Liberal Leviathan

When I was writing my own book, I needed a good abstract guideline of a sound approach to foreign policy and basically what I went with was ideas stolen from John Ikenberry’s After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars. That book was written in 2000, though, so the idea-stealing process mostly involved trying to guess what the implications were for Bush-era conduct. With the release of his new book, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order the guessing game can end and you can read for yourself.

The two books have a fair amount of overlap in terms of theoretical content, so if you’ve already read the first one you’ll probably want to skim a bit through the second one to get to the new stuff. Conversely, if you haven’t read his earlier book and are more interested in contemporary issues than historical ones, Liberal Leviathan gives you what you want to know. The basic idea, in either case, is that during the Cold War the United States built up a liberal hegemony inside the “western camp” that was based on rule-government leadership and the goal for the contemporary situation should be to bring that model to the entire world. The Bush administration, especially until 2005 or so, had the very different idea of trying to create a hegemonic world order. But they failed, and now we need to go back to the earlier, better idea.