The End of the American Era: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century (英語) ハードカバー – 2002/10/29
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The conclusion of the Cold War is commonly presumed to mark the ultimate triumph of liberal democracy and capitalism, bringing to a close the world’s last great ideological divide. Privileged by its commanding economic and military strength, the United States is destined to preside over this new century, clearing the way for a dur-able era of great-power peace and prosperity.
In a work of remarkable scope, Charles A. Kup-chan exposes the flaws in this conventional wisdom, revealing that the close of the Cold War heralded not America’s final victory but the beginning of the demise of its global dominance. He contends that the next challenge to America is fast emerging. It comes not from the Islamic world or from an ascendant China, but from an integrating Europe, whose economy already rivals America’s. As the European Union seeks influence commensurate with its economic status, it will inevitably rise as a counterweight to the United States. America and Europe are parting ways, the discord extending well beyond the realm of trade. Decades of strategic partnership are giving way to renewed geopolitical competition.
Kupchan argues that the unraveling of American primacy will be expedited by growing opposition at home to the country’s burdensome role as global guardian. Although temporarily reawakened by terrorism, America’s appetite for international engagement is on the wane; the country’s historic aversion toward foreign entanglements is making a comeback. Returning as well is America’s fondness for unilateral action, alienating the partners with whom Washington will need to work to bring together an increasingly divided world. The impact of the digital age on U.S. society also promises to have profound effects on American politics and on the scope and nature of the country’s role in global politics.
Far from watching the end of history, we will be witnesses to the end of the American era. By deftly mining the lessons of the past to cast light on our future, Kupchan explains how the United States and the rest of the world should prepare for the more unpredictable and unstable global system that awaits. Timely and compelling, this book will take its place among the most insightful works of geopolitics.
“One of the outstanding figures of the new generation of U.S. foreign policy thinkers and practitioners. His powerful and erudite book . . . sparkles with insights.” —The Washington Post Book World
“An absorbing and thought-provoking book on what Charles Kupchan considers the central challenges to future U.S. preeminence and global stability.” —Henry Kissinger
“A bold and elegant new statement about the coming breakdown of Pax Americana and a return to great-power rivalry.” —Foreign Affairs
“Indispensable reading for anyone who recognizes the importance of challenging the conventional wisdom about America’s evolving world role.” —The Dallas Morning News
“In this dazzling work, steeped in history and politics, Charles A. Kupchan maps out an original and persuasive vision of where America and the world are headed. The time to read this book is now.” —James Chace, author of Acheson: The Secretary of State Who Created the American World
“With his expansive knowledge of history, Kupchan places contemporary trends in perspective. . . . Offers revealing insights into contemporary policy matters with a spectacular eye for detail.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“Elegantly explores the benefits and dangers of U.S. primacy and the system of globalization that has come with it. His call for a rethinking of America’s role in the world could not be more timely. . . . Well worth reading.” –George Soros
“An important and provocative reassessment of American power and foreign policy.”–Lee H. Hamilton, Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center
“This original and informative work challenges our conventional wisdom and offers useful strategic guidance. Agree with it or not, Kupchan will make you think and reexamine your assumptions as you enjoy the clarity of his writing and thought.”–Anthony Lake, National Security Advisor in the first Clinton administration
“Provocatively embedding his argument in examinations of historical power shifts . . . Kupchan argues that American preeminence is dangerous to sustain, because it is in fact unsustainable.” –Booklist
“Compelling analysis, rich in the lessons of history, that will shatter the illusions of a perpetual Pax Americana. . . . As controversial as it is insightful.” –Ronald Steel, author of Walter Lippmann and the American Century
“An ambitious enterprise . . . Kupchan should be congratulated for bravely tackling broad issues in an age of specialization.”–Times Literary Supplement (UK)
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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He begins his book by addressing the shortcomings of other recent major conceptual frameworks of global politics as conceived by Frances Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, Paul Kennedy and Robert Kaplan (who Kupchan groups together), John Mearsheimer, and Thomas Friedman. The flaw in all of these thinkers, according to Kupchan, is that none of them have recognized the most important fundamentals of the present global system, which is America's current overwhelming power and the fact that its hegemony cannot last.
If the U.S. is in decline, who will take its place? Kupchan believes a united Europe is rising and that East Asia (China and Japan) is not far behind. In this global environment, and because of U.S. domestic tendencies towards isolationism, he thinks a grand strategy is necessary for the U.S. to smoothly make the transition from a unipolar world to a multipolar one. While Kupchan is not entirely clear about the timing of this transition, in at least one area of the book he says Europe is about a decade away from forming a credible alternative axis of world power and East Asia about three decades away. Other countries - mostly Russia, sometimes India - are also mentioned in places throughout the book as potential poles, but without much detail.
Europe is the main object of Kupchan's attention. According to his argument, Europe's ever-growing economic and political solidarity will soon naturally give rise to geopolitical power. If the U.S. cedes some of its power to Europe now in preparation of that development, a healthy relationship will grow between the two; if not, then we can expect a bumpy ride on the way to multipolarity.
While I agree with some of Kupchan's premises, such as the inevitable relative decline of U.S. power and the likelihood that the new world will be multipolar, I disagree with both his vision of what that new world will look like as well as his suggestion for a grand U.S. strategy on how to handle it.
Contrary to Kupchan's thinking, Europe has neither the will nor the military to become a geopolitical force within the next decade. If economics and some shared values were all that was required, Europe would have become an alternative axis of power rivaling the U.S. years ago. Instead, as the crisis over the U.S.-led war in Iraq makes clear, if the Europeans are ever going to be a geopolitical force, they will need institutions to make common and *binding* diplomatic and defense policies that override the national priorities of their constituent states. And even if they have these institutions, the money will have to be found to build a first-rate military. With many European nations heavily in debt, and a demographic crisis looming on the continent, where will this money come from? Kupchan brushes aside these difficulties.
Europe's common military does not have to rival America's, but it must have power projection capabilities to both Eastern Europe and the Middle East. If it doesn't, then Europe will still require the United States to enforce stability in those areas using its military power when other measures have failed. After all, a resurgent Russia might still haunt the future of Eastern Europe, and Europe, as a whole, is far more dependent on Middle East oil than the U.S. Nothing we see today shows Europe will be ready to handle those responsibilities any time soon.
The less said about Kupchan's thoughts on East Asia, the better. His brief sections on the region and the countries in it are surprisingly thin, devoid of fresh thinking, or even proof he did anymore than just remedial reading on the area. What's more, his vision of how U.S. strategy fits into the region is shockingly naïve, envisioning the United States leading the way towards a sort of united East Asia by - among other things - helping Japan and China to forsake old enmities. That's not strategy; that's fantasy. Even Kupchan admits as much.
There is a common theme to this book. No matter what the region or area - whether it's to Europe, East Asia, or international institutions - Kupchan's strategy calls for the U.S. giving up power. This seems an odd strategy for what is still by far the most powerful country in the world and what is likely to remain the most powerful country in the world for the foreseeable future. Wouldn't a realist at least call for giving up power in one region where it is less needed so that it could be at least partially redeployed somewhere else where it is more needed? Instead, Kupchan seems to think that U.S. power is a cheap currency to be spent on dubious schemes such as pushing Chinese/Japanese reconciliation.
By showing he has only one general prescription to fit every region's future, Kupchan signals he is less interested in seeing the shifting balance of world power as it is, and putting forth a strategy to deal with it, than he is in pushing an ideology of world power that he feels comfortable with. The final section of the book gives a clue as to why, showing he is highly downbeat about America's future. Interestingly enough, having dismissed Robert Kaplan's vision of a splintering world divided between north and south, he buys into Kaplan's view of the United States as a splintering country. Kupchan believes that even as the U.S. helps the rest of the world come together (Europe and Russia/China and Japan/north and south), regions within the states themselves are destined to grow apart. This ending is a contradictory and absurd coda to an already faltering book.
Author of 'Tracing the Eagle's Orbit: Illuminating Insights into Major US Foreign Policies since Independence'.
A wise nation does a simple SWOT analysis - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats - and formulates a strategy to ensure that it holds on to power. Kupchan reminds us of Churchill's policy in response to the German threat prior to the First World War when, over much opposition, he brought the British fleet back to defend the homeland. But the British leadership was not so enlightened prior to the Second World War; fortunately Churchill was there waiting in the wings. "The End of the American Era" is primarily about the lessons from history applied to present day America and as you might imagine from the title the author gives a thumbs down on the degree of enlightenment of the American leadership today. The author points out that there are already signs that American preponderance and the stability it breeds are slipping away. American internationalism was at its high-water mark during the last decade but is now on the wane despite that fact that today's problems require a multilateral approach and reliance on international institutions. Terrorism poses a collective threat and requires a collective response. The tragic events of September 2001 served as a wake up call to America, alerting the country that the homeland is no longer inviolable and that the US would be wise to take greater interest in crucial foreign policy issues. The central challenge of the future will be the same as the past - managing relations between contending centers of power. Other concerns will pale in comparison to the dangers that will emerge if America believes that its primacy is here to stay. The US has unparalleled potential to shape what comes next but lacks a grand strategy; America is a great power adrift. Unfortunately, the intellectual initiative and institutional creativity of 1815, 1919 and 1945 are missing in Washington today. In addition, we do not have a clearly identified enemy but a much more elusive enemy in terrorism - an enemy schooled in guerrilla tactics where patience and tact are more useful weapons than military power.
Think tanks turn out work with a short shelf life while universities generate scholarship of little relevance to policy. What should America's new map look like? Is Fukuyama in The End of History right in that liberal democracy is taking the world by storm? Is Samuel Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order right that a struggle among Judeo-Christian, Islamic and Confucian civilizations is in the offing? Is Thomas Friedman in The Lexus and the Olive Tree right that globalization has changed the rules for good? In Kupchan's opinion each vision has its merits but all are wrong. The defining element of the global system is the distribution of power, not democracy, culture, globalization, or anything else. As the US withdraws from multilateral institutions in favor of unilateralism the vacuum will be filled by a new era of geopolitical rivalry. If history is a guide, the end of US primacy will bring with it a more unpredictable and unpleasant world.
It is impossible to predict your opponent's next move in chess, let alone predict moves and counter moves on the international scene. However, Kupchan has presented a convincing argument of how the future might unfold. Homeland security must not stand in the way of efforts to address the more dangerous challenge of the return to rivalry between the world's power centers. All this comes together in the final chapter with the closing sentence "It is now the task of those convinced by the warnings to get on with the difficult, but essential, duty of preparing for the end of the American era." This book has as its prime audience policy makers and decision-makers. Personally, I think every American voter should read this book and understand that voting for the person who blows his trumpet loudest is not going to put the most enlightened leader in the White House and without enlightened leadership we will most certainly see the end of the American era soon. Then it is likely to be a very ugly world.
Although this may be so, his book gains more of its worth in his criticisms of past theorist of "grand strategy" then it is for his dubious prediction of the "next" superpower (the EU). I picked this book up around Christmas/New Years 2002. I was away from school and I had nothing to do, so I thought some light reading was in order.
Kupchan first discusses the "grand strategies" of past years, covering over all the favorites, from Nye, Fukuuyama, and Huntington. Of course, all these visions have something wrong with them and Kupchan points out some token things durring his first chapter. The United State will not have the ability to behave in a 'hegemonic' manner forever, thus, why not shape the world in a manner we would like it to be run when we're old feeble men (and women).
This is essentially Kupchan's theme throughout the entire text. It may very well be a wise course, however, I fail to see how Kupchan can determine accurately, in which manner the US is to lead its declining hegemonic power. It seems a bit absurd to criticize past grand strategies and then toute one yourself.
The grand strategy is really one thing, that is state planning. However, whereas we know state planning of the economy is a bad thing, it seems state planning of politics is not. Many times Kupchan discusses the "confusion" of the Clinton adminstration and then the even greater confusion of the Bush 2nd adminstration. This is all well and good, but confusion presumes that these administrations were behaving in some sort of grand strategic manner.
It would seem more likelly that these administrations behaved on a case by case basis. Kupchan points out how Bush 2nd at one point demanded Israeli withdrawl from the West bank, only to then state some time later that Ariel Sharon was a man of peace (p. 17).
Well, although what precise event Dr. Kupchan is referring to I am unsure, it seems that Bush's second response was prompted by some lack of resolve on the Palestinians side to prevent suicide bombing. This pattern is familiar to anyone who observes middle east politics.
Getting back to the main critique, one should observe that no wonderfully pre-planned grand strategy united the US, USSR, China, UK, and France. Certanily, if one were to ask a political "scientist" of the 1920s or 30s, I doubt he would have envisioned that such a grand alliance of nations would have ever formed.
The same goes for NATO, these institutions were reactions to events (many cases unforseen) and were not engineered institutions. If we look at history of certain planned institutions/agreements, we see that such entities rarely work properly and ultimitly fail. A good example is the Gold Standard/Bretton Woods peg systems. The Gold standard cease to work almost immediatly after it was implemented...,and the Bretton Woods system did not even last 30 years.
It seems that men rarely possess the facaulty to forsee all the possible changes that may occur in 10 year, much less 30 - 40 years. Thus, these grand strategies almost become inconsequential after several years their published.
Anyways, although Kupchan falls into this trap, one should not ignore some of the keen observations he makes in this book. He was one of the first that predicted the tran-atlantic rift would become more or less permenant. He was stating this at a time when Neo-cons were stating the "europeans will fall in line if we push hard enough."
Also, Kupchan's historical deconstruction and analysis is very intresting. Kupchan seems to believe we can use past events in history and sort of "graft" them onto contemporary politics. Although I doubt this is true, it makes for great reading. A wonderful analogy Dr. Kupchan makes is comparing the trans-atlantic rift to the split between Rome and Constantinople. I thought that his historical analogy was at the very least insightful as a paradigm if not in policy use.
Ultimitly, I don't agree with Kupchan's views on Europe (recent events with regards to the EU constitution lays credence to the skeptics), yet I can't say taht the book is horrible, thus, I give it 3/5. Its most certainly better then reading some of the ideological garbage comming out of some authors these days.