Since the end of World War II, we have seen the emergence of a “liberal world order.” By any historical standard, it’s brought us extraordinary peace, prosperity and progress. Though imperfect, it’s preferable to any other option currently available. But unless the U.S. defends it and invests in it, it will die—sooner rather than later. That, in a nutshell, is the argument Robert Kagan makes in his powerful new book: The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World. He joins FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May for a discussion of what human progress in the 21st century requires.
Like a jungle that keeps growing back after being cut down, the world has always been full of dangerous actors who, left unchecked, possess the desire and ability to make things worse. Kagan makes clear how the "realist" impulse to recognize our limitations and focus on our failures misunderstands the essential role America has played for decades in keeping the world's worst instability in check. A true realism, he argues, is based on the understanding that the historical norm has always been toward chaos—that the jungle will grow back, if we let it. More
World order is one of those things people don’t think about until it is gone. That’s what Americans learned in the 1930s, as what had remained of the old European order collapsed and the United States refused to step in either to prop it up or to replace it. That’s when Americans discovered that there are always dangerous people out there, lacking only the power and opportunity to achieve their destiny. They can be suppressed by a reasonably stable international order, whether of a Rome, a united Christendom, a European concert of powers or whatever might pass for “civilization” at a given time and place. Read in The Washington Post
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