The Jungle Grows Back
America and Our Imperiled World
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network October 25, 2018 Ian J. Drake
Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist for The Washington Post. He is also the author of The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Dangerous Nation, Of Paradise and Power, and A Twilight Struggle. He served in the U.S. State Department from 1984 to 1988. His latest book, The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World (Knopf, 2018), is a review of American foreign policy in the twentieth century and an argument regarding how that history should be understood by current policy-makers. Kagan contends that not only was the twentieth century an “American century” in the sense of American foreign supremacy, but it was an unusual aberration in world history. Likening international affairs to a jungle, he argues that the U.S. cleared and curated a peaceful garden through its role as a guarantor of economic and military stability, its advocacy for democracy, and its containment of communism. Accordingly, he contends, any American withdrawal from this role in the 21st century will result in the normal, fearful, power-politics of the jungle growing back, which will have deleterious consequences not only for America but for the entire globe. Kagan notes that one of the supreme achievements of the United States was not only protecting Western Europe and much of Asia from expansionist communist states, but also the reform and pacification of formers enemies Germany and Japan. Kagan’s is a challenging and provocative argument and is an important addition to the debate over what was and should be America’s role in world affairs.
Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory.