The World America Made
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Robert Kagan, the New York Times bestselling author of Of Paradise and Power and one of the country’s most influential strategic thinkers, reaffirms the importance of United States’s global leadership in this timely and important book.
Upon its initial publication, The World America Made became one of the most talked about political books of the year, influencing Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address and shaping the thought of both the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns. In these incisive and engaging pages, Kagan responds to those who anticipate—or even long for—a post-American world order by showing what a decline in America’s influence would truly mean for the United States and the rest of the world, as the vital institutions, economies, and ideals currently supported by American power wane or disappear. As Kagan notes, it has happened before: one need only to consider the consequences of the breakdown of the Roman Empire and the collapse of the European order in World War I. This book is a powerful warning that America need not and dare not decline by committing preemptive superpower suicide.
1920s and 1930s, many people in Europe, and even some in the United States, decided that capitalism was, as Marx predicted, doomed to destroy itself. In the 1970s era of high oil prices and stagflation, various statist models, like that of the Japanese, appeared to be more successful. Today, the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the Great Recession, combined with the financial crisis in the European Union, have again raised doubts across the world and led many to ask whether the Chinese model of
was as much a miracle to the people of the late nineteenth century as our own technologically driven globalization has been to us. And it had a similarly stimulating effect on the global economy. John Maynard Keynes called it an “economic Eldorado,” and for a while, as he observed, this remarkable international economic boom was not disrupted by the “projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion.”38 But then,
philosophes of the Enlightenment three centuries ago foresaw reason gradually triumphing over the animal instincts of men. In the international realm, they saw the rise of commercial republics as an eventual antidote to war. Increasing commerce among nations, they believed, would soften manners and tame humans’ atavistic, violent impulses. They looked forward to the day when nations would be governed by laws and institutions based on reason. The heyday of this way of thinking came almost exactly
to the United States. The problem was Britain’s decline relative to Germany, which aimed for supremacy on the European continent, sought to compete with Britain on the high seas, and in both respects posed a threat to Britain’s core security. In the case of the United States, the dramatic and rapid rise of the German and Japanese economies during the Cold War reduced American primacy in the world much more than the more recent “rise of the rest.” America’s share of the world’s GDP, nearly 50
more critical view of dictatorship. The U.S. Congress, led by human rights advocates, began to condition or cut off American aid to authoritarian allies, which had the effect of weakening their hold on power. In the Helsinki Accords of 1975, a reference to human rights issues raised greater attention to the cause of dissidents and other opponents of dictatorship in the Eastern bloc. President Jimmy Carter focused attention on the human rights practices of the Soviet Union as well as on right-wing