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This book gets two stars over one because it was easy to read, quick, and it does a good job of explaining the view points of a certain group of people Unfortunately, that group of people often include key decision makers in the USG.Kagan s argument, in Of Paradise and Power, can be summarized in saying that the interests and inclinations of America and Europe have diverged Europe prefers to avoid the use of force, due to their inherent weakness, while the United States is inclined to use force, because it must The argument is not convincing and his supporting data is often inaccurate and biased There is an element of truth to the main themes of what he argues, however the subjective approach and disregard of any data that does not support his argument is unhelpful I agree with Kagan s main point that the interests and inclinations of the United States and Europe have diverged He makes a good case for describing how Europe prefers to avoid the use of force, while it is an increasingly American tendency I disagree with the analysis that he makes to explain these conclusions In fairness, the book was written before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were able to fully play out, and the failures of U.S intelligence and application of force, with the neglect of soft power advocated by the Europeans, was not yet evident. I think it s not too much to say that this book revolutionized my understanding of the meta level of foreign policy, especially as it concerns the EU, the USA and their partnership It explains very well the thinking among an influential group of American policymakers A must read A book basically comparing the size of America s dong to Europe s by a neocon crusader steeped in the blood of the Iraqi people. Robert Kagan s brilliant and concise book analyze the differences between how the US and Europe have come to see international politics He was writing during 2002 and 2003 in the midst of a transatlantic dispute over the Iraq War Kagan contends that this dispute was not just about Iraq, but that it reflected deeper political and philosophical differences that mostly relate to power He contends that the disparity of power and different views of power are at the heart of the increasing divergence in foreign policy between the US and Europe.This book had many insightful points, so I ll just recount a few that stood out to me The US and Europe clearly have had a vast military power gap since the end of WWII Europe seemed willing to tolerate threats like Iraq and to deal with them through persuasion, pressure, containment, and incentives The US, however, had a much lower threat tolerance, which seems to make less sense on the surface because the US was so powerful Kagan uses a cutting analogy to connect power to threat tolerance Let s say you are in the woods armed only with a knife, and there s a bear prowling around You will probably lie low because the alternative of hunting the bear and seeking confrontation is riskier than evasion and self defense Now let s say you have a rifle If you have so much power, why should you tolerate a threat to your security The logic here dictates that the person with power will seek confrontation in order to eliminate threats it feels it would rather not tolerate The first person is Europe, and the second is the US As a much weaker power, Europe avoids conflict and focuses on self defense In contrast, the vastly powerful US seeks to eliminate threats because its power has changed its psychology Also, the fact that the US has become the global cop in so many regions means that the backlash of terrorism is pointed at America, so Europe has much less to be worried about.Another crucial point is that the Europeans see themselves as building a Kantian liberal international order within Europe in which the use of force is strongly discouraged Kogan says that the establishment of a rules based, integrated, peaceful, and functional European system is possibly the greatest accomplishment ever in international politics The French lamb has settled down with the German lion, and war between the powers of Europe seems highly unlikely The Europeans tend to criticize the US for its unilateral streak and its willingness to use force and sometimes bend international law for security reasons Kagan points out that the European criticism is highly ironic because one of the essential reasons the Europeans have created a Kantian system is that the Americans continue to live and act in a Hobbesian one The US and the USSR vanquished Nazi Germany and made the postwar order possible The US cast a security umbrella over Western Europe that guaranteed everyone s security, reducing fear between France and Germany to the point where they could integrate and become friends The US continues to enforce international law and address threats inside and outside of Europe, but in order to make the liberal European order it has to, or at least thinks it has to, flex military muscles often than Europeans find appropriate He suggests that Americans and Europeans should get used to this double standard of American behavior They will probably be able to be Kantian in the zone of paradise, but a mix of Kantian and Hobbesian in the anarchic zones of power The US is the guardian of the gates of paradise, but cannot fully enter The growing enmity between the US and Europe comes from the fact that the Europeans see the US use of force and unilateralism as a threat to their system, which is based strictly on law, economic integration, and diplomacy Thus in the lead to Iraq we saw Britain, France, and Germany all trying to reign in the US in different ways, which was hell bent on erasing the Iraqi threat Even before I read this book, I have long puzzled over the Kagan line America did not change on September 11 It only became itself What exactly is this self Kagan sees the American character as so fundamentally idealistic that we can t, or don t, separate ideology from interest We have always been about expanding the circle of liberty and democracy, for better or worse But mostly better, especially in the 20th century We have consistently identified our interests with the freedom and prosperity of others in ways that make it seem worth fighting for democracy in far flung places like Iraq and Vietnam After 9 11, Kagan says we only accelerated our tendency to see the world in these terms and our willingness to use force to eliminate threats to liberty democracy capitalism and expand that circle I am personally skeptical of this notion because of the peculiarities of the Bush administration, but I find it fascinating nonetheless Kagan does not evaluate the wisdom or morality of this tendency, but he asserts that it is hard to deny I found a lot of parallels here with Cayton and Anderon s The Dominion of War and Suri s Liberty s Surest Guardian To some extent, there is a big question mark surrounding this book After 9 11, in the period of immense sympathy for the US in Europe, could the US have built a broad and militarily potent coalition to address threats like terrorism, WMD, and rogue states Supposedly pacifistic nations like France seemed willing to step up and help the US However, we never really asked The Bush administration eschewed foreign help in Afghanistan and killed any possibility of a broad coalition by breaking international law repeatedly and shifting the focus of the War on Terror to Iraq So who knows Maybe the structural and philosophical differences Kagan points out in this book really aren t that deep, and the mundane answer relates to the mistakes of fallible and contextual human beings Maybe a different president would have used the post 9 11 moment not to build a campaign against Iraq but to build a united coalition of nations to combat a common threat Kagan s story fits well with the history that happened, but it sometimes feels a little too grand and deterministic to be the answer.I hope the length of my review convinces you that this is worth a read It will seriously take about 2 hours I ve honestly spent time thinking about it than reading it It is certainly a product of his age, and Kagan has been wrong about many claims in this book He tends to paint in overly broad strokes, but there s something to his major claims Btw I thought it was kind of funny that this book had basically the same message as Lt Nathan Jessup s speech at the end of a Few Good Men Check it out. Robert Kagan s famous essay is a thoughtful, thorough and, at times, incendiary exploration of the strains currently existing among the countries that compose the West The author brings these tensions to light by drawing out the distinct philosophical disparities between Europe s steadfast aim toward a negotiated paradise of perpetual peace and America s conviction of the continuing necessity for and use of military power How can these perspectives coalesce into a unified approach to foreign policy The first step would have to be to air those differences in an attempt to understand them.There are those who resist such discussions In fact, it might be time to draw attention to the bewildering number of people who appear to believe that if we cannot have a perfect conversation we should have no conversation at all The perfect conversation would be, of course, one in which you are a absolutely correct in everything you say, b persuasive enough to change everyone s mind, c powerful enough to effect immediate change and d assured that whenever anyone references this conversation in the future he she will be compelled to admit how astonishingly brilliant you are Well, that s conversational nirvana and about as rarely sighted as a wild white elephant in the modern day Hindu Kush Most of us are stuck in the standard communicative muddle, attempting to make the best of ill chosen words, thorny facts and a point that s clearly been cobbled together on the instinctive fly That muddle is what we have to work with That muddle is what we have to try.One may not agree with all of Mr Kagan s rhetoric, or anyone s rhetoric for that matter confronting the issue at this juncture is, I believe, important enough And he s certainly done that. This slightly dated analysis of geopolitics in the immediate aftermath of 9 11 and Gulf War II still rings true Kagan has amplified the themes expounded in this book in subsequent writings The World America Made and the Jungle Grows Back.After digesting three of his books, Kagan strikes me as a writer who tends to rant however, this is not to deny the plausibility and merits of his theses You won t find a wealth of footnotes His writings seem loosely organized, almost like articles written in instalments for Foreign Affairs and Atlantic that were translated into books without much editing None of the books exceeded 200 pages but the writing is tight and focused.Kagan may be open to the charge that he divides the world into neat categories In this book, he applies the old John Locke Thomas Hobbes dichotomy on the state of Nature to modern geopolitics Europe is driven by principles, laws, social compacts and agreements The US is driven by raw power, competition and domination Kagan offers a fairly convincing argument Unlike many current political writers, Kagan forgoes extended, well documented explanations that substantiate his conclusions He tosses off opinions and insights and lets the reader react.Kagan is dismissed by some rival pundits as a narrow minded, doctrinaire neo conservative but his message warrants a close reading His opinions belong in the current debate And much written in Of Paradise and Power has come to pass and remains relevant.Disclaimer the author s father Donald is a distinguished Classics scholar at Yale whose MOOC on Ancient Greece is one of my favorites Admittedly, it may have favorably affected my review of Kagan fils. Very Realistic, worth reading Discussion Beyond Paradise and Power. This book is a review of the differences between American and European views of international power politics, which derive from their different histories and their relative power I am only roughly familiar with world politics a news listener but not an expert or a political junkie For me the book is a 5 for interest and usefulness, because it is thought provoking, readable, informative, and relevant to important matters, about like a stimulating magazine article or TED talk But this book is also a 3 for presentation, because it is repetitious, several points could have used explanation, and the footnoting for quotes or details seems haphazard It emerged from a journal article and seems to have been expanded too far too fast a book length treatment should have been thorough So I give it a 4 worth the frustrations. I m not giving a star rating for this one You see, I d need to give it two distinct ones for my review to make any sense.Is this a fair and balanced account of the differences between America and Europe when it comes to foreign policy No Not even close It s a book length defence of Americas policy and a book length critique of everything the author perceives as wrong with Europe, and when it comes down to it, the entire book can be summarized as Europe should double it s military budget, and be much willing to use it aggressively outside their own territory, the way USA does If judged as an attempt at what the book title and the cover claims it s going to do, namely to contrast and compare, naming advantages and disadvantages of both approaches, this book is a failure 1 star It also does not help that the book, despite its shortness, has an AMAZING number of repetitions Europe is weak , USA is strong he says I ran grep on the book, he uses the word weak 1117 times.It s also somewhat amusing to note that he critiques Europe harshly for not propery recognizing the massive threat to the west posed by Saddams weapons of mass destruction Is Iraq today a bigger or a smaller threat to the west than it was before the second gulf war The book also suffers from a severe lack of organization It reads like a unstructured ramble Not a series of clearly defined chapters about different aspects, instead you have the feeling that the same points are repeated in every chapter For this reason too 1 star.When the book nevertheless has some value, it s because it offers a glimpse into how hawkish conservatives in USA think It s interesting, not for what he says about foreign policy, but for what the book says about the author, and others like him You don t learn anything worthwhile about foreign policy from this book beyond be militaristic , and that s a sentence, not a book , but if you re unfamiliar with the way neocons in USA think, then it ll teach you, by way of showing an example Judged by this criteria it deserves 3 stars. `READ KINDLE ↬ Of Paradise and Power ↝ At A Time When Relations Between The United States And Europe Are At Their Lowest Ebb Since World War II, This Brief But Cogent Book Is Essential Reading Robert Kagan, A Leading Scholar Of American Foreign Policy, Forces Both Sides To See Themselves Through The Eyes Of The Other Europe, He Argues, Has Moved Beyond Power Into A Self Contained World Of Laws, Rules, And Negotiation, While America Operates In A Hobbesian World Where Rules And Laws Are Unreliable And Military Force Is Often NecessaryTracing How This State Of Affairs Came Into Being Over The Past Fifty Years And Fearlessly Exploring Its Ramifications For The Future, Kagan Reveals The Shape Of The New Transatlantic Relationship The Result Is A Book That Promises To Be As Enduringly Influential As Samuel Huntington S The Clash Of Civilizations