American National Security Strategy: Lessons From Michael Lind


Publisher’s Weekly has just issued a positive review of my colleague and friend Michael Lind’s new book on American foreign policy strategy.
I commend the book to you in part because the nation is in need of a serious discussion of what vision of the future we collectively have — what the terms of American engagement in global affairs will be, and how prosperity, justness, and stability are going to be achieved in a world that has become increasingly convulsive, disordered and messy.
The American Way of Strategy will hit the stands around October 1st, but I will be inviting Michael Lind to do some talks and to do some guest-blogging on the themes of his important new book.
Here is the review from Publisher’s Weekly:


The American Way of Strategy: U.S. Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life
(October 2006, Oxford University Press, 208 pages)

Since the first Gulf War, American foreign policy has undergone a dangerous shift against its tradition of preserving “the American way of life” — the civil liberties assured by a system of democratic republican liberalism — argues author and journalist Lind. The strategy has changed in style over time, from the “isolationism of the first hundred years to 20th-century global alliances and “temporary alliance hegemony” against mounting empires.
But keeping security costs down while “promoting a less dangerous international environment” has largely permitted the public to avoid trading liberty for security in moments of crisis, he argues. By contrast, the emergence of a post-Cold War bipartisan consensus around permanent U.S. global dominance (championed by neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney) is a perilous anomaly, says Lind (The Radical Center).
His lucid if sometimes reductive focus on international strategy and power politics as a primary engine of history can obscure as much as it clarifies. But Lind’s advocacy of a “concert of power” or shared primacy among several nations gains a persuasive momentum, exposing the folly of the current imperial strategy while forcefully examining the neglected role of foreign policy in the shaping of American politics and society. (Sept.)

Concerts of power will be something that American foreign policy thinkers and strategists will need to begin to mull over seriously as we sort out the phenomenal diminution of American power and prestige occurring today.
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “American National Security Strategy: Lessons From Michael Lind

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  5. L. Heart says:

    Mistakes have been made.
    But the future is still unwritten.
    Hopefully those with more vision, character and optimism than what has been expressed here, will be the ones to step forward and take the reigns back in hand.
    Good luck to those of you who would prefer “global domination” by China, Iran, Russia or any of the other “contenders” out there. It certainly is not going to fall to the Europeans.
    An appetite for submission, being seduced by the second or third best, is not something one should pridefully display in polite public company.


  6. Den Valdron says:

    Keep telling yourself that, Minipundit. It’s true, right up until the moment that it isn’t.


  7. John says:

    Anatol Lieven has an excellent opinion piece “Help Israel abandon its failed strategy” at Europeans should recognize that for the first time in many years, the increasingly visible failure of Israeli and American strategy, and Tel Aviv and Washington’s need for outside help, have given Europe real leverage. They should press this advantage relentlessly to help bring about a real solution to the Middle East’s manifold and interlinked conflicts.


  8. Minipundit says:

    You’re all forgetting one crucial thing: Dubya’s misdeeds do not negate the entire enterprise of American hegemony. Indeed, the perceptiontthat they do is one of their most horrible consequences. Nor did Dubya dismantle America’s hegemony. We still are several orders of magnitude more powerful than any other country in the world.


  9. MP says:

    Lind is very smart. A former conservative who wrote Up From Conservativism. He also wrote an interesting book contrasting LBJ’s Texas and Bush’s–quite an eye-opener, at least for me.


  10. Carroll says:

    Back to the point of Steve’s post though..I do look forward to Lind maybe doing some blogging here….
    I have read several of his articles and papers that are on the New American Foundation site and so far I am very in sync with his way of thinking about how America should conduct it’s foreign relations.
    So his book should be good, something besides your typical knee jerk left or right.


  11. Carroll says:

    Gotta agree with Den also on this…
    “America ruled the world, in part, because we all believed in America. We believed in the vision of America, in the ideals, in the American dream”
    Dead right…and we have lost it..thru corrupt politics, corrupting special interest, corrupting foreign interest…thru the lost of American principles and identity…..
    Just like in anything else, if you aren’t respected, you won’t be allowed to lead…we are about to get those of us right here who are fed up with it and by the international community who is also fed up with us.
    As I have said for quite some time..BWTTGASO


  12. Pissed Off American says:

    “What are Dubya’s achievements”
    Hey, he got away with the criminal desertion of his service obligations, didn’t he? He never went to jail for his cocaine use. He successfully gained the presidency through a criminally corrupted election. He presided over the largest foreign policy debacle in American history. Need I go on?
    Hell, the guy is more successful than Al Capone was.


  13. Pissed Off American says:

    Many of us are still believe in what we wanted to be, Den.
    Trouble is, our leaders don’t. This Lebanon thing, and our own invasion of Iraq, are the largest international crimes I have seen in my lifetime, and they certainly are on a par with Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Historians will not be kind to us.
    I agree with you, we have shot our wad. Its downhill from here.


  14. Matthew says:

    Please note that all the achievements of the American Empire cited by Minipundit preceded George W. Bush. What are Dubya’s achievements: universal revulsion of us, huge deficits, and Iraq, Iraq, Iraq?
    Millard Fillmore, you’ve been worsted!


  15. Den Valdron says:

    Reality check: the American way of life isn’t about Democracy, Civil Rights and Freedom. Your Democracy is sort of a joke and arguably corrupt, your civil rights are being put through a paper shredder, and the concept of freedom grows ever more fluit.
    What the American way of life is, is Wal-Mart, McMansions, SUV’s, two and three cars per family, a colour television in every room. It’s about shopping till you drop, hugging til you drug, conspicuous consumption right up til debt do you part.
    Okay, now to reply to Minipundit, sorry bud, but America’s bolt is shot, its day is done, your country has suffered premature ejaculation and is now standing with its dick in its hand and spooge all over the middle east.
    And if that’s not a tasteless set of metaphors, I don’t know what is. But it is accurate.
    America is now the second largest economy in the world, behind Europe. Japan is third largest, having suffered through a depression for the longest time… well, that may not last forever. China is coming up extremely fast. India is coming up fast. Russia is down, but again, probably that’s not going to last forever. American hegemony was not a matter of destiny, but a historical accident where pretty much every other significant player for one reason or another left the world stage. You guys had the chance for a rocking drum solo. Instead, you wasted it on self indulgence.
    The U.S.’ domination of the globe was a transient thing, based in part on goodwill.
    Y’see, here’s the tragic part, Minipundit. America ruled the world, in part, because we all believed in America. We believed in the vision of America, in the ideals, in the American dream.
    You could had it. You could a bin great. You coulda bin a contender. We was all looking up to ya.
    But insted, you was just another bum. That’s not how it was supposed to be.


  16. Minipundit says:

    What I don’t understand about Lind is his apparent belief that the US doesn’t dominate the globe, and that to do so would be bad. US leadership gave us Bretton Woods, a free Europe (on both sides), and the United Nationas. Besides, the alternatives (India? China?) would be far worse. Lind lives in a dream world where there are multiple great powers and where their internal character doesn’t matter. Neither is the case.


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