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America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy Hardcover – February, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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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.
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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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (February 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300113994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300113990
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,437,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. A Magill VINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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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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