has been raging and Fukuyama has started his own journal "The American Interest," fleshing out his post-neoconservative position.

In the present work, he traces the origins of neoconsevativism to a group of leftist intellectuals (Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz being the most prominent) at the City College of New York who were anti-Stalinist during the Cold War and anti-New Left during the Vietnam War. From this group emerged a set of principles that defines neoconservatism. 1)They believe that liberal democratic states are by their nature non-threatening and should therefore be promoted; 2)they believe in the use of American military power for moral purposes; 3)they are dismissive of international institutions for being too corrupted by illiberal regimes; and 4) they do not believe in government projects that entail "social engineering" or "nation building."

One can see from the fourth principle why the project in Iraq went awry. Removing a totalitarian regime with no civil society to fall back on, only forced the people into warlordism, sectarianism, and jihadist insurgency groups.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a neocon repents January 17, 2007
Format:Hardcover
In 1992 Francis Fukuyama, professor of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, published his controversial book The End of History and the Last Man in which he argued that humanity had made no significant political progress since the French Revolution and that the collapse of communism in 1989 signaled the "end" of history. By "end" Fukuyama meant that western, liberal democracy had triumphed over all political options. He revised his thesis a decade later in Our Posthuman Future; Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (2002), not because he thought it was wrong, but because he failed to consider the role of science as perhaps the chief engine that drives human history. Science drives any number of interests--technological, economic, ethical, social, and so on, but Fukuyama realized that it also increasingly drives our political life.

A speech at the annual dinner for the conservative American Enterprise Institute in February 2004 by the syndicated columnist and leading neoconservative Charles Krauthammer caused Fukuyama to change course again, this time rather drastically. Krauthammer's speech came about a year after America's invasion of Iraq, and described the war as a virtually unqualified success. Whereas everyone applauded, Fukuyama was flabbergasted. Although for a long time he regarded himself as a leading neoconservative, he concluded that he could no longer support neoconservativism as "a political symbol and a body of thought." His newest book is thus "an attempt to elucidate the neoconservative legacy, explain where in my view the Bush administration has gone wrong, and outline an alternative way for the United States to relate to the rest of the world."

In his longest chapter Fukuyama considers "The Neoconservative Legacy" (pp.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good work
Published 4 days ago by charles
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Thoughts from the Loser of the Neocon Civil War (Neocon Schism)
Francis Fukuyama is perhaps most notable for coming out on the bottom of the 2004 Neocon Schism. Back then he and Charles Krauthammer went head to head over the pros (Krauthammer)... Read more
Published 2 months ago by John R. Holmes, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely Arrival & A-1 Condition
This hard cover copy was as/or is new with it's slip cover! I am very glad to add it to my library!
Published 10 months ago by WINIFRED A ROBERTSON
5.0 out of 5 stars Explaining the End of American Century
Yes, this is way late but even so the book was very meaningful and still provides a very good insight into thought patterns that led to USA's various modes of involvement in the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Alaturka
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Read
This was a hard book to get into reading. Enjoyment would depend on the audience reading the book. Dry reading.
Published 19 months ago by Kelly
3.0 out of 5 stars good summary of neoconservative thought
"The key principles of neoconservatisim as they developed from the mid-twentieth century to the present are deeply rooted in a variety of American traditions. Read more
Published on June 6, 2009 by s9999
5.0 out of 5 stars America at the Crossroads
I'm "pigging out" on Fukuyama's books (bought three of 'em) and they are exactly what I expected. They're all well worth reading.
Published on September 24, 2008 by Lauriston H. Mccagg
3.0 out of 5 stars The history of the neoconservative movement and its hijacking.
OK, I am not a neoconservative. However, I wanted to know a little more about this movement since many in the Administration are deemed neoconservatives. Read more
Published on September 4, 2007 by Kevin M Quigg
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading
The past success of Francis Fukuyama has created high expectations for each new book and he does not disappoint us with America at the Crossroads. Read more
Published on September 2, 2007 by R. L. Hogan
4.0 out of 5 stars Anarchistically arrogant
With The End of History and The Last Man, Fukuyama provided neo-conservatives and their political acolytes with the academic legitimacy they did not have otherwise. Read more
Published on July 13, 2007 by Jacques COULARDEAU
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