When Robert Kagan (shown on right in photo) writes, the Powers That Be in New York and Washington tend to take notice. A contributing editor for the Weekly Standard and The New Republic and a columnist for the Washington Post, Kagan, a historian and policy analyst, was also a co-founder (along with William Kristol) of the Project for the New American Century, a now-defunct but formerly highly influential Washington think tank, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kagan has also served as a foreign policy advisor to various GOP presidential candidates, including, most recently, Mitt Romney, and to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But in addition to his impeccable credentials and establishment connections, Kagan is also a prolific and graceful writer, producing books and articles at regular intervals that focus on the role of the United States in the “new world order” (his terminology). Kagan’s 2003 book Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order attracted considerable attention for its analysis of the differing approaches of the United States and Europe in projecting power worldwide, claiming that Americans tend to favor problem-solving through force whereas Europe preferred peaceful negotiation. More recently, Kagan’s 2012 article in the New Republic “Not Fade Away: The Myth of American Decline” drew plaudits from President Obama and even a rapturous, point-by-point endorsement by the president in a meeting with select members of the media shortly before the 2012 State of the Union address.
Neocon Kagan is, in other words, one of the modern American Establishment’s most revered mouthpieces. Kagan’s latest pronunciamento, “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire: What Our Tired Country Still Owes the World,” also from the pages of the New Republic, is an effort to remind the American Establishment, in a time of waning national economic and military fortunes and growing popular distaste for the 21st-century version of American globalist policymaking, what the aims of the post-World War II new world order really are.
Laments Kagan at the article’s outset:
Almost 70 years ago, a new world order was born from the rubble of World War II, built by and around the power of the United States. Today that world order shows signs of cracking, and perhaps even collapsing. The Russia-Ukraine and Syria crises, and the world’s tepid response, the general upheaval in the greater Middle East and North Africa, the growing nationalist and great-power tensions in East Asia, the worldwide advance of autocracy and retreat of democracy — taken individually, these problems are neither unprecedented nor unmanageable. But collectively they are a sign that something is changing, and perhaps more quickly than we may imagine. They may signal a transition into a different world order or into a world disorder of a kind not seen since the 1930s.
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