Editor’s note: I went back and forth on featuring this book due to Kagan’s known conservative credentials and the books rambling nature. But in the end, two ideas, one past and one future, are powerful. The past is that the United States became “sole world power” somewhat ambivalently. That is, Kagan says, over history we tend to 1. Resist getting engaged in conflict, 2. Engage only when there appears to be a human cost that we feel can no longer be ignored and then 3. We become uncomfortable with the power we’re given by our engagement. The second, far more importantly, is Kagan’s future view from past learning which is that we must decide now not later how to act as one of two or three world powers since we will soon no longer be at the top alone. His conclusion, as noted in the excerpt below, is that this is not a one dimensional issue, as it is so often considered.
Excerpt:“What will this require? Above all, it would mean working to shore up all three pillars – politics, economics and security – of what has made this American age, with all its brutalities, a golden age for humanity. We have a tendency to separate politics, economics and security – “ideals” from “interests,” support for democracy from defense of security – but in the American world order they have all been related.”