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America Abroad: The United States' Global Role in the 21st Century

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A decade and a half of exhausting wars, punishing economic setbacks, and fast-rising rivals has called into question America's fundamental position and purpose in world politics. Will the US continue to be the only superpower in the international system? Should it continue advancing the world-shaping grand strategy it has followed since the dawn of the Cold War? Or should A decade and a half of exhausting wars, punishing economic setbacks, and fast-rising rivals has called into question America's fundamental position and purpose in world politics. Will the US continue to be the only superpower in the international system? Should it continue advancing the world-shaping grand strategy it has followed since the dawn of the Cold War? Or should it "come home" and focus on its internal problems? The recent resurgence of isolationist impulses has made the politics surrounding these questions increasingly bitter. In America Abroad, Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth take stock of these debates and provide a powerful defense of American globalism. They stress that world politics since end of World War Two has been shaped by two constants: America's position as the most powerful state, and its strategic choice to be deeply engaged in the world. Ever since, the US has advanced its interests by pursuing three core objectives: reducing threats by managing the security environment in key regions; promoting a liberal economic order to expand global and domestic prosperity; and sustaining the network of global institutions on terms favorable to US interests. While there have been some periodic policy failures, America's overall record is astounding. But how would America's interests fare if the United States chose to disengage from the world and reduce its footprint overseas? Their answer is clear: retrenchment would put core US security and economic interests at risk. And because America's sole superpower status will long endure, the US will not be forced to turn inward. While America should remain globally engaged, it also has to focus primarily on its core interests: reducing great power rivalry and security competition in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East; fostering economic globalization; and supporting a multilateral institutional system that advances US interests. Pursuing objectives beyond this core runs the risk of overextension. A bracing rejoinder to the critics of American globalism, America Abroad is a powerful reminder that a robust American presence is crucial for maintaining world order.


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A decade and a half of exhausting wars, punishing economic setbacks, and fast-rising rivals has called into question America's fundamental position and purpose in world politics. Will the US continue to be the only superpower in the international system? Should it continue advancing the world-shaping grand strategy it has followed since the dawn of the Cold War? Or should A decade and a half of exhausting wars, punishing economic setbacks, and fast-rising rivals has called into question America's fundamental position and purpose in world politics. Will the US continue to be the only superpower in the international system? Should it continue advancing the world-shaping grand strategy it has followed since the dawn of the Cold War? Or should it "come home" and focus on its internal problems? The recent resurgence of isolationist impulses has made the politics surrounding these questions increasingly bitter. In America Abroad, Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth take stock of these debates and provide a powerful defense of American globalism. They stress that world politics since end of World War Two has been shaped by two constants: America's position as the most powerful state, and its strategic choice to be deeply engaged in the world. Ever since, the US has advanced its interests by pursuing three core objectives: reducing threats by managing the security environment in key regions; promoting a liberal economic order to expand global and domestic prosperity; and sustaining the network of global institutions on terms favorable to US interests. While there have been some periodic policy failures, America's overall record is astounding. But how would America's interests fare if the United States chose to disengage from the world and reduce its footprint overseas? Their answer is clear: retrenchment would put core US security and economic interests at risk. And because America's sole superpower status will long endure, the US will not be forced to turn inward. While America should remain globally engaged, it also has to focus primarily on its core interests: reducing great power rivalry and security competition in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East; fostering economic globalization; and supporting a multilateral institutional system that advances US interests. Pursuing objectives beyond this core runs the risk of overextension. A bracing rejoinder to the critics of American globalism, America Abroad is a powerful reminder that a robust American presence is crucial for maintaining world order.

47 review for America Abroad: The United States' Global Role in the 21st Century

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    Though not amazing, this book does a good job in laying out why, in the view of the authors, the US is, and should continue to be, the world’s only globally-engaged superpower. Written in 2015, the authors acknowledge the need to write the book in light of the increasing calls, by academics, politicians and segments of the public, for the US to pull back from its interventionist foreign policy. The authors also acknowledge the views that the US is no longer, or won’t be for much longer, the world Though not amazing, this book does a good job in laying out why, in the view of the authors, the US is, and should continue to be, the world’s only globally-engaged superpower. Written in 2015, the authors acknowledge the need to write the book in light of the increasing calls, by academics, politicians and segments of the public, for the US to pull back from its interventionist foreign policy. The authors also acknowledge the views that the US is no longer, or won’t be for much longer, the world’s only superpower, citing the meteoric rise of China. To tackle the first point, the authors highlight the extent to which Iraq and Afghanistan were radical outliers in the US’s style of a deeply engaged, but far less interventionist, foreign policy. They then go on to argue the benefits, economic and geo-political, for the US’s policy of deep engagement, not just for the US but, by and large, for the world. Similarly, they outline their criticisms for those advocating for the US to pull back, exposing what they see as insufficient budgetary savings and an increase in the potential for having to re-engage in a hurry at the first sing of instability. As to the status of China, the authors spent a significant amount of space to highlight the military and technological shortcomings that they see as keeping China from superpower status, though they do acknowledge the potential for it to emerge as one over several decades. Unfortunately, the authors brush aside, too quickly in my opinion, the concern for the rising economic importance of China. This was one of the most disappointing aspects of the book. It seemed like huge missed opportunity to not recognize that China might become a global superpower on the strength of its economy rather than on its military or to at least argue why this is unlikely to be the case. Nonetheless, the book was an interesting exploration of the value of the US’s international commitments as well as the challenges needed to be overcome for any change in that policy to be in anyone’s benefit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zach Kagley

    Excellent book - I've read it at least four times, and I allows learn something new upon re-reading it. High points of the book are that the authors condense and refine empirical research gathered over many years into (relatively) readable and enjoyable, if heavily jargoned, prose. Their case for what they describe as Deep Engagement - America's taking an active role in global governance, regional security agreements, and global trade, are both polemical and draw on material and arguments from i Excellent book - I've read it at least four times, and I allows learn something new upon re-reading it. High points of the book are that the authors condense and refine empirical research gathered over many years into (relatively) readable and enjoyable, if heavily jargoned, prose. Their case for what they describe as Deep Engagement - America's taking an active role in global governance, regional security agreements, and global trade, are both polemical and draw on material and arguments from international relations scholars of a Realist bent. The reader is surprised, for example, to learn that University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer, who argues that the US should generally disengage from the liberal internationalist project, makes a strong case for a US military presence in East Asia. This is on the grounds that America's regional deployments provide balancing stability to the region, which would otherwise translate into increased military competition and arms races, an outcome that is not in the United States's national interests.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    The knowledge is well researched and for exhaustive of the possibilities that could happen or has already taken place. The authors did wrote a very informative book, even if it was rather formal to read. My biggest issue with this book was that often times they would present an argument, explain it, defend it with both historical and theoretical research, but then they would immediately have 8 or so pages disproving the theory, so often times it was lacking on where the authors stood on the issu The knowledge is well researched and for exhaustive of the possibilities that could happen or has already taken place. The authors did wrote a very informative book, even if it was rather formal to read. My biggest issue with this book was that often times they would present an argument, explain it, defend it with both historical and theoretical research, but then they would immediately have 8 or so pages disproving the theory, so often times it was lacking on where the authors stood on the issue, or if the original theory was even still relevant. I appreciate the presentation from both sides of the argument, however it could have been done in a less confusing way.

  4. 4 out of 5

    The American Conservative

    The new book from Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth might be unsettling to readers accustomed to encountering the hawks who typically populate the media. Unlike them, the authors of America Abroad admit that the United States has made mistakes abroad, they reckon with the reality of failed policies, and they consider other countries’ perspectives. Try to imagine William Kristol or Fred Barnes advocating an assertive American foreign policy but conceding that “the United States has at least it The new book from Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth might be unsettling to readers accustomed to encountering the hawks who typically populate the media. Unlike them, the authors of America Abroad admit that the United States has made mistakes abroad, they reckon with the reality of failed policies, and they consider other countries’ perspectives. Try to imagine William Kristol or Fred Barnes advocating an assertive American foreign policy but conceding that “the United States has at least its fair share of flaws, and, given its outsized role in the world, those flaws can produce negative ramifications; the aftermath of the 2003 invasion is arguably the most dramatic recent example but there are obviously many others.” America Abroad’s arguments are strengthened considerably by its nuance and fairness. Indeed, even those of us who favor a foreign policy guided by more restraint may admit that Brooks and Wohlforth have produced perhaps the most convincing defense of American power since the Cold War ceased. It at least ranks with Joseph Nye’s Bound to Lead and Zbigniew Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard in that regard. Those who have followed the authors’ careers will not be surprised at the quality of this work. Political scientists at Dartmouth, they are best known for a series of journal articles arguing that American preeminence is resilient and a positive force for the U.S. and the world. http://www.theamericanconservative.co...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Warman

    A very relevant and interesting book. I think it earns five stars with some personal wrights. It is evident that this is a throughly researched book. I enjoyed the many facts and figures. However, I found myself lost at times trying to fully grasp the arguments presented. No doubt that the authors each have a great sense of style, and indeed it does not fail throughout the book, but, I felt confused and needed to reread some sections.

  6. 5 out of 5

    !Tæmbuŝu

    Discussed in Vox Discussed in Vox

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Brownlee

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    Eric Thrond

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    Atul

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    Michael Wojcik

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    Blake Plante

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    Tjn

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    Richard

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    Kevin Hussey

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    Brooke Baker

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    Christopher

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    Artem

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