Thursday, August 18, 2016

I've Finished Robert J. Lieber's, Retreat and its Consequences

Following-up from previously, "A Defense Strategy for the New Administration."

Thornberry and Krepinevich reminded me that I've finished Robert Lieber's excellent new book, Retreat and its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order.

I particularly enjoyed Lieber's discussion of Europe, which is found in chapter 2, "Burden sharing with Europe: problems of capability and will." Lieber has a comparativist's grasp of the internal politics of the leading European nation-states, and his analysis of Germany's role, and Germany's realpolitik within the E.U., is both perceptive and troubling. Berlin advances a very hard-line against weaker E.U. members, like Greece, while at the same time pushing utopian schemes like Merkel's refugee policy, that end up forcing a second blow against the peripheral states, poorer regimes that must bear the extreme costs of the central E.U.'s "enlightened humanitarianism."

The chapters on Middle East politics and the BRICS are also excellent, especially the latter's discussion of BRIC free-riding off America's hegemonic leadership in power politics and international institutions. You'll find yourself infuriated at times as you plow through this chapter, especially because current U.S. leadership --- folks so committed to their own idealistic policies, like the Obama administration's climate change agenda --- is getting thrown under the bus of the world system's multilateral collective action problem.

It's a stunning eye-opener for those worried about the direction of U.S. foreign policy and America's continued primacy.

But like I said previously, "America will lead again, in both word and power. It's just a matter of the political dynamics." My hope, of course, is that the pendulum of preponderance swings back to favor American interests sooner rather than later.

In any case, Lieber's Retreat and its Consequences is a crackling good offering by a master of sweeping foreign policy analysis. The book would do well in either graduate or undergraduate courses in international politics or U.S. foreign policy. And frankly, it's just a good summer sparkler for the general reader as well.