The Jungle Grows Back by Robert Kagan

The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World

The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World by Robert Kagan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As always, letting you know where I sit before you know where I stand – Retired DoD analyst, Ph.D. in international relations, currently teaching security studies at university.

First, nothing that Kagan says is really surprising to anyone that has been paying attention over the last thirty years. The Cold War ended and, with the exception of the 1990s, didn’t have the results that everyone hoped for. Even Fukuyama has taken back his statement that we have reached the end of history. Where Kagan excels is walking those that are not familiar with the history, such as most of my students, or were not observing them through this period. He notes that despite the optimism expressed by the end of the Cold War, it had the roots of September 11th, Russian revanchism and the rise of populism.

Second, although Kagan never specifically calls it such, his argument is well grounded in liberal international relations theory and the idea of the role of the hegemon (makes and enforces the rules). In this, he is line with American political scientist, Joseph Nye’s THE PARADOX OF AMERICAN POWER and the British historian, Niall Ferguson’s, COLOSSUS, both of which talked about the necessity of there being a state that is willing to absorb the cost of maintaining the system and fighting the forces of illiberalism. (A side note, another author, Zakaria, noted in the 1990s the possible rise of illiberal democracies.)

Finally, he makes what will be an unpopular argument for a more activist and militant US foreign policy and what it means if the US continues the retreat into isolationism that started with the Obama Administration.





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