The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (Just Not the Way George Bush Did)

James Traub, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-15847-7

Traub (The Best Intentions ) tries to rescue the policy of democracy-promotion from the ashes of the Iraq War in this book that is both a critique of contemporary politics and a nimble history of the continuities in American foreign policy. According to the author, the “Freedom Agenda”—George W. Bush's declaration that American liberty is dependent on “liberty in other lands” is—for all its contemporary bungling—a “venerable American axiom.” The ambition to export democracy has been “our missionary impulse,” an impulse the book traces from McKinley's 1898 invasion of the Philippines. Securing democracy at home and abroad is essential, argues Traub; “our own security depends on the progress of liberty”—just not with the “heavy-handed and often bellicose” approach of the Bush administration. Although he gives short shrift to historical democracy-promotion successes in Germany, Japan and South Korea, the author's cogent assessment of the current necessity and challenges of recent efforts by presidents Carter to George W. Bush makes for a useful primer on American intervention in a changing world. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 277 pages - 978-0-312-42857-0
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4299-4184-6
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