Robert Kagan has been described as a “neoconservative historian,” and yet the commentator’s views are more complex than can be squeezed into one phrase. Kagan does exhibit some of the hallmarks of neoconservative ideology, including the continued belief in American exceptionalism, and a willingness to use terms like “new world order.” Kagan vehemently opposes the belief that the American hegemon is declining in status and power, admitting only that the United States is rethinking its role in foreign policy and international affairs. Kagan is a foreign policy advisor who Barack Obama has reportedly heralded and cited in presidential speeches. One reviewer of books in The New York Times described the author’s work as being “wonderfully argued.” Another claims that glaring logical fallacies, “fuzzy generalizations, debatable assertions and self-important declarations of the obvious,” generally discredit the international relations maestro. Therefore, Robert Kagan emerges as a highly controversial commentator who, at the very least, has a grasp on the American psyche, fears and all.
II. Author Background
Robert Kagan was born in Athens, NY in 1958. He worked as a political advisor to Congressman Jack Kemp, before joining the Reagan administration. After writing speeches for Secretary of State George Schultz, Kagan became head of the Office of Public Diplomacy, and the Deputy for Policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Kagan also founded the Project for the New American Century, and has authored several books on foreign policy and international relations.
III. Concepts of International Relations
Kagan’s earliest work describes the Reagan administration’s interventionist foreign policies, as in A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990. In this tone, Kagan describes the new world order that Reagan helped to create via the newfound power it wielded after the demise of the Soviet Union. Kagan does not congratulate the Reagan administration, so much as he accepts its decisions as a realist. Indeed, Kagan does emerge as a solid realist. In The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Kagan admits that the world has not magically changed since the Cold War ended, and that the United States plays a strategic role in determining the character of the new world order. “History has returned,” claims Kagan, a direct response to Fukuyama’s assertion that the “end of history” has arrived. Kagan continues, “the democracies must come together to shape it, or others will shape it for them,” referring in part to global trans-national terrorist organizations.
In Of Paradise and Power, Kagan describes the emerging differences between Americans and Europeans as becoming increasingly important to characterizing the new world order. Europeans have retreated into a self-contained economic and political unit, claims Kagan. Kagan somewhat cynically describes the European mentality as being a “post-historical paradise of peace...