To Lead the World: American Strategy After the Bush Doctrine

Melvyn P. Leffler, Editor, Jeffrey W. Legro, Editor . Oxford Univ. $17.95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-19-536941-0

The 13 academic and public intellectuals convened in this collection of essays on geopolitics agree on some things: the importance of American leadership; the desirability of free trade; the threats posed by global warming, Islamist radicalism and nuclear proliferation; the ineptitude, if not criminality, of Bush’s foreign policy. But there are significant points of contention. Should America assert its military power independently or work through global institutions and international concerts? Should it promote democracy abroad or back stable autocracies? Is the nation-state essential or irrelevant? The contributors run the gamut from hawks like James Kurth—who wants America to be a “Boss of Bosses” and “ruthlessly devastate” its opponents—to doves like Francis Fukuyama, who endorses “foreign policy as social work.” In thought-provoking pieces, David Kennedy calls for a draft lottery to dispel an incipient “American Caesarism” facilitated by the professional military, and Niall Ferguson throws a contrarian curveball asserting the impossibility of fighting a pre-emptive war against terrorism. There’s not much ideological coherence, but there is plenty of lively debate and rich food for thought. (July)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
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