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Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in America’s Foreign and Defense Policy Paperback – November 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

Two leading advocates of "conservative internationalism" in foreign policy assemble a like-minded group of deep thinkers in Present Dangers. According to the editors--Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and William Kristol of The Weekly Standard--America's most significant threats come from within, rather than without. They worry that "the United States, the world's dominant power on whom the maintenance of international peace and the support of liberal democratic principles depends, will shrink its responsibilities and--in a fit of absentmindedness, or parsimony, or indifference--allow the international order that it created and sustains to collapse." As might be expected, the Clinton administration comes in for a thrashing on these pages. Ross H. Munro, an expert on China, writes: "However history judges [President] Clinton, the assessment of how his administration dealt with a rising China is certain to be harsh." In a chapter on Russia, Peter W. Rodman slams the Clintonites for "sentimentality," an "absurd doctrinal fetish" with arms control, and "an unwillingness to assert major American strategic interests and impose a penalty for harm done to them, lest the poor Russians feel hurt." There are other essays, too: Richard N. Perle on Iraq, Elliott Abrams on the Middle East, and William J. Bennett on the importance of morality and character in foreign policy. Clear thinking and straightforward writing mark each chapter.

As a whole, Present Dangers is an excellent primer on how a Republican foreign policy might look in the early years of the 21st century. But to be sure, a Republican foreign policy would not inevitably look this way; in one of the book's best sections, James W. Caesar examines the realist and isolationist schools of conservative thought and contrasts them with the view expressed throughout Present Dangers. Yet this is a strong and convincing call for "a strong commitment to vigorous American global leadership, to American power, and to the advancement of American democratic and free-market principles abroad." --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robert Kagan and William Kristol, Editors

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554163
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554160
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,497,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is undoubtedly one of the most important books on US foreign policy published in recent years and should be read by anyone who cares about the future of the United States and the rest of the world. This is the manifesto of "conservative internationalism" whose proponents, including many of the books authors, now infest the Bush administration and are his loudest ventriloquists. Here, then, is the current administration's strategic vision.
The basic argument is that the US needs to exercise world domination, here spun as "benevolent global hegemony" and that there are a number of external obstacles which stand in the way and must be dealt with. These are Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China, the Middle East peace process and an independent Europe. In its clear and reasoned enunciation of strategy and future plans, it both rivals and surpasses the later chapters of Mein Kampf. Here is the game plan which must be read to understand where these people intend to take the world next.
If we ignore the desirability of this mission, its feasibility (the cost in money, lives and freedom) certainly merits discussion, but here the book is thin, relying on fairy story assumptions (budget surpluses!!!) and wishful thinking.
The one distasteful aspect of the book is the attempt to wrap the entire endeavour in the cloak of "American morality", understood as protecting citizen's liberties. This is breathtaking stuff from accomplices in the most extensive attempt to incinerate the Constitution in recent history.
Stripped of its ideological air cover and romantic fantasies, this is still an important, timely and lively document since this is the future course of foreign policy which the Bush administration plans to pursue.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Alan on October 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Whether you agree with the American foreign and defense policy of the Bush administration or not, this book is essential reading for those interested in the topic. It's a series of essays on different foreign and defense policy issues written by people who are highly influential in the Bush administration, including Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams and Paul Wolfowitz.
The central thesis seems to be that the US is (or maybe WAS immediately after the Cold War) at an unprecedented position of influence and power over the world, and should use it to secure the safety of the whole world before those who wish to threaten the free world acquire the means to do so. The book was written at the end of the Clinton administration, but many parts of the book are extremely prophetic including the need to confront the members of the "Axis of Evil" about their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the palestinian uprising against the stalled peace process which had not yet begun when the book was written. Like I said, even if you're not in agreement with Bush administration policy, you'll learn what some of the influential minds are thinking (and why their right!).
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chuck DeVore on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Present Dangers" is a remarkably clear collection of recommendations. In it, the authors (many of whom will no doubt occupy high positions in a Bush Administration) offer prescriptions to correct years of misguided foreign policy initiatives as well as to forge solutions for our forgotten military.

"Present Dangers" is a self-contained package. Robert Kagan and William Kristol didn't only select essayists that tell the reader what is wrong with today's policies, they, without exception, offer credible solutions as well.

This book will generate controversy in the same way President Ronald Reagan's foreign and military policies generated alarm among the status quo seeking elite who view themselves to be the sole legitimate practitioners of the art of diplomacy.

"Present Dangers" shows how America can seize the initiative on the world scene -- to shape the world to be a safer, freer place, more conducive to American interests and values.

After eight years of drift and confusion, this book is a welcome call to sensible action.

Reviewer: Chuck DeVore is Vice President of Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He served in the California State Assemblyman from 2004 to 2010. Before his election, he was an executive in the aerospace industry. He was a Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs in the Department of Defense from 1986 to 1988. He is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army (retired) Reserve. DeVore is the author of "The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America," the co-author of "China Attacks," and author of the novel "Twilight of the Rising Sun."
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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very worthy book, and should be much much higher in the popular sales ranking. I bought this book at the same time that I bought the more historically grounded "While America Sleeps", and could not have asked for a better companion volume. Finally, I understand the forces that are tearing George W. Bush in two-on the one side, the conservative isolationists, who believe that we must reject internationalism in all forms, and eschew intervention or "911 missions" at all costs-and on the other side, the conservative internationalists, who by this excellent account have both a pragmatic and realistic grasp of the lessons of history, of the shrinking globe that we find in the present, and of the speed with which "regional" threats can become global challenges.
The two introductory contributions, one on the national interest and global responsibility, the other on the differences between conservative isolationists and conservative internationalists and all others, are extraordinarily essential readings for anyone who hopes to understand the early days-and contradictory signals-of the next Administration. Individual chapters by very well-qualified experts cover the conservative internationalist view of China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Europe and NATO, Asian Allies, and Israel. More general chapters address the decline of America's armed forces and the strategic case for dealing with weapons proliferation. The book concludes with three truly essential readings for any citizen, student, businessman, bureaucrat, or policymaker: on morality and foreign policy by William Bennett, on statesmanship in the new century by Paul Wolfowitz, and on strength and will in historical perspective by Donald Kagan.
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