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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 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 necessary. Tracing 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.


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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 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 necessary. Tracing 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.

30 review for Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    This is a neo-conservative text through and through (I mean actually neo-conservative, not just throwing the term around.) It is well written and many of the points made can't be argued, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth by the end. Kagan seems to think that the U.S. not only should, but is perfectly able to project military power anywhere at anytime and alone if necessary. It's hard not to get the feeling that he doesn't consider a diplomatic victory or a political one a possibility. This is a neo-conservative text through and through (I mean actually neo-conservative, not just throwing the term around.) It is well written and many of the points made can't be argued, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth by the end. Kagan seems to think that the U.S. not only should, but is perfectly able to project military power anywhere at anytime and alone if necessary. It's hard not to get the feeling that he doesn't consider a diplomatic victory or a political one a possibility. it all seems to be about how big your arsenal is and how much balls you've got to use it. It follows that if Europe wants the U.S. to fight under the guise of "international law" (which I agree with him is a bunch of hot air) that is because they are doing their best to have leverage on us because they are so weak and we are so strong, militarily. It follows from this that they are weak because we have been protecting them for so long with our military power allowing them to build a "paradise" of social programs with the money they would otherwise have to build weapons with. So then it is our responsibility to go about things unilaterally because we alone are keeping the western world safe, we alone know what is best for the world, and we alone have the ability to make it happen. This book was written in 2003. I believe that any reasonable person who reads this book now, ten years later, can see how dangerous and absolutely wrong these ideas have proven to be. Fighting Afghanistan and Iraq have the U.S. reeling. Clearly fighting both of these wars was NOT something we were able to do, let alone going all out against vague enemies like "evil doers" and "terrorists" around the globe. In the end his analysis of the distinctions between Europe and the U.S. and how they came about is very informative and thought provoking, but beyond that, it's dangerous trash. P.S. I also found that with all the history invoked throughout that Vietnam was hardly mentioned. This is revealing. As with most political writing the authors views are most easily revealed in what they DO NOT say.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eivind

    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, 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 more 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 more 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    My Pseudonym

    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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    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 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    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!

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    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 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Antigone

    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 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    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 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 more 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 more thorough. So I give it a 4: worth the frustrations.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    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 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    A hought-provoking quick read. I thought this was a really interesting book at the time that I read it; it speculates that the reason that Europe is so much less warlike and more socialist than the USA is that they don't spend ANY money on defense any more (knowing that the USA is spending a fortune). They know the USA will protect them if the shit really hits the fan, so they have been able to spend their entire budgets on other things since WWII; Kagan's implication is that Europe is a little A hought-provoking quick read. I thought this was a really interesting book at the time that I read it; it speculates that the reason that Europe is so much less warlike and more socialist than the USA is that they don't spend ANY money on defense any more (knowing that the USA is spending a fortune). They know the USA will protect them if the shit really hits the fan, so they have been able to spend their entire budgets on other things since WWII; Kagan's implication is that Europe is a little naive about their ability to function sans military. I need to go back and re-read this, because I suspect that it oversimplifies a lot, and I am no longer as conservative politically as I was in 2003.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John-paul Pagano

    Another sacred text of modern neoconservatism, this one merits the derision it has attracted. It's not terrible or completely off-base, and it's short, but it's the type of book that interested social scientists, in addition to Europeans and left-of-center folks, will hate, because it leverages history, politics and culture to render a cottage psychoanalysis of Europeans that is by equal terms sweeping and unsupported by data.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Mak

    Let me save you some time. The theme of the book is thus: “America is confident and strong. Europe is fearful and weak. America has by far the biggest stick. Consequently, by might and therefore by right, America can be, and is, the biggest dick.” His biggest gripe against all these other weaklings is their question of “How will the sole superpower be controlled?” Perhaps he should watch Batman vs Superman? (Which coped out by (a) posting Superman is inherently good, and (b) posing an even bigger Let me save you some time. The theme of the book is thus: “America is confident and strong. Europe is fearful and weak. America has by far the biggest stick. Consequently, by might and therefore by right, America can be, and is, the biggest dick.” His biggest gripe against all these other weaklings is their question of “How will the sole superpower be controlled?” Perhaps he should watch Batman vs Superman? (Which coped out by (a) posting Superman is inherently good, and (b) posing an even bigger threat in the form of Doomsday.) While Kagan did not say so outright, his answer is that the USA need not, and ought not, be controlled. See theme above. One telling example is Kagan’s depiction of the International Criminal Court. From his telling of it, he considered the ICC a hindrance to American ability to act (i.e. American unilateralism, which somehow everyone must implicitly accept as being right), and that the iCC’s proclaimed goal of enforcing international law merely being a manifestation of a weak Europe, prompted n by their misguided reliance on rules and order. Another example is Kagan’s casual declaration of the death of the Westphalian system, i.e. the death of national sovereignty (and somewhat legitimizing the misplaced concept of “sub-sovereignty”), in support of the pre-emptive strike doctrine (which he correctly calls “preventive”). It reads less like an actual belief than an attempt to justify what can only be called an American hegemony. He did not, and did not care to, work through the implications of that declaration, which contradict his assumptions about America’s place in the world (e.g. as a sovereign nation, as being inherently “good”, etc.). Fifteen years after publication, this book has, ironically, aged well. It reads at once like a Trumpian foreign policy bible and, despite Kagan’s assertion of a unipolar world, a somewhat accurate description of today’s multipolar world. Not because Kagan got his facts right. Far from it. It has aged well because of things he barely mentioned: the rise of a China who is more than willing to throw its weight (both economic and military) around, the spectre of a Cold War USSR that refuses to die, America’s (specifically, Trump’s) eagerness to tear down any and all international institutions. With so many other nations willing to flout the “international order” (which has been, as many Asian countries are fond to point out, established by “the West”), sole reliance on rules and institution is no longer sufficient. But that is giving him too much credit. After all, if a scholar happened upon the correct conclusion by way of a misguided argument and being borne out by subsequent, unpredicted events, it merely speak to his luck, not his scholarship.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Arian Ghorbani

    Before I get into the actual review, I've seen a few other reviews of this essay, and I must say, the amount of insecurity and demagoguery present in the majority of negative reviews is enormous. The essay gives an excellent argument, and defends it clearly. None of the holier-than-thou reviews shown here have served to debunk it in any fashion, instead branding it as "neoconservative propaganda" and waving it away in disgust. The book in no way shows any bias for or against America or Europe, Before I get into the actual review, I've seen a few other reviews of this essay, and I must say, the amount of insecurity and demagoguery present in the majority of negative reviews is enormous. The essay gives an excellent argument, and defends it clearly. None of the holier-than-thou reviews shown here have served to debunk it in any fashion, instead branding it as "neoconservative propaganda" and waving it away in disgust. The book in no way shows any bias for or against America or Europe, instead attempting (quite successfully, in my view) a neutral analysis of the place of each political bloc in the new world order. Any claim that this is a nationalistic piece of propaganda clearly did not read the parts claiming European superiority in social policy and moral standing, or the entire beginning tearing into American amorality in international affairs. It is an overall neutral piece with a hopefully written ending, and any claims otherwise are born from incredible insecurity over meaningless politicking. Robert Kagan's perception of where the world would be politically today was clearly, deeply flawed in retrospect. However, despite these flaws, the overall sentiment of his essay here was powerful in message and concise in telling. In "Of Paradise and Power", Kagan describes a world in which the European Miracle has created a microcosm of social paradise in Europe, where peace springs eternal and the social outdoes the military. However, this miracle cannot survive without being granted an incubated space. The guard for this space, it turns out, is the United States. The claims of the United States being some barbaric nation as compared to those of Europe is not entirely inaccurate, Kagan claims, but rather an incomplete picture - instead, the United States is required to remain in its barbaric position in order to protect the European Miracle from an equally barbaric world. This argument is well thought out and defended, despite some inaccurate predictions of current day. This book serves to provide a look into the evolving view of American hegemony with the turn of the century, and despite clear flaws, is still powerful in its message to this day.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Murphy

    Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan reads a bit like an extra long chapter of a book that was being written on American or Western approaches to international relations. The book carries with it the presupposition that you are familiar with the history of the international order and of the current policy debates that are ongoing about the role of the US and Europe on the world stage. This book is thus an answer to a debate that a number of people may Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order by Robert Kagan reads a bit like an extra long chapter of a book that was being written on American or Western approaches to international relations. The book carries with it the presupposition that you are familiar with the history of the international order and of the current policy debates that are ongoing about the role of the US and Europe on the world stage. This book is thus an answer to a debate that a number of people may stumble into unwittingly. That said, the answer is a good one. Europe, as a protected continent, has pursued a very different form of power on the world stage - particularly through its lack of power. This chaffs with the American use of power. Europe desires to make America a firmly multilateral actor, while America desires the freedom to move when necessary. The "West" is close to each other, but they must not be conflated with each other. Kagan wonders if the aftermath of the Cold War had resulted in the great project that made the world system will fall into disunion and disrepair. It comments on the different attitudes and politics of both nations, and there's a weirdly Nietzschean vibe you can grab from the text, if Kagan himself limits himself to less controversial characters, like Hobbes. Its a fairly persuasive essay, and it won't take too long read. Go for it when you get the chance, particularly if you have neoconservative leanings. 86/100

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Quite a small book. Honestly, things written in the book are interesting. I agree with a lot of it and it's a nice way to show true differences between America and Europe. With that being said, this book is old and quite irrelevant in 2018. European thinking about security has changed over the past few years with terrorist attacks, and Europe's struggling with nations that just want to act on their own. They lack experience, will and means to deal with these new issues. America has stayed the Quite a small book. Honestly, things written in the book are interesting. I agree with a lot of it and it's a nice way to show true differences between America and Europe. With that being said, this book is old and quite irrelevant in 2018. European thinking about security has changed over the past few years with terrorist attacks, and Europe's struggling with nations that just want to act on their own. They lack experience, will and means to deal with these new issues. America has stayed the same, with exception that China is growing stronger and stronger in every sense. One thing I did not like is how the author explains that americans are idealists that believe in freedom and how they want the best for the world but know that they can get that with guns. Is it seriously possible to say that their military actions in every part of the world were because they wanted good for the people or is it because they had a lot to gain? If they were such true idealist, people in those countries would now live in modern functioning societies not in ruins where there is no law and guerillas are fight for power. With that being said, I feel this is a book for somebody who is interested more in "past times". If you need something newer, just skip.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    One of the most vacuous and inane readings I have ever had the displeasure to lay my eyes on. Before even starting to discuss any merits of what Kagan is positing, one has has to recall the ludicrous and self-aggrandizing trend, popular among Washington insiders, to write books about topics that could be much better organized into succint papers. But why write a concise, on-the-point article if you can write an entire book rife with bloviating and vapid sentences that add nothing to your One of the most vacuous and inane readings I have ever had the displeasure to lay my eyes on. Before even starting to discuss any merits of what Kagan is positing, one has has to recall the ludicrous and self-aggrandizing trend, popular among Washington insiders, to write books about topics that could be much better organized into succint papers. But why write a concise, on-the-point article if you can write an entire book rife with bloviating and vapid sentences that add nothing to your argument? I wanted to cry reading every sentence after sentence; the only reason I persevered is my pet peeve of not letting books go only partially read. When it comes to the actual argument, do not expect more than a sophomoric analysis and superficial knowledge of facts and figures discussed. I refuse to believe Kagan is that stupid as to pen this, so I naturally assume this book is just a propaganda piece written for high school students and not for anyone who understands the basic phenomena of human history. Be safe and stay clear of this drivel!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tor Andreas S. Grønning

    A short and precise description of why the US and Europe have diverged in recent decades. He explains why the USA are more likely to use military force than europeans (because they can) and why Europe are more inclined to seek solutions based on dialogue (because they can't use military force). Kagan rightly points to the different world perspectives as a problem; but, I do not think he fully understands what must be done to reverse this trend. His neoconservative approach to geopolitics makes A short and precise description of why the US and Europe have diverged in recent decades. He explains why the USA are more likely to use military force than europeans (because they can) and why Europe are more inclined to seek solutions based on dialogue (because they can't use military force). Kagan rightly points to the different world perspectives as a problem; but, I do not think he fully understands what must be done to reverse this trend. His neoconservative approach to geopolitics makes him vulnerable; relative power and security measurements overshadows the importance of differences in cultural and national perspectives and motives. The book does a fine job in describing why the US has acted the way it has since Bush I.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matt Gosney

    An American apologist view of America vs Europe foreign relations. It tries to sound understanding of the view the rest of the world has of America by saying that America does care about how it is perceived. What it also does is blame 'Berlin' and 'Paris' for their inability to talk sense into Washington, trying to blame others for the reasons why America goes around the UN security council and just does what it wants. He justifies that America does whatever it wants because it has to. Its An American apologist view of America vs Europe foreign relations. It tries to sound understanding of the view the rest of the world has of America by saying that America does care about how it is perceived. What it also does is blame 'Berlin' and 'Paris' for their inability to talk sense into Washington, trying to blame others for the reasons why America goes around the UN security council and just does what it wants. He justifies that America does whatever it wants because it has to. Its well-written and researched, it can be seen why some people might get sucked into believing his points of view.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tucker

    This short book was written in early 2003 before the Iraq War started, and this edition includes a long afterword by the author that was added a year later. Makes good points about the differences between Europe and the United States, including the psychological principle that we see the challenges and threats to which we are able and willing to respond while tending to ignore or deny unactionable information. Thus Europe focuses more on the sorts of problems that are best solved through This short book was written in early 2003 before the Iraq War started, and this edition includes a long afterword by the author that was added a year later. Makes good points about the differences between Europe and the United States, including the psychological principle that we see the challenges and threats to which we are able and willing to respond while tending to ignore or deny unactionable information. Thus Europe focuses more on the sorts of problems that are best solved through diplomacy while the US is more likely to perceive threats that can be addressed through military response.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Reyn

    Kagan, Robert, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order. Gelezen: 2003. Cijfer: 9.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    Published in 2003, as the United States went into Iraq without the approval of the likes of France and Germany, Kagan argued in this short book that America and Europe were on fundamentally different courses, both strategically and ideologically, and that the end of the Cold War and the rise of the European Union have made longstanding cultural and political differences between the two powers all the more salient. Some of the points contained herein: 1.) Europe sees itself inhabiting a Kantian Published in 2003, as the United States went into Iraq without the approval of the likes of France and Germany, Kagan argued in this short book that America and Europe were on fundamentally different courses, both strategically and ideologically, and that the end of the Cold War and the rise of the European Union have made longstanding cultural and political differences between the two powers all the more salient. Some of the points contained herein: 1.) Europe sees itself inhabiting a Kantian world of perpetual peace through the rule of international institutions, in which disputes are settled through such means as dialogue or the use of economic or political incentives. The United States inhabits something more like the Hobbesian state of nature, where martial strength and the willingness to use it are the only means for peace and security. 2.) Europeans have a greater tolerance for threats to its security, and the existence of "bad actors". This is the product of a long history in which the European powers have had to contend with one-another's ambitions and the precarious European balance of power. France and Britain have had to contend with a strong Germany on their doorstep, western Europeans have had to live with the Warsaw Pact, etc. Americans don't like ambiguities or half-measures when approaching foreign affairs. They see their conflicts as manichaean struggles, and desire to see problems resolved and threats neutralized. As an example, the Europeans wanted to gradually increase military pressures on Serbia in the 1990s in order to convince it to change its behavior before much of its infrastructure was destroyed. The United States wanted to use overwhelming force, arguing that when a country commits to the use of force, is should use it quickly and decisively to bring about a conclusion with a limited loss of life. 3.) Europe does not have the capability to project force abroad that the United States does. Thus, they tacitly accept that rogue states in distant places like the Korean Peninsula or the Persian Gulf are American strategic problems rather than European ones, because the United States alone has the capability of deterring and coercing them. When one has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, but it is equally true that when one does not have a hammer, one does not want ANY problem to look like a nail, even if it IS a nail. Europeans believe in using the carrot over the stick because they are strong in their economic and political institutions, but weak in their coercive institutions. 4.) The unity of "the west", has been weakening after the Cold War, precisely because of the triumph of liberal democratic values. Without any great geopolitical or ideological threat on the horizon, Europeans and Americans see little reason to cooperate in order to advance any shared interests. Security has given Europe and America the luxury of drifting apart and concerning themselves with their own affairs. Europe has become more inward-looking, dealing with problems within the EU such as migration, labor issues, political and economic integration, and European citizenship. The United States has pressed forward with its Hobbesian attitudes since the fall of the Soviet Union. Both powers want to apply their contrasting ideological visions as models for the post-Cold War world, leading to friction. Like Kagan's other short work, The End of History and the Return of Dreams, Of Paradise and Power is a concise read that provides some succinct and interesting, if not comprehensive and Earth-shattering, arguments.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Kagan's arguments are clear, easy to read and hard to often hard to argue with - Europe can afford to be from Venus, enjoying as they have US military protection through NATO and massive Cold War spending, and he argues that as Europe's special skills lay in the areas of multilateral Kantian idealism, that of course this effects their determination to see 'issues' to be addressed where the US sees 'threats' to be overcome through power. Kagan is also good in pointing out the intellectual Kagan's arguments are clear, easy to read and hard to often hard to argue with - Europe can afford to be from Venus, enjoying as they have US military protection through NATO and massive Cold War spending, and he argues that as Europe's special skills lay in the areas of multilateral Kantian idealism, that of course this effects their determination to see 'issues' to be addressed where the US sees 'threats' to be overcome through power. Kagan is also good in pointing out the intellectual failings of Europeans' focus on ill defined 'multilateralism'. Does this mean an unreformed UN Security Council, and if so why did this not apply during the Kosovo actions, and does it not give China and Russia a veto over Western action? However subsequent political and diplomatic developments have not really borne out his arguments. An Obama administration which chooses to engage with its European allies has done much to smooth over the supposed differences in approach, much as the Clinton administration had done previously. Europe and the US are more likely to meet in the middle in their perceptions of common security threats than before, something Kagan predicts was unlikely. But perhaps most significantly, Kagan approaches both US and EU foreign policy making from a monolithic elite-driven point of view. As we are seeing in the current presidential election, other, more dangerous, less informed views have been bubbling under, and american exceptionalism, and the tendency to perceive all issues as military threats (instead of addressing, say, issues before they become threats) can lead the US down some very dark and incorrect paths. Either way, this is a very enjoyable and readable polemic that really challenged some of my thinking on the issue, and made for a perfect holiday read for this European in the US!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vheissu

    Kagan's book is a spot-on realist assessment of U.S.-European relations at the beginning of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Militarily impotent Europe could afford to be idealistic about the rule of international law as long as an overbearing hegemon, the United States, kept the bad guys at bay. As a prediction of U.S.-European relations, however, Kagan's book demonstrates the limitations of realist theory and its usefulness as a predictor of state behavior. Simply put, the Kagan's book is a spot-on realist assessment of U.S.-European relations at the beginning of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Militarily impotent Europe could afford to be idealistic about the rule of international law as long as an overbearing hegemon, the United States, kept the bad guys at bay. As a prediction of U.S.-European relations, however, Kagan's book demonstrates the limitations of realist theory and its usefulness as a predictor of state behavior. Simply put, the United States has not achieved or even attempted to achieve global dominance, as its weak-kneed response in Ukraine and Georgia before that illustrate. Perhaps this is attributable to the idiosyncrasies of the Obama administration, although I tend to doubt it (South Ossetia and Abkhazia happened on the watch of Bush the Second). There are limits to America's power and the willingness of the American people to finance global empire. The United States is out-gunned by Russia in the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, and even the Arctic Ocean; the United States, by contrast, has staked its claim to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific, although China threatens U.S. dominance in the China Sea. This does not mean that Russia and the United States are likely to fight each other in the near future, but it does seem that spheres of influence again characterize the international system.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I found this book strangely interesting, albeit slightly biased and wordy at times. The relationship between the US and Europe is something that can only be understood by looking at the history between the two; something Kagan does relatively well. Europe, with the help of a powerful America, has been able to develop into the "paradise" while America remains the "power" that some (including Kagan) would say enables Europe to grow and solidify. It basically seems to me like a catch-22 for America. I found this book strangely interesting, albeit slightly biased and wordy at times. The relationship between the US and Europe is something that can only be understood by looking at the history between the two; something Kagan does relatively well. Europe, with the help of a powerful America, has been able to develop into the "paradise" while America remains the "power" that some (including Kagan) would say enables Europe to grow and solidify. It basically seems to me like a catch-22 for America. People will have a problem with the government's use of power to challenge threats but would similarly have a problem with a more isolationist and quiet America. Kagan does well to outline the immediate problem for Europe and the rest of the world in the added appendix. With an America increasingly comfortable using its power to protect and secure its own interests, rather than its past work to rebuild and protect Europe, who is or will be in a position to challenge them? Its a fear that I, even as an American, can understand.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    It's always gratifying to read a book that you agree 100% with. This essay on US transatlantic relationships and policy making is right on the money. Kagan pulls no punches in this one and his simple fact-of-the-matter rationale is hard to argue with and clear cut. But just because he calls out Europe for exactly what they have been and are, he does it without getting nasty and schoolyardish about it. Which is refreshing in these times of O-Reilly and Heraldo. Kagan acurately outlines why US It's always gratifying to read a book that you agree 100% with. This essay on US transatlantic relationships and policy making is right on the money. Kagan pulls no punches in this one and his simple fact-of-the-matter rationale is hard to argue with and clear cut. But just because he calls out Europe for exactly what they have been and are, he does it without getting nasty and schoolyardish about it. Which is refreshing in these times of O-Reilly and Heraldo. Kagan acurately outlines why US foreign policy is what it is and why it will remain so. That is until someone else becomes king of the hill. His parallels between Europe's historical actions and the US's current endeavors are clear and factual. It's refreshing to read something on US policy that's not filled with the boasting and grandstanding that all of today's political books are filled with. Kagan is the political science professor you'll wish you had in school and this book won't disappoint any reader. Whether you agree with him or not.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    An absolutely amazing analysis of U.S.-European relations that is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 2003. Although short, that doesn't stop Kagan from delivering a deep and insightful look into the different ways the U.S. and Europe perceive their roles in the world, the means by which they wish to achieve their objectives, and how they both try to achieve those objectives, with the obvious frictions that it has caused between the two powers. He also clearly shows how An absolutely amazing analysis of U.S.-European relations that is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 2003. Although short, that doesn't stop Kagan from delivering a deep and insightful look into the different ways the U.S. and Europe perceive their roles in the world, the means by which they wish to achieve their objectives, and how they both try to achieve those objectives, with the obvious frictions that it has caused between the two powers. He also clearly shows how the U.S. has, accidentally or intentionally, created a situation where Europe is more concerned with the processes of international law than the results they are suppose to achieve. He also brilliantly turn the "America can't go it alone" argument completely on its head. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable book that should be both required reading and beloved by all, general readers and foreign policy junkies alike.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kanya

    I picked up this book because it was recommended by YWAM's strategic director, whom I met two years ago. This book made me realize how much weight and influence AMERICA can have politically and religiously in the world. Being here for so long and being attracted to European views of things, I think I forgot to take heed of all the resources we have and how we CAN choose to use them. Though we have been such the bad guy in international realms lately, this book made me have even higher hopes for I picked up this book because it was recommended by YWAM's strategic director, whom I met two years ago. This book made me realize how much weight and influence AMERICA can have politically and religiously in the world. Being here for so long and being attracted to European views of things, I think I forgot to take heed of all the resources we have and how we CAN choose to use them. Though we have been such the bad guy in international realms lately, this book made me have even higher hopes for the US and it made me proud that we are in such an influential position. This book lays out the differences that Europe and America has, so it helped me understand why THEY are they way they are, which makes total sense. The countries in Europe have so much accountability to each other (with the exception of Britain, of course), whereas we have been a much bigger island that we realize. In light of the comraderie we should be having in these times, I am all for the unity.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bill Sleeman

    As always Kagen is thought-provoking and challenging. This short essay proposes that Europe has moved beyond (or perhaps, at least, away from…) America in their reaction to power and diplomacy and the application of both for international problem solving. I wonder though, since this book dates from the George W. Bush years, how he might square his understanding of Europe now with the ideas proposed in this book? Is Europe really ready - and willing- to stand on its own (ala’ Briexit and a As always Kagen is thought-provoking and challenging. This short essay proposes that Europe has moved beyond (or perhaps, at least, away from…) America in their reaction to power and diplomacy and the application of both for international problem solving. I wonder though, since this book dates from the George W. Bush years, how he might square his understanding of Europe now with the ideas proposed in this book? Is Europe really ready - and willing- to stand on its own (ala’ Briexit and a general failure to unify in the face of Russian aggression)? Still, this is a useful piece and a good starting point to understanding why America and Europe, long allies, may inevitably drift apart even without a push from the current leadership in the United States.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vivek

    This book does a good job explaining some of the tensions between the United States and Europe, and seems especially relevant after the American invasion of Iraq. Kagan explains that the current split between the US and Europe stems from America's role as the sole superpower (along with the ability to act unilaterally for its own interests when necessary) and the European desire to exercise some control over that power. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in understanding This book does a good job explaining some of the tensions between the United States and Europe, and seems especially relevant after the American invasion of Iraq. Kagan explains that the current split between the US and Europe stems from America's role as the sole superpower (along with the ability to act unilaterally for its own interests when necessary) and the European desire to exercise some control over that power. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in understanding transatlantic relations. Don't be turned off by Kagan's political views - I am a liberal, but appreciate Kagan's analysis of the American-European relations and his clear explanation of how the current state came about.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tiina

    Interesting, though simplified. In such a short text simplifying is necessary. Now I want to read more on the subject. This is an interesting introduction, with some bias, and I'll balance it with other stuff. It's also interesting to read opinions from almost 10 years ago and realize how much has changed and how things did not turn out the way people thought. America is still in Iraq, the country's politics are crazier than ever, there was the recession, EU is ... I don't know what we're doing, Interesting, though simplified. In such a short text simplifying is necessary. Now I want to read more on the subject. This is an interesting introduction, with some bias, and I'll balance it with other stuff. It's also interesting to read opinions from almost 10 years ago and realize how much has changed and how things did not turn out the way people thought. America is still in Iraq, the country's politics are crazier than ever, there was the recession, EU is ... I don't know what we're doing, Russia does what it wants... So it goes.

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