Hot Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human-Rights World

Surveying the hardest cases in U.S. foreign policy, Etzioni presents himself as a sort of referee, clarifying the debates and identifying reasonable paths forward. In this collection, his essays on China are particularly penetrating. Etzioni sees China neither as a great threat to the Western-led global order nor as a reliable stakeholder in that order. China, he argues, is seeking to protect its national autonomy and pursue economic development, making it quite comfortable with Westphalian norms of sovereignty and suspicious of liberal interventionism. In the United States’ confrontations with radical Islamist regimes, Etzioni counsels restraint in the hope that moderation will prevail in the end. To address the fiscal and political dysfunctions of the Western postindustrial world, especially in Europe, Etzioni urges a return to the traditions of political solidarity and collective governance within liberal democracies. If there is an overarching theme in the book, it is that the American-led world order is not in upheaval, nor breaking apart into a multipolar system, but rather devolving into more distinct regional groupings. The United States will have less control over events, but no rival state is emerging to impose a new order.

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