Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan

Look at the booming economies of China, Russia, India and Japan, and despair, thunders Robert Kagan in this studiedly alarmist tract. Francis Fukuyama's declaration of the end of history proved to be post-cold war wishful thinking, he says, and we are now on the verge of a new showdown between rival nation states. Unfortunately for Kagan, the economic engine driving his whole argument has stalled. Every country he identifies as a threat to US dominance has been crippled by the economic crisis, as has America. In fact, many western economists are counting on China's stymied but relatively strong (and less debt-ridden) economy to help kickstart a global recovery. This is very much a pre-crunch, pre-Obama book. Yet for all Kagan's neocon scaremongering, his message that the world's democracies must organise and work together rings true. Market capitalism may be a busted flush, but keeping our hopes for democracy alive - not only in Russia and China, but closer to home - is more important than ever.

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