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Idealism Without Illusions/U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1990s Paperback – March, 1994
Top customer reviews
This book is a fairly quick read at 236 pages, but there's a lot packed into it.
Part One (pp. 1-59) examines the revolutions of 1989 and 1991 leading to the overthrow of Communism (both the reality of the Soviet Union and in the grand illusions held by liberal academics).
Part Two (pp. 50-125) examines the lessons we can learn from the Cold War; "beyond moralism and realpolitik, toward redefining "America's Purpose"; responding to the proposal of English historian Paul Johnson for a "new colonialism" with the help of a more forceful U.N. centered on the Security Council (favorable, with reservations) and the radical isolationism of Pat Buchanan (disagrees).
I found Part Three (pp. 143-213) to be the most fascinating in light of recent events -- for here Weigel examines "just war after the Gulf War, touching on Saddam Hussein's continued quest for nuclear capability and the limits of
national sovereignty with relation to pre-emptive strikes against despotic and aggressive regimes (such as Iraq) which pose a threat to international peace and order).
Also addressed in the third section is the justification for and reasonable constraints on U.S. "humanitarian intervention" (with specific reference to the Bosnian Crisis); "Islam and the West" -- that is to say, understanding militant Islam and taking the threat seriously; "Terrorism and America" (using as an example the first Twin Towers Attack on March 17, 1993); and critiquing the debate over human rights in the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, June 1993).
A fair warning -- as a 'neocon', much of what Weigel says will be irksome to liberal ears, particularly those enraptured by Noam Chomsky and the editorials of the New York Times. Read with an open mind, and you may very well find this book both thought provoking and convention-shattering -- even for a non political science major like myself.
[Weigel is president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center think tank in Washington, D.C.; those interested in his analysis of the Catholic just war tradition should get a copy of his detailed treatment 'Tranquilitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Fuiture Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace.'