Book They consider world power and politics

Book Review: Robert Kagan Paradise and Power- America and Europe in the New World Order.Robert Kagan’s book ‘Paradise and Power’ was a break through in writing concerning the new world order, which has especially developed during and after the Cold War. In the first part of this review, I shall endeavour to summarise the book, focusing on the difference between America and Europe’s worldview’s, and the historical reasoning behind the readjusting of the power balance between Europe and America.

This includes analysing the affect of the Second World War and the Cold War which has lead to America’s power being described as a ‘Hyperpuissance’ a term coined by the French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine, to describe the power of America, which transcended that of a ‘Super Power’ (Kagan 2003 p.43).Subsequent to the summary I should like to focus on an aspect of Kagan’s critique, and attempting to contrast it with a different view.

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Secondly I would like to look at the actual definition of power that Europe has, in comparison to America. Whereas Kagan argues that Europe is weak, their Kantian ‘perpetual peace’ reliant on American military might, Ian Manners prefers to describe Europe’s power as Normative, showing how they have core ideals which they try to pass onto other nations, in order to create a more peaceful world culture based on economic rather than military dominance, democracy and the basic respect for human rights. (Manners 2002) I will conclude by trying to determine whether a more docile approach to foreign policy does equal weakness, as suggested by Kagan, or is there merit in pursuing diplomatic means. Paradise and Power paints a picture of America and Europe, living in two separate worlds with regards to foreign policy. America is depicted as an ardent supporter of ‘hard politics’.

They consider world power and politics to be defined in militaristic terms. They have little patience for diplomacy, and resort to force to resolve International Disputes quickly. They also have a very ‘black and white view of the world’ in that they see elements as ‘good or bad’; ‘friend or enemy’. . It is therefore said that America is living in a Hobbesian state of Anarchy, where freedom can only be protected using brute force and strength (Kagan 2003 p.

4). This has been clearly represented in America’s war with Iraq and the ‘Axis of Evil’ that has been dominating American Foreign Policy discourse since 9/11. This contrasts with a Europe, which is seemingly committed to ‘soft politics, wanting to build a world where economic strength means more than military strength. A world where international institutions and laws- such as those demonstrated by the United Nations, reign supreme over unilateralism and a state-centric view of the world. Finally Europeans wish to spread the core ideals of Democracy, Rule of Law; respect for Human Rights; the ideals of liberty; and the centrality of peace, (Manners 2002) resort to diplomacy rather than force. In short Europe is seemingly living in a Kantian world of ‘perpetual peace’, with no indication of wanting to extend their military capabilities, or return to the state they lived in before WWII. Kagan gives many reason for this change in power balance, however there are three that seemingly stand out.

Firstly historically, Europe has had a bloody and complicated history, littered with wars, feuds and politics. It seems that after so many years of discontent that Europe finally had the opportunity to settle down and exist beyond the realms of power politics (Kagan 2003; pg. 12-13). The second reason is a result of the cold war, which brought about a huge arms race against the Soviet Union for America. With Europe no longer being engaged in any feuds, they felt it unnecessary to rearm and expand their military prospects, and were entirely reliant on America’s military might.

This coupled with the physiological theory that the more power America gains, the more they feel they need to police the world, dealing with every dispute in an aggressive way, has left Europe militarily weak, and their diplomatic ideals undermined. Finally Kagan argues that the world order was in fact America’s intention after WWII, as there was a general feeling that the European system was rotten and Europeans were incubators of their own wars (Kagan 2003; pg 70). Therefore Roosevelt felt he was doing the world a service by weakening them.

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