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The World America Made

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  387 ratings  ·  52 reviews
What would the world look like if America were to reduce its role as a global leader in order to focus all its energies on solving its problems at home? And is America really in decline? Robert Kagan, New York Times best-selling author and one of the country’s most influential strategic thinkers, paints a vivid, alarming picture of what the world might look like if the Uni ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Dave DiGrazie
Having read in 1988 Paul Kennedy's "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," whose front cover featured an American flag about to fall off a precipice, I was fascinated to see Kagan's title 15 years after Kennedy's book was published. In '87, when Kennedy hit the shelves, the ascendency of Japan to the throne of first among nations was widely-accepted conventional wisdom.

Of course, it didn't happen (or hasn't happened yet) the way Kennedy had predicted. Japan has been mired in economic and social
Peter Mcloughlin
Robert Kagan is a member of the foreign policy establishment as such you can expect a somewhat rosier view of the benefits of America's role in the world than say someone like Noam Chomsky. I don't expect an establishment figure to talk about the evils of American involvement outside its borders. That said Kagan makes some good points about certain benefits of American Foreign policy. First while all powers work on selfish motives for a large part of its foreign policy these powers like it when ...more
A vague, rambling, dismissive treatment of American foreign policy issues, with bland statements and reassurances. One gets the feeling that things are still even more uncertain than before.
Kathryn Bashaar
This book was pretty good, but it was a cursory treatment of its subject. The author's premise is that the Pax Americana of the past 65 years benefits most of the people in the world and that most of the world would be worse off if the United States decides that we should withdraw from our role as leader of the free world. He does not subscribe to the notion that civilization has evolved enough that economic prosperity, relative peace, freedom, global trade and exchange of information would surv ...more
Paul Miller
Kagan offers a solid, concise statement in this little pamphlet of why the liberal world order depends on American power and why it is worth defending. I broadly agree with his interpretation of world politics, which is a blend of conservative realism and democratic idealism.

Here's his argument in a nutshell: "If one wants a more liberal order, there may be no substitute for powerful liberal nations to build and defend it. International order is not an evolution; it is an imposition. It is the d
Apparently, this book is publicly endorsed by President Obama.
An intriguing recount of how America rose to be thee world power, and why (like it or not..) America will remain on top for the foreseeable future. Although, we may have to learn how to share..

Read like a very objective look at America and it's global actions and role.

*written by a greek dude.

Kagan wrote a brief but compelling book about what the second half of the twentieth century and the early portion of the twenty-first century would have been like if the United States had not been the leading democracy in the world. He acknowledges all the American foreign policy short comings but still manages to present a convincing case for our having been the best thing for world order and the spread of democracy to more than one hundred countries. And we're not done yet, he says; don't buy ...more
The world order created and enforced by America has the most vociferous detractors, who compare its integrity at any one time only to its highest professed ideals. This is healthy and a sign of the standards associated with it as a country. That the criticisms which are levelled at American democratic politics would seem absurd and trivial if levelled against lesser, poorer and less free regimes says it all; a Russian or Chinese led alternative really isn't contemplated enough by those who are r ...more
As an American who spends a fair amount of time abroad, I am used to criticism directed towards my country and its foreign policy. However, I occasionally have the misfortune to run into people who unswervingly decry America as neo-imperialist power hellbent on violating the sovereignty of helpless nations throughout the world. Though I can readily admit the fallibility of America, this criticism has at best a tenuous connection to reality. My main annoyance is when others obstinately refuse to ...more
This was a fantastic refresher course bringing me up to date on the status of America's role as a unipolar superpower and the benefits we enjoy in the current system with its relative peace, prosperity and security, while western values such as democracy and respect for human rights have spread throughout the world. It is also a sobering reminder of the folly of so many today, including Americans elites, who anticipate and in some cases even call for American retreat and decline. What would the ...more
Frank Roberts
Kagan's books are always worthwhile. In this short, easy read, Kagan examines the question that seems to be on everyone's mind, whether American power is declining, and what a post-American world might look like. He points out that the modern order, of general peace, prosperity and open trade, is largely due to the power that America has exercised over the last six decades, post World War II. That the modern liberal, democratic order is not the result of human evolution, but the result of actual ...more
Robert Clay
The premise of this book is well summed up by Kagan when he writes: "The notion that the world could make a smooth and entirely peaceful transition from the present configuration of power to a new configuration reflecting an entirely different distribution of power is wishful thinking." (pg. 90) In this short book, which packs a lot into its few pages, Kagan is quite convincing in supporting this assertion. Most impressive to me was his use of history to shore up his arguments, placing our prese ...more
Robert Kagan has been a constant figure in European Studies and my study thereof. His seminal work Of Paradise and Power came out the year before I entered the European Studies program at BYU, and while I didn't completely agree with his dichotomous characterization of U.S.-European relations, the discussion that resulted piqued my interest and ultimately led to a graduate program in Europe and a lifelong interest in international relations. Indeed, Kagan's special skill is his ability to write ...more
Ronald Barba
Overall, I thought this was a good historical perspective on the role of US in foreign affairs. Although it emphasizes the need for America to keep a strong military force, its intentions are motivated by the notion that a global democratic mindset cannot continue to exist unless the US plays a continuous role in global affairs (military-related or otherwise).

The aim of this book is to look at how differently today's world might have evolved lacking the role of the US in shaping an internationa
I highly recommend reading this book, which is an important addition to the discussion about the decline of America and a potential end to the unipolar world. It is an extension of a recent article that he wrote, and as such, reads more like a lengthy op-ed, which you can tackle in a couple sittings.

Kagan argues that the current global economy and relative peace of the past 60 years are due in large part to the role America has played as a global economic and military power. There is a desire by
Oct 18, 2012 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historians, Government Majors
The story of how America made the world is one filled with doubt and questionable actions. Mr. Kagan argues that the world America made is one that didn't always look favorable on America. He explains that most of the world before the 20th century was not pro-democracy and instead believed in autocracy as the way to govern it's people.

The book is mostly written with the idea in mind of what the world would be like if America didn't have such a strong influence in the world, or as of what he argu
Bob Pearson
Kagan can translate large amounts of dense material into readable and digestible form for the lay reader. In a moment, perhaps prolonged, of deep American angst, he reminds all of us that the U.S. has been a powerful liberal and positive force in history. He doesn't cover up the blemishes, and he doesn't pose as a pollyanna telling us that everything will just turn out right if we believe. He reminds us that we Americans have resorted to military force quite often, that we have consorted with di ...more
Heather Campbell
Robert Kagan’s The World America Made provides you with an interesting and educated prospective on where America has come from and where it is likely to go in the future. I found this book to be very eye opening to trends and patterns that I would have overlooked otherwise. For example, the book highlights the connection between capitalism and global economic growth. „By resuscitating the economies of Europe and Japan, the United States strengthened both as bulwarks against the Soviet Union wit ...more
Outstanding! A short, but brilliantly done review of the ups and downs of American Foreign & Defense Policy over its schizophrenic last 100+ years. With well selected and relevant examples Robert Kaplan puts today's strategic environment in perspective and convincingly argues that US military and economic power is not in immediate decline nor likely to become so in the forseeable future. He does a wonderful job of putting the arguments of Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria about American rel ...more
In “The World America Made”, Robert Kagan presents a very tight and well-assembled argument that America must continue to play the dominant role in world affairs for the foreseeable future. Here is the essence of his argument:
America is a completely different kind of empire, a reluctant empire. Americans “resent and fear the burden of responsibility they have taken on themselves.”
The steady rise in American power since WWII, and particularly since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 has enable
An interesting perspective and fascinating in the sense of Kagan's exploration of how essentially the morals and thoughts of each country contributes to the peace and war in the world, with the US ultimately it's leader militarily and for all intensive purposes, general global thought/order. Lost from it's dominance, the economic superpower, Kagan argues that in order for the US maintain it's global standing, it must sustain its grip militarily that may at times be at odds with it's own moral co ...more
Another Fascinating book by Robery Kagan.

In this book he discusses several things.

1. Why the world has turned out the way it has and he attributes that mostly to American military and economic power. He does discuss problems and other views, but he also counters them with history of other times when there were other superpowers.

2. Why the world has been so accepting and unworried about the US being as strong a superpower as it is, as in history when 1 nation has become too powerful other powerfu
Glen Stott
This is the good, the bad, and the ugly about America. It focuses mostly on America’s role in the world since it became a world power. It spells out the many violent and evil acts the country has committed. This is the myopic history of America that the Bill Ayres of the world focus on to inspire radicals to turn America into a different place. However, the story is much bigger than that. This book explains the many ways America has made worldwide economic growth possible. Nearly every country i ...more
Highlights of Kagan.

If one wants a more liberal order there may be no substitute for powerful liberal nations to build and defense it.

Present world order is fragile and unique preserving it requires a struggle.

The record is mixed but it was always mixed. There was never a golden era of American influence

Shaping international policy is always difficult. Few even attempt it

For china to rise is much harder than for the us to maintain its position. Different from economics were it is easier for
What would the world look like if America were to reduce its role as a global leader in order to focus all its energies on solving its problems at home?

Is America really in decline?

These are the two fundamental questions this brief book tries to answer.

Of course, the answer is - it's complicated. However, Kagan does a nice job of putting the United States current role in historical context which shines a bright light at how fleeting power structures are in human history and how unique the curren
Kagan argues that American power is neccessary for the current world peace and that there isn't a graceful way for us to back out of the position that we have carved for ourselves over the last 60 years. He also argues against the belief in "American decline" pointing out that we have worried about the same thing since 1949 when the Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb. This is a fascinating counter arguement to That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We ...more
Craig Fiebig

Kagan demonstrates a clear understanding of historical forces ebbing flowing over time. His best discussions occur late in the book when he reviews Kennedy's work on the decline of empires and talks about how the demise of the United States has been forecast many times in the past. Kagan Reminds us that each time the United States was expected to fall under the emergence of countries such as Japan and now China it is always rebounded and found a way to reignite its prominence. Most importantly
Ryan Rommann
Considering Kagan's neoconservative roots and Romney advisory, I was expecting a more biased appraisal of America's "god-given exceptionalism." The World America Made was surprisingly balanced - incorporating most of America's blunders and malevolence, while still cogently arguing for the necessity of its global leadership.

It is a little too short and reads like an essay (or SOTU speech), but Kagan's overall thesis is compelling. The section on the "nostalgic fallacy" of American decline was es
In his short book "The World America Made", Robert Kagan examines the question of whether America is truly in decline, and looks at what the world might look like if American influence should decline. Kagan, a long time G.O.P. foreign policy advisor and strong military supporter, takes an opposing view of others who see America's influence, economic and political power fading. While pointing out that the American influence has not always been dominant, and that policy decisions have not always b ...more
Jeremiah Cioffi
Good perspective by a well respected policy analyst. I found it too vague and unconvincing, but redeemed by its thought provoking content.
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Robert Kagan is an American historian and foreign policy commentator. Robert Kagan is the son of Yale classical historian and author, Donald Kagan. He is married to Victoria Nuland, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and has two children. He is the brother of political commentator Frederick Kagan.

Kagan is a columnist for the Washington Post and is syndicated by the New York Times Syndicate. He is
More about Robert Kagan...
Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order The Return of History and the End of Dreams Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in America�s Foreign and Defense Policy Dangerous Nation

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“Liberating a people requires the same brutal force as conquering them. Even moral wars have immoral consequences. Neither people nor nations can use the tools of war and coercion and hope to keep their hands clean. Americans have never been comfortable with these brutal facts of life. Their founding ideology contains an irresolvable tension between universalism, the belief that every human being must be allowed to exercise his or her individual rights, and individualism, the belief that among those rights is the right to be left alone. This has made them ambivalent and suspicious about power, even their own, and this ambivalence is often paralyzing. No sooner do they invade and occupy a country than they begin looking for the exits.” 0 likes
“International order is not an evolution; it is an imposition. It is the domination of one vision over others- in this case, the domination of liberal principles of economics, domestic politics, and international relations over other, nonliberal principles. It will last only as long as those who imposed it retain the capacity to defend it.” 0 likes
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