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P. 1
The Return of History and the End of Dreams

The Return of History and the End of Dreams

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3.69

(39)
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Published by VintageAnchor
Hopes for a new peaceful international order after the end of the Cold War have been dashed by sobering realities: Great powers are once again competing for honor and influence. The world remains “unipolar,” but international competition among the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Iran raise new threats of regional conflict, and a new contest between western liberalism and the great eastern autocracies of Russia and China has reinjected ideology into geopolitics.For the past few years, the liberal world has been internally divided and distracted by issues both profound and petty. Now, in The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Robert Kagan masterfully poses the most important questions facing the liberal democratic countries, challenging them to choose whether they want to shape history or let others shape it for them.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Hopes for a new peaceful international order after the end of the Cold War have been dashed by sobering realities: Great powers are once again competing for honor and influence. The world remains “unipolar,” but international competition among the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Iran raise new threats of regional conflict, and a new contest between western liberalism and the great eastern autocracies of Russia and China has reinjected ideology into geopolitics.For the past few years, the liberal world has been internally divided and distracted by issues both profound and petty. Now, in The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Robert Kagan masterfully poses the most important questions facing the liberal democratic countries, challenging them to choose whether they want to shape history or let others shape it for them.From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Publish date: Apr 29, 2008
Added to Scribd: May 09, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9780307269447
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bruchu_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
The Goal of Perpetual PeaceIn this short essay, Robert Kagan traces the post-Cold War era through to present and gives his prognosis for "Perpetual Peace" as outlined by 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant.In the first part of "The Return of History", Kagan disputes the Hegelian theory of Francis Fukiyama that history ended with the fall of communism. What emerged instead was a return to the Westphalian realist model of international relations that led to WWI, the rise of nationalism and ultimately the rise of autocracies, the strongest being Russia and China.In the second part, Kagan describes the battle between the democracies and the autocracies. He also extends the "Clash of Civilizations" argument penned by Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis of modern Judeo-Christianity versus backwards Islam.Finally, Kagan ends the book with his prescription of soft-power and an alliance of democracies to defeat the autocracies and establish a true Wilsonian liberal internationalism leading to Kant's "Perpetual Peace".In analysis, Kagan's vision is part Wilsonian and part neorealist. He rejects the idea of positivism, that human progress is inevitable. He believes that traditional state-to-state power relations will continue in the forseeable future (neorealism). And finally Kagan believes that only through liberal democracy can a true international society emerge allowing global capitalism to flourish; where state interests and state-to-state disputes are negotiated peacefully (Kantian).It's hard to argue against the democratic peace theory as democracies have rarely gone to war with one another (Falklands, Spanish-American being exceptions). Kagan is quite right in his characterization and predictions of Russian aggression and potential conflicts involving China. His knowledge of European and American politics is especially strong.The only area where Kagan is perhaps weaker is in Asian politics. For example, he cites on more than one occasion that China and America are headed down the warpath over Taiwan. In fact, the trend towards reconciliation and reunification between China and Taiwan have never been stronger. Official American policy towards China on the Taiwan issue has been moving closer to reunification and not Taiwanese independence ever since the famous Shanghai Communique.Overall, Kagan has written a well-supported thesis on the return of great power politics and goal towards liberal internationalism. No prior knowledge in political science is required as Kagan's writing is colloquial and succinct.
valsmith_1 reviewed this
Although the author and I don't agree politically, I thought Kagan's analysis of the world a sensible one, and on many points in this short work I thought he was totally "spot on."
gsatell_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Very good analysis of cuurent issues in foreign affairs.
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The Return of History and the End of Dreams