America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy Paperback – 20 Mar 2007
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"Francis Fukuyama here gives the most lucid and knowledgeable account of the neoconservative vision of America's place and role in world affairs, and where it has overreached disastrously. He argues effectively for an American foreign policy more aware of the limits of American power, less dependent on the military, and more respectful of the interests and opinions of other countries and emerging international norms and institutions."-Nathan Glazer, Professor of Sociology and Education Emeritus, Harvard University
"Fukuyama's sharpest insight here is how the miraculously peaceful end of the cold war lulled many of us into overconfidence . . ." -- Andrew Sullivan "Time"
"For anyone interested in the neocons' history and prospects...a superb guide to this intellectual battleground."
-- Philip Seib "Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal"
"Represents the latest and most detailed criticism of the Bush administration's war in Iraq . . . [A] tough-minded and edifying book." -- Michiko Kakutani "New York Times"
"Fukuyama is always worth reading, and his new book contains ideas that I hope the non-neoconservatives of America will adopt." -- Paul Berman "6. New York Times Book Review"
"Fukuyama's book considers conflicting neoconservative principles and offers a reconciliation of neoconservative thought with a wider worldview . . . a timely book. . ."-"Publishers Weekly"
"Important and clear-sighted . . . one of the best available concise histories and explanations of the neoconservative movement and its chief ideas . . ." -- Walter Russell Mead "Foreign Affairs"
"Fukuyama's book is elegantly and concisely argued. His call for realistic Wilsonianism'. is just right." -- Alan Wolfe "Chronicle of Higher Education"
"This important, and insightful book . sets forth an alternative vision, one that [Fukuyama] sees as . more consistent with American values .." -- Christopher Preble "The American Conservative"
"America at the Crossroads lays out a vision for the future of American foreign policy that progressives would be smart to embrace."-Isaac Chotiner, "Washington"" Monthly"
-- Issac Chotiner "Washington Monthly"
About the Author
Francis Fukuyama is Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of the International Development Program at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He has written widely on political and economic development, and his previous books include The End of History and the Last Man, a best seller and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Critic Award.
Top customer reviews
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine & University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
Because of Prime Minister Tony Blair's absolute commitment to the policies of President George Bush, this book has profound relevance for the future of Great Britain.
Of course, Fukuyama once boasted about "the end of history" when communism collapsed. This book continues his flawed premise that the only idea of merit is the American way of doing things. History is littered with similar boasts, from Greek city states to Napoleon who believed all Europe would be vastly improved under his dynamic leadership.
It ain't necessarily so.
Two facts illustrate the folly of Fukuyama's basic assumptions: 1) Americans rightly resent outsiders telling them how to run their country, and 2) American global business is very sensitive to the "cultural relativity". Until Fukuyama and the "We're No. 1" crowd in the White House learn this, US foreign policy will continue to be a unilateral disaster.
"It seems very doubtful at this juncture that history will judge the Iraq war kindly," Fukuyama confesses near the end of the book. "Repairing American credibility will not be a matter of better public relations, it will require a new team and new policies . . . One of the consequences of a perceived failure in Iraq will be the discrediting of the entire neoconservative agenda."
In other words, dump Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice to salvage the wreckage of neoconservative fantasies. Like many pseudo-intellectuals, Fukuyama cannot admit his basic idea is badly flawed. This is the weakness of true believers who believe failure in reality simply means a more rigorous imposition of theflawed ideology.
What is the alternative? The London-based Financial Times lists eight American brands among the world's top ten. This shows the potential acceptance of American values, ideals and leadership; none of these brands succeed by using the neoconservative dogma.
However, the fundamental folly of Fukuyama doesn't leave his book without merit. Failure can be a powerful learning tool, and Fukuyama is certainly a jackdaw scholar when it comes to adroitly gathering flawed ideas into one concise dogma. Leaving aside those who think the Iraq war is a matchless success, this is a priceless collection of the follies, farragoes and fatuities that have produced an unprecedented decline in American prestige, power, respect and leadership.
Buy it. Read it. Think. If neoconservatives have truly placed "America at the Crossroads" of history, then this is probably the best available road map to explain the impending disaster. After all, it was written by one of the principal tour guides; if others can learn from history, they can make rational choices at the potentially deadly intersection between respect and relevance or rejection and revulsion.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
We can learn a lot from the political losers. Fukuyama is brilliant and his 2006 book continues to be relevant. In it he doesn't rehash the Neocon Schism. Instead, with great knowledge and clarity, he chronicles the history of Neoconservative thought, as well as and explaining its underlying philosophies. In these days of ideological fanatacism it might seem pointless to see what those "crazy conservatives" were thinking (then or now). But Fukuyama explains a lot of political history, including the concepts of American Exceptionalism, global presence, and global force projection that continue to underly our foreign polices. That alone is worth the price.
The neo-conservative philosophy, as it pertains of foreign policy, has always had some gaping holes. It's a policy borne of arrogance and driven by testosterone whereby the United States uses its position as the world's sole superpower to stand outside of international law. Mr. Fukuyama writes, "The fact that the United States granted itself a right that it would deny other countries is based [...] on an implicit judgment that the United States is different from other countries" and "Being willing to work within a multilateral framework does not mean accepting support only on your terms; that is just another form of unilateralism" The Iraqi invasion was just one in a series of occasions where the Bush administration showed its distain for world opinion. Others include the Kyoto treaty, the ABM missile treaty and the appointment of John Bolton to U.N. ambassador. Mr. Fukuyama makes the point that, "It is not sufficient that Americans believe in their own good intentions; non-Americans must be convinced of them as well" This is such an important statement that the neo-cons should have it etched on their foreheads.
There are three main points that stood out to me. The first is that the war in Iraq betrays one of the core ideas on which neo-conservativism and paleo-conservativism are founded; that being that social engineering is a mistake and causes more problems that it solves. The fact that the engineering is being imposed from outside rather than from home grown Iraqi elites is immaterial. The second point is that Democracy doesn't happen overnight and it isn't granted at the end of a rifle. Mr. Fukuyama argues that, like Capitalism, Democracy is maintainable only after the underlying institutions of support are created and this takes time. Finally, the author points out that the preventative war policy puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the United States. First, the United States would have to be capable of accurately predicting the future (Iraq already showed how this can break down). Being the lone arbiter of the future of our planet brings even more responsibility as the author writes; "The hegemon has to be not just well-intentioned but also prudent and smart in its exercise of power" Even staunch fans of Bush might blanch at the prospect of the opposition party having the power to reshape nations at their whim.
Crossroads is an amazingly insightful, intelligent and readable book. Many of Mr. Fukuyama's thoughts are insanely obvious but they're so obvious that they need to be spoken because so many American's seem to be unable to see the forest for the trees. One thing that surprised me was a week effort to defend neo-conservativism even as he washed his hands of it. He wrote, "The administration principals most in favor of the war - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney - were not known as neoconservatives before their tenures, and we do not know the origins of their views." Since Cheney and Rummy are both listed as founders of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) which included among its ranks Donald Kagan, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer and explicitly spelled out the neo-conservatives beliefs on foreign policy and the future of our military I would have to say that Mr. Fukuyama is lying. Still, despite some questionable statements it's a great book and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Nonetheless, this is a powerful volume--and it builds on a slender work that is a genuine treasure in the debate over democratic nation building--his 2004 volume, State-Building. Indeed, these two works should probably be considered together.
The former lays out the prerequisites for any effort at democratic nation-building. It is a hard-headed work that complements a large literature--and is one that neocons in the Bush administration should have taken seriously.
This work attempts to show how the neoconservatives "lost their way." Fukuyama, once a player in this movement, reflected upon where the movement was going and has concluded that it has taken a wrong turn. Other revieweers accuse him of apostasy, opportunism, and so on. But this is a work from a leading intellectual that must be confronted and taken seriously.
This new work is focused on American foreign policy after September 11th. The contentious and confusing topic is expertly analyzed and explained by Fukuyama in a manner that is understandable to the layperson, yet thorough and complex. It is a thought-provoking analysis that is unusually non-partisan. Extremists from both the left and right political circles will not find countenance in this book. Professor Fukuyama is astutely fair in his criticism of the Bush Administration and, yet, carefully realistic on what the U.S. options are in fighting Islamic terrorism.
This book is highly recommended to anyone who wants to broaden their understanding of the foreign policy matters. It should be required reading by all presidential candidates and the media who cover those candidates. It is a rarity to find this combination of complexity, evenhandedness, and readability in one book.
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