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Capsule Review

Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century

In This Review

Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century

Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century
By Robert S. Mcnamara and James G. Blight
PublicAffairs, 2001 240 pp. $25.00 Purchase

In this passionate call for a new world order, McNamara and Blight write that the twentieth century ended without a solution to the wars and communal violence that made it the bloodiest century in history. Inspired by Woodrow Wilson's idealism and vision of collective security -- but also sensitive to his missteps -- the authors propose a controversial agenda of nuclear disarmament, multilateral security cooperation, and integration of non-Western great powers into a stable and morally legitimate order. In their view, the return to realpolitik diplomacy is dangerous and incompatible with a tightly wired global economy. China and Russia must be integrated with the Western powers as fully as Germany and France were reconciled and bound together after 1945. In confronting ethnic violence and failed states, the United States should demonstrate "realistic empathy," foreswear unilateral intervention, rely on collective leadership of alliance partners, and support a United Nations capable of deploying its own volunteer police force. Rather than build a missile defense, Washington should gradually phase out nuclear weapons. It is surprising that the authors do not explore how the global democratic revolution has altered geopolitics and the opportunities for new security thinking. But their book is sure to provoke debate.

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