In This Review

At War With Ourselves: Why America Is Squandering Its Chance to Build a Better World
At War With Ourselves: Why America Is Squandering Its Chance to Build a Better World
By Michael Hirsh
Oxford University Press, 2003, 288 pp
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Whatever one thinks of the Bush administration's foreign policy, the health of the U.S. political system clearly requires the articulation of realistic alternatives. Hirsh, of Newsweek, makes the classically Hamiltonian argument that American interests are best served by a pragmatic blend of military assertiveness and multilateral cooperation. He further burnishes his Hamiltonian credentials with an impassioned attack on export controls on high-tech products; keeping American tech firms competitive is necessary for the nation's long-term economic health and military prowess. Hirsh finds continuities between the Clinton and Bush approaches to foreign policy: both presidents were reluctant nation builders drawn irresistibly into difficult overseas entanglements against their instincts. In both its neoconservative and liberal internationalist incarnations, Hirsh argues, this Wilsonian foreign policy leads the United States toward infinite engagements and the danger of overstretch. The warning against neoconservative overstretch will clearly be a staple in foreign policy debates next year; Democrats looking to challenge the Bush approach while still advocating a robust defense of national interests would do well to consult this book.