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The American Way of Strategy: U.S. Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195341416
ISBN-10: 0195341414
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since the first Gulf War, American foreign policy has undergone a dangerous shift against its tradition of preserving "the American way of life"—the civil liberties assured by a system of democratic republican liberalism—argues author and journalist Lind. The strategy has changed in style over time, from the "isolationism" of the first hundred years to 20th-century global alliances and "temporary alliance hegemony" against mounting empires. But keeping security costs down while "promoting a less dangerous international environment" has largely permitted the public to avoid trading liberty for security in moments of crisis, he argues. By contrast, the emergence of a post–Cold War bipartisan consensus around permanent U.S. global dominance (championed by neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney) is a perilous anomaly, says Lind (The Radical Center). His lucid if sometimes reductive focus on international strategy and power politics as a primary engine of history can obscure as much as it clarifies. But Lind's advocacy of a "concert of power" or shared primacy among several nations gains a persuasive momentum, exposing the folly of the current imperial strategy while forcefully examining the neglected role of foreign policy in the shaping of American politics and society. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A shrewd and plausible critique of the drift of policy since the cold war."--The New York Times Book Review

"Michael Lind's The American Way of Strategy represents an early and thoughtful attempt to sketch a post-Iraq foreign policy. The virtue of Lind's book is its sweeping ambition. He writes in evident outrage over the policies of the Bush administration, but his book is not about the debacle in Iraq or how to respond to Islamist terrorism. It is not even about the renewed dispute between the great foreign policy traditions of realism (a la Henry Kissinger) and idealism (a la Woodrow Wilson). Instead, Lind, a fellow at the New America Foundation, scours history for tenets that have guided U.S. foreign policy in the past and that should be applied in the future."--Washington Post Book World

"Lind's encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. history and extraordinary grasp of the intellectual history of U.S. politics qualify him to write with great authority and insight about the development of American grand strategy from the Washington administration to the present day, and this generally level-headed and balanced book will significantly enhance Lind's reputation in foreign policy circles."--Foreign Affairs

"In this important defense of liberal internationalism, Michael Lind reminds us that the greatest threat to the American way of life is that Americans jettison their democratic republican government and society in search of security in a garrison state. He wisely argues that democracy is best promoted by example, not by force, and that a world safe or democracy need not be a democratic world."--Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University and author of The Powers to Lead

"It is an intriguing thesis: American strategy is, and always has been, to prevent the rise of a hegemon sufficiently powerful to require us to sacrifice our liberty to preserve our country. Thus, Michael Lind could not be more timely in his caution against those today who would casually suspend our Constitutional liberties, our 'American way of life,' in the name of a war on terrorism."--Gary Hart, United States Senator (Retired)

"Lind deftly explores the intimate connection between America's political culture and its foreign policy, mapping out the consequences at home and abroad. This book offers a unique perspective on America's engagement with the world--and then goes on not only to diagnose why America has of late gone off course, but also to prescribe an intelligent and considered remedy."--Charles A. Kupchan, author of The End of the American Era

"In the 21st century, the United States must strive to make its position of primacy acceptable to the rest of the world, while preserving the domestic freedoms and economic vitality that are central to the American way of life.To do that, it must avoid the twin temptations of either global empire or isolationist withdrawal, while keeping our commitments and our resources in balance. In this incisive new book, Michael Lind shows why America's traditional strategy of 'liberal realism' is still the best blueprint for preserving both our national security and our essential liberties. It is a book whose message could not be more timely."--Stephen Walt, author of Taming American Power


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195341414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195341416
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.8 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first chapter alone justifies buying the book. Michael Lind's American Way of Strategy is essential to an understanding of long-term (200+ years) American security policy. The first chapter applies directly to America's true objectives in prosecuting the war on terror, particularly in regards to nuclear proliferation. I haven't been more enthralled with a book on this subject since Walter Russell Mead's Special Providence.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Lind's appearances on Bloggingheads.tv, so I really wish I could recommend this more wholeheartedly, but I was disappointed. The first section was straight gangbusters, with the explanation of American strategy as being calculated to avoid the very real possibilities of a "garrison state", "tributary state" or "castle society." "The purpose of the American way of strategy is to defend the American way of life by means that do not endanger the American way of life." Right on.

Lind's summary of early US foreign policy is very good, his WWI, interwar & WWII is pretty good, and his Cold War is excellent, but after that the book falls apart in a hurry. The closer he gets to the present day, the more antique it all seems. All about unitary states, not a non-state actor to be found, and all the concern is with forging anti-hegemonic networks of power to prevent rising great states from dominating the globe (really, if there is a Russia-China-US alliance, who are we balancing?). The book seems to take place on a Risk board; It just didn't seem to grapple with the really sticky issues of today. And the chapter on economic globalisation was exceedingly weak. Seriously, skip that part.

Lind is very very fluent at Realism, but much shakier at holding up the Liberal Internationalism side of his thesis, I feel. Now, Liberal Internationalism often gets smeared as inherently wobbly, so Lind's added handicap doesn't help the case. But some of his prescriptions are just flagrantly DOA.
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Format: Paperback
I recommend Michael Lind's book for anyone, short on time, who wants to understand the general consistency of American security policy at least up through the end of the cold war. Beyond the cold war, this book describes history in the making which will certainly be subject to multiple interpretations as it solidifies over time. For anyone asking the question "Where is America going?" and Where should America be going?" The American Way of Strategy will give you much to think about. These questions are not suitable for sound bites and partisan politics should have no role here. These are serious, deep, but also practical issues. Mr. Lind's excellent history and creative analyses has provided me with an excellent framework with which to deal with them. You will enjoy his book!
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