John Hulsman and Anatol Lieven's book Ethical Realism was reviewed in the New York Times.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, the former deputy secretary of defense, has a lot of explaining to do — and not just him but the whole circle of neoconservatives whose advocacy of democracy-promotion-through-blitzkrieg has enmeshed us in the poisonous hatreds of Iraq. They couldn’t have done a better job of discrediting the “forward leaning” foreign policy they preached if they had set out to sabotage it.
You can trace the fortunes of this visionary conception of America’s role in the world through recent books. President Bush’s muscular and militarized response to 9/11 was accompanied by its own 21-gun salute: Robert Kagan’s “Of Paradise and Power”; John Lewis Gaddis’s “Surprise, Security, and the American Experience”; and Walter Russell Mead’s “Power, Terror, Peace, and War,” a celebration of the convergence of Wilsonian idealism, “millennial capitalism” and scorn for multilateral institutions.
Bush’s second term in office has generated even more policy literature than his first. But now that it turns out we have leaned forward into a haymaker, the spirit of these new texts — “The Opportunity,” by Richard N. Haass; “America at the Crossroads,” by Francis Fukuyama; “The Good Fight,” by Peter Beinart; “The New American Militarism,” by Andrew J. Bacevich — has been rueful, weary and often bitter. Traditional conservatives, shocked out of their habitual caution by 9/11, have begun to recoil from the consequences of the campaign they consented to join. We have reached a “breaking ranks” moment; and it’s far from over.
Ethical Realism represents yet another turn of the doctrinal wheel. One of the authors, Anatol Lieven, is a brilliant, fiery pamphleteer of the left who has described the neoconservative enterprise as “world hegemony by means of absolute military superiority.” The other, John Hulsman, is a former fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who supported the war in Iraq and applauded Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s rhetorical partition of Europe into the anti-American, played-out “old” and the rising, pro-Washington “new.” The fact that these two thinkers have found enough common ground to write a book together is an astonishingly perverse achievement of neoconservative theory and practice. It has also become something of an inside-the-think-tanks cause célèbre, since Hulsman has said Heritage fired him soon after the book project was announced.