Review: Present Dangers–Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Conservative Internationalists Provide the Game Plan,

December 7, 2000
Robert Kagan
his is a very worthy book, and should be much much higher in the popular sales ranking. I bought this book at the same time that I bought the more historically grounded “While America Sleeps”, and could not have asked for a better companion volume. Finally, I understand the forces that are tearing George W. Bush in two-on the one side, the conservative isolationists, who believe that we must reject internationalism in all forms, and eschew intervention or “911 missions” at all costs-and on the other side, the conservative internationalists, who by this excellent account have both a pragmatic and realistic grasp of the lessons of history, of the shrinking globe that we find in the present, and of the speed with which “regional” threats can become global challenges.The two introductory contributions, one on the national interest and global responsibility, the other on the differences between conservative isolationists and conservative internationalists and all others, are extraordinarily essential readings for anyone who hopes to understand the early days-and contradictory signals-of the next Administration. Individual chapters by very well-qualified experts cover the conservative internationalist view of China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Europe and NATO, Asian Allies, and Israel. More general chapters address the decline of America’s armed forces and the strategic case for dealing with weapons proliferation. The book concludes with three truly essential readings for any citizen, student, businessman, bureaucrat, or policymaker: on morality and foreign policy by William Bennett, on statesmanship in the new century by Paul Wolfowitz, and on strength and will in historical perspective by Donald Kagan.

Well-footnoted and indexed, this is a very serious professional contribution to the rather lackluster national discussion about where our national security and foreign policy should be going. As one who previously advocated a change from 2+ major regional conflicts (MRC) to 1 MRC and three separate forces for dealing with crime, environmental and cultural movements, and electronic and economic warfare (1+iii), I am now fully persuaded, mostly by the Kagan’s book “While America Sleeps” but also by this book, that we absolutely must go toward a 2+iii national security strategy.

My one concern about this book is that it completely ignores what is quaintly called Program 150-all that State Department, Peace Corps, Agency for International Development stuff. It also mentions intelligence and counterintelligence only in passing. Conservative internationalists clearly have the brain power and the strategic vision and the historical understanding to be vital protectors of America’s interests, but they must expand their vision to go beyond guns and consider the potential contributions of both diplomatic and economic butter, and applied intelligence. There is in fact a need to have a very strong Presidential program that fully advances, in an integrated fashion, American investments in diplomacy, defense, transnational crime fighting, economic assistance including a Digital Marshall Plan, and cultural exchanges worthy of a great Nation. This book lacks an appreciation for all the “soft” stuff, but it covers three of the four bases very nicely. A “strong buy.”

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