Monday, August 16, 2010

Another new book

Now, here is a book that seems worthwhile to read.

The Tragedy of America’s Foreign Policy.
By William Pfaff.
Walker, $25.

Modern history’s most destructive ­upheavals, from the French Revolution to Stalinism, Pfaff says, were incited by a “secular utopianism” that the Enlightenment substituted for religious beliefs. He argues that a variant of this malignant fantasy has now overtaken the American foreign policy establishment. Pfaff, a former columnist for The International Herald Tribune, writes that America has increasingly committed itself to a ­hyper-Wilsonian view, embodied in its assertions, without evidence, that a steady development of international “cooperative institutions” under American leadership is improving “the moral (and political) nature of ­humans.” To Pfaff, only this national myth can fully explain the war on terror, which he calls a “parody of the cold war,” fought against “a few thousand Muslim mujahedeen.” A threat that “good police work” could have contained, he suggests, was instead built up to justify a militarized intensification of the “universal democracy” project. Pfaff’s call for a “noninterventionist alternative” should not be dismissed lightly. But by treating his opponents’ views as fundamentally deluded, he fails to do them justice. There are reasons other than imperial hubris to question Pfaff’s suggestion of an equivalence between aggressive democracy promotion and Nazi and Soviet aggrandizement.

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