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Of Paradise and Power: America Vs. Europe in the New World Order

Robert Kagan

posted on 20 May 2003

reviewed by J. McCauley

This book states the neo-conservative program for America and the world: go-it-alone, shuck your friends and allies, and apply military force liberally. Kagan's prescription for US policy, which apparently is being followed by the Pentagon and other neo-cons in the Bush Administration, can be compared with The Prisoner's Dilemma where the US plays 'defect' and complains that the rest of the world doesn't play 'cooperate'. One can read in Suetonius's 'Lives of the Caesars' how Julius Caesar rewarded his soldiers and attacked his friends as well as his enemies, whenever convenient, always for purely personal gain. According to the neo-cons, this is the right policy for an effectively militarily-unopposed America. Their stated premise is that America does not have the same interests as Europe. This is of course not even close to the truth, but they want to make it true by shucking Europe and misusing military power to enforce their misconception of American ideas on the rest of the world. As Feynman pointed out, social phenomena are not like physics: one can make a wish come true by acting on it. That is, the furure is not 'out there' waiting to be revealed, we instead create it each instant with our actions. Right now, the neo-cons are acting on their wishes and creating a world where power reigns supreme and unopposed. Or so they believe. To be addressed in the next two book reviews: game theory predictions assume a very restricted form of human behavior that is not based on empirics, is therefore nonGalilean in spirit.