America at the crossroads : democracy, power, and the neoconservative legacy

by Francis Fukuyama

Hardcover, 2006




New Haven : Yale University Press, c2006.


Francis Fukuyama's criticism of the Iraq war put him at odds with neoconservatives both within and outside the Bush administration. Here he explains how, in its decision to invade Iraq, the Bush administration failed in its stewardship of American foreign policy, in making preventive war the central tenet of its foreign policy, in misjudging the global reaction to its exercise of "benevolent hegemony," and in failing to appreciate the difficulties involved in large-scale social engineering. Providing a history of neoconservative thought since the 1930s, Fukuyama argues that the movement's legacy is a complex one that can be interpreted quite differently than it was after the end of the Cold War. He proposes a new approach to American foreign policy, in which the positive aspects of the neoconservative legacy are joined with a more realistic view of how to use American power around the world.--From publisher description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member uqbar
(Aug 2006) Fukuyama is most famous for declaring "the end of history" in the 90's, by which he meant that worldwide liberal democracy is an equilibrium state we are quickly approaching. He has served as a kind of independent public spokesman for the neoconservative movement.

I have to admit I got
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this book in the hope of seeing Fukuyama do a bit of back-stabbing, and I wasn't disappointed. He distances himself from Bush's theory of unilateral pre-emption (this is obscured as he tries to draw a fine distinction between 'pre-emptive' and 'preventive' war). He argues that the U.S. should focus on soft power. On the other hand, he continues to believe that U.S. power (applied wisely) is a vital positive influence in world affairs.

Were I more expert in this area I'm sure I would have found much to criticize, but the overall thesis is hard to argue with.

(Incidentally, I read this immediately after Chomsky's Imperial Ambitions, and it was quite a change of pace!)
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LibraryThing member jaygheiser
Very interesting book. Provides insight into Bush administration agendas and activiities that are very different from other sources. Some interesting references, also.
LibraryThing member Periodista
I have read, or attempted to read, other books by Fukuyama. This one strikes me as much more focused, probably draws a lot from his lectures as a professor. If it's been a long time since you took a polysci course, this brings you up to speed on the tenets and practice of neoconservatism,
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realpolitik, etc. and how they have altered in the wake of the Cold War.

Fukuyama used to consider himself a neoconservative. The invasion of Iraq seems to have been a turning point. One of those cases where he didn't stop being a neoconservative in his own eyes (like the Kissinger school historically neoconservatives have been very skeptical about the chances for vast social engineering) but the many neoconservatives veered in another direction. Thus the title I see on some other editions: After the Neocons.

Even if you're not much interested in that vein, if you have any interest in how developing countries can make the transition of industrialization, there's a neat synopsis re how thinking has evolved since the early post-colonial era. How come massive infrastructure worked here but not there? The two tracks of economic development and political/institutional development. Could be be wide ranging, imo, but at least thereare references.
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