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Heads In the Sand
When mainstream Democratic politicians talk about Iraq, why do they sound more like Republicans than like the actual Democratic citizens they claim to represent? Are they simply ducking for cover from the with-us-or-against-us Republican onslaught? Are Democrats actually buying into the right wing's dark, pessimistic vision of endless conflict combined with blinkered optimism about the boundless utility of military force? Has the liberal tradition failed to provide useful principles on which to build and conduct foreign policy?
In Heads in the Sand, fast-rising political observer and commentator Matthew Yglesias reveals the wrong-headed foreign policy stance of conservatives, neocons, and the Republican Party for what it isaggressive nationalism, or, to be impolite, a new version of old-fashioned imperialism. He then examines how Democrats and progressives have responded to the conservative agenda, from mistakenly labeling it isolationism to repeated calls for big, bold, new ideas and the failure to actually produce any.
Writing with wit, passion, and keen insight, Yglesias reminds us of the rich tradition of liberal internationalism that, developed by Democrats, was used with great success by both Democratic and Republican administrations for more than fifty years. It was, in fact, the foreign policy strategy that revived Europe after World War II, established the United Nations, and won the Cold War.
Based on the principle of promoting global order through international law and stable institutions, liberal internationalism is far from perfect and not nearly sexy enough to appeal to chest-thumping hawks. But, as Yglesias demonstrates, exercised with patience, flexibility, and restraint by nine American presidents, it has produced more peace, prosperity, and international harmony than any other approach. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it's the worst form of foreign policy, except for all the others.
The forces opposed to liberal internationalism, however, are large and growing. And, Yglesias reveals, they're not all on the far right. He presents a startling revelation of how many moderates, liberals, and even far-left progressives seem more than happy to use America's military might to accomplish their objectives.
While Democrats have come unmoored from their foreign-policy principles for multiple and complex reasons, Matthew Yglesias makes it clear that the path to redemption is open, if not always pothole-free. Americans no longer support reckless Republican policies and the time is ripenot for a new direction, but for the return of a tried-and-true direction. With Heads in the Sand, he provides a starting point for politicians, policymakers, pundits, and citizens alike to return America to its role as leader of a peace-loving and cooperative international community.
Praise for Heads In the Sand
"A very serious, thoughtful argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care."
Ezra Klein, staff writer at The American Prospect
"Matt Yglesias is one of the smartest voices in the blogosphere. He knows a lot about politics, a lot about foreign policy, and, crucially, is unusually shrewd in understanding how they interact. Here's hoping that his new book will introduce him to an even wider audience. Once you discover him, you'll be hooked."
E. J. Dionne, author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right and Why Americans Hate Politics
"Matthew Yglesias is one of a handful of bloggers that I make a point of reading every day. Heads in the Sandis a smart, vital book that urges Democrats to stop evading the foreign-policy debate and to embrace the old principles of international liberalismto be right and also to win."
Fred Kaplan, author of Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power
"Reading foreign policy tomes is seldom included among life's pleasures, but Yglesias has concocted a startling exception. Heads in the Sand is not just a razor-sharp analysis cum narrative of the politics of national security in general and the Iraq war in particular, it's also an enthralling and often very funny piece of writing. Though he administers strong antidotes to the haplessness of his fellow Democrats and liberals, there's more than a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down."
Hendrik Hertzberg, Senior Editor, The New Yorker, and author of Politics: Observations and Arguments
Extremely bias. I understand how difficult it is to write something without bias, but this is just pitiful! Read morePublished 10 months ago by Hunter Clark
To my many friends, both known and unknown, wherever you may be, I submit these thoughts for your consideration. If you disagree with my claim that Mr. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Someone with common sense
I've read Matt's columns for years, and always enjoyed his writing. This book felt phoned in. Not worth the money, and I wouldn't even feel right selling it to someone else on... Read morePublished on March 9, 2012 by TulipGirl
Matt seems to be trying to sell his view of the world, but his view is very skewed. It is very obvious Matt lacks any kind of formal education and is instead using DNC talking... Read morePublished on March 7, 2012 by Jeffrey Williams
A great read on the history of Democratic leaders timidness at doing things appropriately when given the chance.Published on January 30, 2010 by M. Perloe
Yglesias puts modern foreign policy in context with historical foreign policy. This book has completely re-framed how I debate with people, with the phrase "traditional liberal... Read morePublished on August 15, 2008 by Bradley ODonnell
I greatly enjoyed Matt Yglesias's new book. I'm generally not the type to read foreign policy books, but I'm a regular reader of his blog. Read morePublished on May 8, 2008 by Adam Dukovich
I've been an avid reader of Matt Yglesias's blog since long before he was assimilated into the Atlantic collective. Read morePublished on May 5, 2008 by Brian Doyle