Day By Day

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making Sense of the World

In recent decades three books, purporting to explain the state of affairs in the world have been published. All have been widely read by elite policy makers; all have been extremely influential; and all three have inspired vigorous debate. They are:

The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama,

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, by Samuel Huntington,

and The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, by John Mearsheimer.

I would urge everyone to read all three; each gives you a useful, but limited, prism through which to view the endless debate over foreign policy. But to get a general sense of the books' arguments you can simply peruse "Conflict or Consensus: Three Visions Revisited" by Richard K. Betts, published in Foreign Affairs. [here] Check it out, then read the books. You will find that the interminable arguments on international affairs in the press and in government circles will make a lot more sense. At least, that has been my experience.

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