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.
Robert Kagan and William Kristol, Editors
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