“Wise counsel for a constructive, tough-minded, and sensible foreign policy. Read and learn.” —GEORGE SHULTZ, U.S. Secretary of State, 1982–1989
The world is tipping into chaos. Why?
In this acclaimed and influential book, Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist Bret Stephens shows how the retreat of American power, orchestrated by Barack Obama, has created the power vacuums now being filled by our enemies. From Vladimir Putin’s quest to restore the old czarist empire, to China’s efforts to dominate the South China Sea, to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to ISIS’s dreams of an Islamic caliphate, we have entered an era in which our foes no longer fear us and our friends no longer trust us.
With his stylistic flair and analytical brilliance, Stephens explains the ideological roots of Obama’s suspicions of American power. He demonstrates how a false belief in American decline has led to a disastrous prescription of retreat, as if the cure for domestic weakness is international weakness. In a prophetic chapter, he warns of what the world could look like in 2019 if we do not change course. And he lays out the right formula for U.S. foreign policy—the same formula that brought order to our once crime-ridden streets.
America in Retreat is shaping the greatest foreign policy debate of our decade.
Stephens, a Pulitzer-winning foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former editor of The Jerusalem Post, eloquently warns of mounting U.S. isolationism and the chaos that may result. This compact volume responds to current concerns, particularly among progressives and libertarians, that the U.S. military is overly committed abroad. Readers of Stephens's WSJ columns will recognize persistent themes: the return of al-Qaeda and the future of Iran; escalating Russian aggression; and Chinese militarism. Others will discover a thoughtful case for Pax Americana. Stephens's lucid review of isolationism starts with Henry Wallace and Sen. Robert A. Taft in the 1940s, giving context to current American thinking on the left and right that "we should not be the world's policeman." He paints Americans as an idealistic yet complacent people who, after expecting too much from winning the Cold War, have ever since felt "fleeced, like a tourist in a Mideast bazaar." We might want to come home and be comfy, but like it or not, Stephens insists, the U.S. will remain the leading world power, and must plan for escalating global disorder. Given the U.S.'s recently renewed commitments in the Middle East, Stephens's clear, convincing apologia for American power will make especially timely reading for American foreign policy's skeptics and opponents.