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How Ambitious Can We Be?

Author: James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair
October 1, 2006
American Prospect


Anyone who doubts the Bush Revolution in foreign policy has ended should check the shelves at a bookstore. Hagiographies about the man fromMidlandare out. Impassioned critiques offering plans for a new approach to foreign affairs are in.

Ethical Realism and The American Way of Strategy are the two newest entries in the contest to plot the counter-revolution. Both books catalogue the administration’s many missteps, and both would have the next president pursue a far less ambitious foreign policy. It is not clear, however, that it would be a better one.

Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman make an odd writing pair, as they acknowledge in the introduction to Ethical Realism. Lieven, a former British journalist who did a stint at the dovish Carnegie Endowment for International Peace before becoming a fellow at the self-described radical centrist New America Foundation, staunchly opposed the Iraq War. Hulsman, a Republican who until recently was a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, supported the war until American casualties began to mount. They set aside their ideological differences to write together because of their common exasperation with the pieties and orthodoxies of both U.S. party establishments.

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