Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order

Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order

by Robert Kagan

At a time when relations between the United States and Europe are at their lowest ebb since World War II, this brief but cogent book is essential reading.

Robert Kagan, a leading scholar of American foreign policy, forces both sides to see themselves through the eyes of the other.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Politics
  • Rating: 3.60
  • Pages: 174
  • Publish Date: January 27th 2004 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 1400034183
  • Isbn13: 9781400034185

What People Think about "Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order"

It follows that if Europe wants the U.S. to fight under the guise of "international law" (which I agree with him is a bunch of hot air) that is because they are doing their best to have leverage on us because they are so weak and we are so strong, militarily. It follows from this that they are weak because we have been protecting them for so long with our military power allowing them to build a "paradise" of social programs with the money they would otherwise have to build weapons with. As with most political writing the authors views are most easily revealed in what they DO NOT say.

Is this a fair and balanced account of the differences between America and Europe when it comes to foreign policy ? It's a book-length defence of Americas policy and a book-length critique of everything the author perceives as wrong with Europe, and when it comes down to it, the entire book can be summarized as "Europe should double it's military budget, and be much more willing to use it aggressively outside their own territory, the way USA does." If judged as an attempt at what the book-title and the cover claims it's going to do, namely to contrast and compare, naming advantages and disadvantages of both approaches, this book is a failure. It's interesting, not for what he says about foreign-policy, but for what the book says about the author, and others like him.

Robert Kagan's brilliant and concise book analyze the differences between how the US and Europe have come to see international politics. Europe seemed more willing to tolerate threats like Iraq and to deal with them through persuasion, pressure, containment, and incentives. Kagan uses a cutting analogy to connect power to threat tolerance. The logic here dictates that the person with more power will seek confrontation in order to eliminate threats it feels it would rather not tolerate? Another crucial point is that the Europeans see themselves as building a Kantian liberal international order within Europe in which the use of force is strongly discouraged. The Europeans tend to criticize the US for its unilateral streak and its willingness to use force and sometimes bend international law for security reasons. The US continues to enforce international law and address threats inside and outside of Europe, but in order to make the liberal European order it has to, or at least thinks it has to, flex military muscles more often than Europeans find appropriate. The growing enmity between the US and Europe comes from the fact that the Europeans see the US use of force and unilateralism as a threat to their system, which is based more strictly on law, economic integration, and diplomacy. After 9/11, Kagan says we only accelerated our tendency to see the world in these terms and our willingness to use force to eliminate threats to liberty/democracy/capitalism and expand that circle. The Bush administration eschewed foreign help in Afghanistan and killed any possibility of a broad coalition by breaking international law repeatedly and shifting the focus of the War on Terror to Iraq.

Kagan has amplified the themes expounded in this book in subsequent writings - The World America Made and the Jungle Grows Back. After digesting three of his books, Kagan strikes me as a writer who tends to rant; however, this is not to deny the plausibility and merits of his theses. His writings seem loosely organized, almost like articles written in instalments for Foreign Affairs and Atlantic that were translated into books without much editing.

In fact, it might be time to draw attention to the bewildering number of people who appear to believe that if we cannot have a perfect conversation we should have no conversation at all. Most of us are stuck in the standard communicative muddle, attempting to make the best of ill-chosen words, thorny facts and a point that's clearly been cobbled together on the instinctive fly.

It emerged from a journal article and seems to have been expanded too far too fast; a book-length treatment should have been more thorough.

Kagans argument, in Of Paradise and Power, can be summarized in saying that the interests and inclinations of America and Europe have diverged. I agree with Kagans main point that the interests and inclinations of the United States and Europe have diverged.

Robert Kagan is an American historian and foreign policy commentator.