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America at the Crossroads

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America at the Crossroads

Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy

Yale UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

What political theory drove the Iraq War? Did that policy fail? If so, why? In other words, now what?

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


This is a dense book on political theory. It covers the origins and future direction of the neoconservative movement. Primarily a personal essay by analyst (and former neocon supporter) Francis Fukuyama, it meanders, digresses and, at times, makes a call for action. He includes enough academic material to make both interesting and formidable reading, even for those with a serious interest in government. This is not about everyday politics, but about underlying ideas and concepts, although the author does not clearly state what he thinks will happen after the neoconservatives are removed from power – or even how soon, or if, that might happen. He reserves his recommendations for the last chapter, but the book's opaque presentation and unfortunately stilted language blunt his usual bite about the role of the neoconservative movement. getAbstract recommends this book primarily to those who have followed Fukuyama's earlier works or who are very interested in political theory. Serious poli sci students will find it rich and substantive.


Unintended Consequences

After the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks, President George W. Bush made fundamental shifts in U.S. policy and its strategic foreign relations direction. Among other changes, he created the new federal agency of Homeland Security to protect the U.S. and he sent armed forces to depose the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. He adopted a pre-emptive strategy, replacing deterrence and containment with attack. Then he sent troops to invade Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein and prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The first set of actions responded to the al Qaeda attack, but the invasion and pre-emptive doctrine did not. Bush decided to focus on attacking Iraq before the summer of 2002, before extensive U.N. Security Council debate and before weapons inspectors finished their work. Prior to this administration, neoconservatives supported regime change, hegemony, pre-emptive strikes and America's willingness to stand alone. Bush molded many of these policies into his doctrine, but his administration does not reflect the core ideas of neoconservatives. Since the Cold War, neoconservatives have come to believe in democracy, human rights and...

About the Author

Francis Fukuyama is the author of the international bestseller, The End of History, as well as The Last Man, The Great Disruption, Our Posthuman Future and State Building. He is a professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University.

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