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The Fragility of the Liberal World Order

A review of The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperiled World by Robert Kagan. Knopf (September 2018) 192 pages.

In its natural state, international relations is little more than a ‘jungle.’ There is no umpire to ensure fair play, no global police force to punish wrongdoers, and ‘good boys’ are rarely rewarded. Prevaricate or show weakness and you risk being picked off and consumed by bigger beasts.

Prior to the end of the Second World War, European geopolitics was characterized by this remorseless logic. As states vied for hegemony, tens of millions were killed in war and conflict, and human tragedy and suffering were on scales almost beyond the imaginable. Today, however, we have complex forms of global economic interdependence, sets of global institutions that fuse us together and a transformed jungle that incentivize ‘good boys,’ as well as rules, norms and ultimately military power to make sure they remain good. How did our international jungle, an almost constant in human history, come to be so tamed?

In his latest book, The Jungle Grows Back: America and our Imperiled World, Robert Kagan details the coming to power of America. After the Second World War, Great Britain, the world’s previous hegemon, was bankrupt and the baton for world leadership passed inexorably from one great liberal democracy to another. This was a natural step, given the concentration of power into America’s hands. Its industrial capacity remained untouched, it possessed huge reserves of capital, it had a military power unmatched in human history and enjoyed regional hegemony across the Americas. Quite unique in history, however, and unlike previous great powers that have emerged victorious after major conflicts, America did not use this new-found power to construct a form of global imperial order that sought the decimation of the losers, territorial occupation or other forms of ‘bounty.’ For Kagan, the architects of the post-war order sought to wed America’s new-found superpower to the construction of a world order that reflected the domestic values of America itself: a liberal international order.

These values were universalist and sought to remake the world in America’s image, including a commitment to liberal democracy and human rights. More important was the self-restraint of American power within this new order. That is, the jungle’s biggest beast not only sought to reduce conflict by protecting the jungle’s lesser beasts, but also made itself subject to those same rules. Moreover, it did not try to kill off its former jungle rivals, but sought to restore them to health. This rehabilitation of Japan and Germany (East Asia and Europe’s natural hegemons) was the most “significant post-war revolution in international affairs,” says Kagan, as U.S. power helped transform these countries from the “ambitious, autocratic, military powerhouses they had been to the pacific, democratic economic powerhouses they eventually became.” Indeed, an extraordinary form of benign hegemony.

At the heart of this U.S.-led liberal post-war architecture was a quid pro quo. In return for recognizing that the U.S. was now the undisputed king of the jungle, both former enemies and its now subordinate allies would play by its rules. And while economic competition would take place (with Japan and Germany challenging U.S. economic hegemony as early as the 1970s) none would challenge the U.S. militarily or embark on military adventures of their own without permission (as the British learnt to their peril during the Suez crisis of 1956). In return, states within the U.S.-led liberal order would freely have access to U.S. markets and capital, as well as global rules and institutions to regularize political-economic interactions and a rules-based system that gave voice to weaker states and a structure to international relations.

This deal also contained a security component. If you were in the ‘liberal club’ you would also enjoy U.S. security protection. For Japan, this was codified within the U.S.-Japan Security Pact and for the Europeans the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The U.S. security guarantee not only checked and contained the threat of Soviet tyranny, but also pacified geopolitics in these key regions. Japan would grow economically, but no longer militarily threaten its neighbors, which in turn helped with regional economic integration. In Europe, U.S. military power became the security pre-condition for the complex forms of political and economic interdependence built up in the post-war period, with the U.S. the key architect of European integration. Lord Hastings, NATO’s first Secretary General, famously declared that the alliance was designed to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Alongside these benefits, the security provided by the U.S. also allowed the Europeans to build up large welfare states, not least because they did not have to foot the bill for their own security (well covered by Kagan’s 2003 book, Of Paradise and Power).

This order proved remarkably durable. After the end of the Cold War, NATO and the EU expanded into the former Soviet sphere of influence, and rising East Asian powers joined global institutions such as the World Trade Organization. All in all, the liberal order became the institutional instantiation of the U.S.’s modest global ambitions: world trade, a peaceful Europe and East Asia that looked to the U.S. for its security and an acceptance that, broadly speaking, the U.S. would occasionally act unilaterally to defend its national interests.

Robert Kagan

Despite these successes, however, a new illiberalism is afoot, according to Kagan. China’s one-party state is now seeking to re-assert its military power in East Asia. Meanwhile, Russia is seeking to reverse the humiliations of the post-Cold War settlement and restore its great power status. Both powers complain about the U.S.’s unipolarity and seek to dismantle the liberal world order which, for them, is a smokescreen for U.S. imperialism. But it’s not these developments that threaten that order, Kagan believes, so much as what’s happening in American domestic politics. Kagan, a neoconservative, argues that Obama’s weakness was the real problem, particularly his failure to reinforce America’s red lines in Syria—something that led to the U.S.’s Middle Eastern and Gulf allies to question American power. What good is a king of the jungle when he can no longer keep the bullies in line? While Obama was bad, Kagan argues, Trump poses an even greater threat. His economic nationalism threatens to unravel the world economic order and his populism has released dangerous forces in American politics. Tracing a genealogy from Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany to the alt-right of today, Kagan cautions that ‘Trumpism’ is allowing the jungle to take hold in America itself.

Is it too late to save the U.S.-led liberal order? Kagan remains sanguine. Despite its critics across the political spectrum, the world order’s architecture and institutions remains strong, not least because “they rest on geographical realities and a distribution of power that still favor the liberal order and still pose obstacles to those who would disrupt it.” Moreover, “liberal values, though under assault, remain a force that binds the democratic nations of the world together.”

How valuable is Kagan’s analysis and what should we make of the current state of American foreign policy? First, there is little here that has not been done elsewhere and often at much greater depth. Princeton’s John Ikenberry has long championed liberal international relations theory and, while not a neoconservative, his 2011 book Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American System and his masterful After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars (2001) provide a far more detailed and nuanced portrait of the historical contours of the liberal order. His work focuses on how great powers use moments of deep transformation in international relations to refashion world order in ways that reflect their national interests. To put it bluntly, why buy Kagan’s historical burger when you can have steak? (Full disclosure: I recently edited a special journal issue with Ikenberry and Inderjeet Parmar that you can find here.)

Second, Kagan is a little too hostile to Trump and his worldview. This worldview says that American foreign policy and economic elites have constructed a global system that benefits them to the detriment of the American worker (globalism). The outsourcing of jobs to China, mass immigration, stagnant wages, and the loss of America’s sense of self are part of the cost of globalization, according to Trump and his allies. This has taken place as bankers and Wall Street have made trillions for U.S. economic elites, while getting the U.S. tax payer to bail them out when their bets don’t pay off. Kagan isn’t very sympathetic to this populist nationalism, but given the blood and treasure that’s been spent on securing and maintaining the U.S.’s dominance, it’s reasonable to ask what exactly it is that ordinary Americans are getting from the liberal order?

U.S. foreign policy elites, of which Kagan is a part, need to work out how to reconcile America’s role as the guarantor of the liberal world order with the domestic costs this often generates. It may benefit the bi-coastal elite, but what of the ordinary workers in the flyover states? Globalization has contributed to the demise of the rust belt, the stagnation of wages and the disappearance of traditional blue-collar jobs. In the long economic boom following the Second World War, this dilemma was easier to manage; now, the benefits of American elites’ preferred global model has become a much harder sell to those who feel the economic costs to themselves and their families.

This short book is a valuable read and makes a valiant effort to argue for America’s continued deep engagement in the world. I share this sentiment, although this position will have many critics. Aside from the historical narrative that I have sketched above, the book has an important underlying message, one that neoconservatives have made consistently. The world order is not natural; it needed to be built and it needs to be carefully maintained. That it is a liberal world order is far from inevitable. Think, for example, what type of regional or even global order would have been constructed had Hitler won the Second World War? It matters who wins big wars.

More importantly for Kagan, the current world order needs a big beast to keep the bullies in check. The U.S. has often been highly hypocritical, and its sins of commission and omission are numerous, but if we accept that international orders will reflect the domestic values of the great powers that sustain them, what kind of alternative would we like to see? Kagan’s key message is that if you want peace, prepare for war. Human existence “is a constant battle among competing impulses—between self-love and the love of others, between the noble and the base, between the desire for freedom and the desire for order and security—and because those struggles never end, the fate of liberalism and democracy in the world is never settled. It is an illusion to believe that the present democratic age is eternal rather than transient, or that it can survive without constant tending and constant defense.”

 

Doug Stokes is a professor in international security and strategy in the Department of Politics at the University of Exeter. 

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26 Comments

  1. This post reminds me of a book by Ian Bremmer called “Every Nation for Itself” (https://www.amazon.ca/Every-Nation-Itself-Happens-Leads/dp/159184620X). It is about the eventual relative American decline as other countries (notably China, India, Brazil and EU) become comparatively more powerful economically and militarily. The key take away is those who wish for a “Multi-polar world” are living in a fantasy if they think this post-WWII liberal order will remain. It will be a far more violent world as large countries compete more aggressively for resources.

      • ga gamba says

        Other than the EU amongst itself genuine free does not exist. Even then, the EU uses distortive methods such as subsidies and quotas within its customs, trade, and industrial/farm/fisheries/energy policies; the EU’s single market is still an ongoing project. Globally, we have managed trade to the advantage of those who negotiate the deals and who are are largely insulated from its consequences.

        This is not to say free trade is easy to accomplish, especially when we consider things like labeling, phytosanitary standards, country of origin rules with regard to components used to make the final good, etc. Do we mutually recognise or harmonise?

      • prior to WW I the european states had economic ties that were tighter than anything prior to the 70s. That didn’t prevent them from waging war

  2. Circuses and Bread says

    I think the author is dead wrong. The liberal world order is not fragile, nor is it in any danger of demise. As we’ve seen chronicled at Quillette many times, those who have the temerity to challenge the political class in any meaningful way will quickly find themselves deplatformed, ostracized, bankrupted, or worse.

    On a somewhat related note, I think that some of these articles would be improved by theme music. I suggest “don’t cry for me Argentina” from the musical “Evita” for this one. 😆

    • peterschaeffer says

      CAB, The liberal world order is quite willing and able to silence its critics in the West. However, the rise of China makes Western ‘opinion’ increasingly a sideshow.

  3. The following conversation took place between the United States and certain other nations in the mid to late 1940s:

    United States: How about we give you money to rebuild your bombed-out economies, and, as a bonus, we’ll protect you now and in the future against the bad guys. We’ll even pay for the protection! All you have to do is let us become the dominant power in the world.

    Western Europe and Japan: Sure, we can agree to that.

    Seventy years later, is there any question who got the short end of that stick?

    Maybe that’s why a lot of people in the US don’t give a damn about the now-collapsing “liberal post-war architecture.” We’d maybe like a little bit of what the Germans and Danes and all those other Western European states who are not burdened with the costs of running a loss-leading protection racket have enjoyed for decades – you know, like health care for all. We’d like some of that — although, of course, without all those unassimilable and crime-prone Muslim and African illegal immigrants you allow to gorge themselves at your trough.

    • @ A New Radical Centrism (@a_centrism)

      Haha I was reading your comment and thinking, “but they screwed themselves on the immigration issue” and sure enough, you nailed it at the end.

      Western culture really has made a mess of itself, and it seems we’re at the point where it’s either going to grow up and learn to think its way out of these mental traps traps – what is the limit on compassion, how much equality is good – or collapse due to its inability to reign in the bad ideas.

      If nothing else, an interesting time to be alive.

      • peanut gallery says

        The West no longer believes in itself. Sometimes for good reasons, but we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  4. Neconservative think tanks are probably losing influence and market, no wonder we see criticism of Trump’s policies. Everyone probably know this but he is married to Victoria Nuland — a former Department of States assistant secretary and Clinton family close ally.

  5. “Deep engagement with the world” would be a lot more convincing, if it still produced results. It doesn’t, and hasn’t for some time now.

    Currently America has nearly one thousand military bases around the world, and we still have troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Even though the military and political leaders admit these wars cannot be won, there is still a lobby for new wars, in Iran, Africa, and who knows where else.

    Everything that has a beginning has an end. The American hegemony is not the only possible world configuration, and trying to sustain it in a world where it no longer works is foolish.

    The wisest course for America is to prepare for a multipolar world where we ally ourselves with the liberal states to ensure as much peace and prosperity as is possible.

  6. What possible national interest does America have in places like Syria or Iran?

    Isn’t the mess in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan enough?

    Further, a bunch of treaties and international institutions intended to contain Soviet communism probably need some review, after all, an expansionist Soviet communism is gone.

    Last, if China stays on track, America is likely to get lapped in 2030 or so. Playing nation-building in the Middle East isn’t going to stop that train.

  7. peterschaeffer says

    The post-WWII world order was a product of U.S. military and economic dominance. At the end of WWII, the U.S. was (by far) the world leader in oil, coal, steel, natural gas, electricity, etc. Now it is not.

    At the end of WWII, the U.S. accounted from 1/3rd of global output and (more relatively) 50% of global manufacturing and half of global CO2. That era is long past. China is now the dominant economic power of the world.

    Just from 2000 to 2017, the U.S. share of global CO2 fell from 24% to 15%. The world has changed. Kagan is living in a era that is long past.

  8. Kagan should get on his knees and thank whoever he prays to for Trump. His worldview depends on young men willing to put their lives on the line. It is a pretty hard sell when the hardship and danger of keeping the seas lanes open for commerce means that their fathers and brothers back home have no job opportunities.

    Someone has to pay the price for this scheme. And frankly the soaring rhetoric falls flat when the vaunted US military is used to fight the wars of a medieval kingdom who uses the ample oil money to foment world-wide revolution.

    The world Kagan yearns for existed for a short while, mostly in response to the Soviet threat. The stalemate kept a lid on the excesses of the worldview and provided a moral urgency to the project. Freed from that reality we now see these idiot neocons ready to overthrow the democratic institutions in the country they depend upon, in the vain hope of fulfilling their dreams.

    Sorry. You had a chance after 9/11 to accomplish good, but you blew it. As with all ideologies, without a natural check to the ambitions they end badly.

    This from someone sympathetic to the project.

  9. Kagan is a Neo-Con of the liberal sort. The ideology of the Straussians (the main philosopher of the former Trotskyist turned neo-con) is every bit of a utopian imagining as is that of a Marxian. The idea that we could fly in and “liberate” the middle east by the barrel of a gun in a centralized, top down fashion, without taking in any account of the actual people and their histories, religion, motivations, education, ect… is everybit as Leninist as any Bolshevik.

    By the way, it should be noted that at the onset of the Iraq war, a line was drawn between the new right and the old right (Neo-Con & Paleo-Con). It was in an article written by David Frum (erstwhile righteous Never Trumper) where-in he throws down the gauntlet in an article titled “Unpatriotic Conservatives” https://www.nationalreview.com/2003/03/unpatriotic-conservatives-david-frum/

    The Paleo Conservatives had the audacity to view the United States as a Republic and not an Empire (gasp, the horror) and also enough knowledge of history to know what happens when republics overreach and turn into empires. Frum, in perfect neo-Trotskyite fashion, had this to say:

    “War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen — and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.”

    The whole article was a slandering hit piece but the point is, Kagan is from the same school of thought. These people need to disappear into the dustbins of history, along with all the Marxists and other failed utopian ideologies.

    • It bears noting that in 2000, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran were all enemies of Israel.

      Now Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are in chaos, Syria is engulfed in civil war, and Iran is public enemy number one.

      Obviously, Israel has been blessed by–perhaps God?–with good fortune, but what is in it for America?

    • Which is precisely the reason why US intelligence should fund operations designed to build democracy from the ground up. Iran is a classic example. The youth of Iran are predominately Western educated and will have a natural affinity with a more global identity (broadly speaking, Americanised) than with Ayatollah Khomeini and his regime of oppression and thuggery.

      Reminds me of the distinction between “policy doves” and “policy eagles” – I refer to the former here.

      I don’t think its too utopian to think that the Middle East can develop under the auspices of a democratic order. Name me one Middle Eastern multi-lateral organization (which doesn’t have its focus on oil) devoted to stability, peace and democracy and we are one step closer. As idealistic as it may sound to some, I think it’s a far better alternative than liberating the middle east with the barrel of a gun or simply leaving the region to its own devices. Both of those alternatives have proven to be wrong.

      But hey, what would I know right?

      • Mitch, astroturfing Iran into the modern age sounds great and all but are there any historical examples of it working? The only examples of forcible liberalisation I can think of are South Korea and Japan and those involved fairly lengthy occupations by the US military.

        • Mitch says

          The short answer to your question is no. There are no examples of the astroturphing working. However what I’m advocating isn’t astroturphing. There is a marked difference between building up a push for democracy with no local support (astroturphing) and then actually supporting a genuine push for democracy which is predominately localised. That’s why I mentioned Iranian youth.

          Japan was recovering from WW2 and the end of shitoist nationalism. A dangerous ideology akin to Nazism and I think the US led rejuvenation is what led to democracy flourishing in Japan. South Korea is an interesting example too. But I don’t think either of the two examples you use are evidence of “forcible liberalisation”, unless of course you are specifically talking about liberal capitalism? (ie economic liberalisation).

  10. Everytime I read liberal world order it just sounds like New World Order (oh no that’s conspiracy theory talk!) Yeah, and the cute new liberal world order basically admits it’s true! Lol yeah the elites masterminded the liberal world order secretly out of the benevolence of their hearts, we’re all becoming aware of it in 2018 (never heard of the term liberal world order till about maybe 3 weeks ago on this site).

    Once I saw Building 7 fall, thanks to Alex Jones X Box and Netflix, my blood started to burn. I was in my early 20’s, very unaware of the ways of the world and the bs power matrix game that keeps everyone in line… It was immediate, I knew without a doubt WE WERE LIED TOO. THE BUILDINGS WERE BROUGHT DOWN WITH CONTROLLED DEMOLITIONS. Anyone else go through that experience? Maybe Vladimir Puttin has… He watches a youtube video of Building 7 falling… Son of A BITCH!!! Those American’s are trying to create a, create a Liberal World Order!!!
    .

  11. Sounds like a good read. It would provide an antidote to some of the regressives who call for the end of US hegemony. The same antidote can be administered to the hard right who see the film Team America: World Police as an instruction manual for international diplomacy.

    “it’s reasonable to ask what exactly it is that ordinary Americans are getting from the liberal order?”

    This is a question also worth asking the Clintonians who lost the 2016 election. I firmly believe that the 2016 election was lost by Clinton, not won by Trump. The effects of the trade war with China are yet to be seen, but tariffs will undermine the strength of the liberal world order. It will fall upon the rest of the democratic world to ensure that it can be maintained – if of course the liberal world order is to continue into the rest of the 21st Century.

    I commend Trump on his stance towards Iran. You don’t let theocracies anywhere near uranium enrichment. It is too much of a slippery slope. Russia will only behave itself when its seat isn’t constantly removed from under it every time it tries to sit down at the negotiation table. The world is a safer place when the US and Russia get along, or at least when they appear to be doing so. We have to accept an Assad-run Syria. The airstrikes against the Syrians in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons was a good idea, or else the precedent for chemical weapons is left unquestioned. The liberal world order is our last guarantor of international security in an age of international insecurity.

    • “You don’t let theocracies anywhere near uranium enrichment”

      –Pakistan? Saudi Arabia?

      • Mitch says

        I’m not sure what your comment is implying. But I think I might know. I think that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are equally as problematic as Iran. If I had to split hairs, I’d say that Pakistan is probably less of a threat to the Liberal World Order than what Iran and Saudi Arabia are. Pakistan isn’t theocratic, but recent developments are worrying. The greatest threat to democracy in any of the three countries here is a bottom up push for theocratic rule – not top down. That’s what happened in Iran with the revolution of 1978. Saudi Arabia is theocratic too.

        It is a slippery slope when you let countries like these enrich uranium. Perhaps it would’ve been better to say “you CAN’T let theocracies anywhere near uranium enrichment”.

  12. Northern Observer says

    Kagan is an unreliable narrator of the US led Liberal World Order, meaning he claims to be speaking for it and to represent its historical development and current interest accurately but his argument unwinds once you start to see his hidden motivation wriggling under the bed sheets.
    The key here is Syria and the Syrian conflict as an example of Western “weakness” in the face of threats. Once you begin to research this conflict and see the players on the ground, their funding, their actions, the view of the future eventually you come to the conclusion that a) western intelligence agencies have become very adapt at molding public opinion through western media outlets to the point of passing lies as truths (chemical attacks) b) western intelligence agencies have leaned nothing since Afghanistan and 9/11 and are still addicted to using fanatical Sunni extremists as proxy soldiers to fight for their policy objectives. If the blow back kills 95 concert goers in Paris 2 years later, so be it.
    The US led Liberal World Order has come into question because the decisions its leadership have made since the end of the Cold War (academic, military, intelligence and political) have been poor decisions, ones that get Western citizens killed at home and abroad. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, maybe even Yugoslavia and Ukraine – have all been poor decisions with negative effects that Western publics dislike. The people of the Western world have not gone illiberal, the have turned to the electoral more right (far right is a misnomer for most of these parties) to resolve a problem democratically and change the decision making of the elites that run Western nations. Kagan slanders the people of the West by labeling them as illiberal. The attitudinal surveys do not back him up.
    Why would Kagan put forward such an analysis? He puts it forth because he has a cause that transcends morality and truth, that transcends honesty and honor, that cause is the survival and flourishing of the nation of Israel and Kagan firmly believes that if the USA is not present and willing to intervene in conflicts at a moments notice, if the USA is not the World hegemon, that Israel will be isolated and alone in facing its enemies when a major crisis comes; and he may very well be right. I also say this as someone who thinks the solution to the Arab Israeli conflict is for all Palestinians to find new homes and lives in the greater Arab world. It’s not about my feelings towards Israel, its’ about how its supporters in the American Establishment feel (unnerved) and what they are willing to do about it (anything).
    There is a further paradox in all this in that as western nations are becoming more nationalist and national minded they are simply following the example of Israel which is the most perfect expression of the 19th century nation state ideal in the world today. How can the supporters of Israel deny to Europeans (or anyone), national self preservation, which they give to themselves by any means necessary. They can’t and this is why Kagan obfuscates the issue and makes it a morality play about international and domestic liberal values. It is not, it is about democracy and holding elites responsible for bad choices.

  13. Just watched the speech our President gave to the U.N.

    The “Liberal World Order” is done. Say hello to Sovereign Countries making their own choices and figuring out their own paths. Say hello to fair and reciprocal trade. Know what this sounds like? Returning to our roots.

    “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations…entangling alliances with none”
    -Thomas Jefferson

    As far as U.S. hegemony (I had to look that word up in the dictionary basically means authority over others or domination) we don’t need that and that’s not us. We just need to stay the course our Founders set us on, and we’re getting back on track FAST.

  14. Kagan gets the details OK but the fundamental reasoning is wrong, which leads to very serious errors in understanding and dealing with the post-Cold War era including the present. The US did not set out to create and enforce a liberal order, its goals were more modest: avoid another world war and contain the Soviet Union within its immediate post-War space. Given the failure of the League of Nations, that was all FDR expected or hoped for from his United Nations, and Churchill was skeptical even that was attainable–certainly not a proto-world government. We did many of the things Kagan says but the motivation was quite different.

    Post-1989/91, the post-War world could continue for a time based on the remaining Cold War structures because there were no systemic challenges to face. But since 2001 and even more 2008, there are such challenges (China, Russia back on its feet, militant Islam, serious internal problems throughout the West) and it does nobody any favors to pretend that the US has suddenly and inexplicably abandoned a “liberal order” that was at most only instrumental, never its primary goal in the first place. Europeans seem to think that the US made an irrevocable and eternal commitment to absorb their defense costs and accept unfair terms of trade as part of that “liberal order,” and that is so wrong as to be risible. The US accepted its responsibilities to NATO because of the need to resist Soviet expansion and nobody else was in a position to do so, and to avoid proliferation of nuclear powers in Europe.

    That all went by the boards ca. 1991 and by 2008 there was both no rationale for the USA continuing to bear the cost of many features of the post-war system, and new pressures forcing a re-thinking of that system. Clinging to teh comforting fiction of the “liberal order” has been a way for Europeans to blame the US for their own irresponsibility, and for the worldwide elites to avoid the hard thinking about tough choices that are now required.

    Kagan is a pretty smart guy and I wonder if he is consciously running a scam.

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