Robert Kaplan's Warrior Politics is an extended, willfully provocative essay arguing that the bedrock of sound foreign policy should be "comprehensive pragmatism" rather than "utopian hopes." Kaplan calls for a reestablishment of American (primarily) realpolitik, one distanced from Judeo-Christian (or private) virtue and closer to a "pagan" (public) one. He aligns himself with America's Founding Fathers, who, he says, believed good government emerged only from a "sly understanding of men's passions." His book is a mix of aphoristic pronouncements, brief contemporary political analyses, rapid-fire parallels between conflicts ancient and current, and copious quotes from historians and thinkers through the ages (Livy, Thucydides, Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes among them). Though its historical gleanings are often too summary and suspiciously convenient, Warrior Politics promises to generate controversy among students of global politics--just as it was designed to do. --H. O'Billovitch
From Publishers Weekly
Years of reporting from combat zones in Bosnia, Uganda, the Sudan, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Eritrea have convinced Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts, The Coming Anarchy) that Thucydides and Sun-Tzu are still right on the money when they wrote that war is not an aberration and that civilization can repress barbarism but cannot eradicate it. Reminding readers that "The greater the disregard of history, the greater the delusions regarding the future," Kaplan conducts a brisk tour through the works of Machiavelli, Malthus and Hobbes, among others, to support his advocacy of foreign policy based on the morality of results rather than good intentions. From those classics, he extracts historical models and rationales for exploiting military might, stealth, cunning and what he dubs "anxious foresight" (which some may regard as pessimism based on disasters past) in order to lead, fight and bring adversaries to their knees should they challenge the prevailing balance of power. He also adapts this model to business, exploring the ways modern-day CEOs can benefit from history's lessons. Kaplan's discussion of the world's breeding grounds for rogue warriors out to disrupt daily life in bizarre new ways will strike a chord with most readers, as will his recounting of the brilliant statesmanship of Churchill and Roosevelt during World War II. Some readers, however, may take exception to the potshots Kaplan aims at (unnamed) media personalities and human rights advocates. This is a provocative, smart and polemical work that will stimulate lively discussion. Agents, Brandt and Brandt. (Jan.)Forecast: Kaplan's credentials, combined with his call for a strong and unambiguous foreign policy, should draw attention. Blurbs from Henry Kissinger and former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry will help.
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