In This Review

America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy
America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy
By Francis Fukuyama
240 pp, Yale University Press, 2006

In this important and clear-sighted book, Fukuyama offers one of the best available concise histories and explanations of the neoconservative movement and its chief ideas, places himself firmly within that movement, and then goes on to register his strong and passionate dissent from the interpretation of the neoconservative approach to foreign policy that characterized George W. Bush's first term. Having broken with his former friends and colleagues over the Iraq war (from which Fukuyama dissented on pragmatic rather than principled grounds), he argues that Bush administration neoconservatives have wound up repudiating a central element in the original neoconservative body of doctrine: skepticism about the power of government to perform large tasks of social engineering. It is precisely and ironically this, Fukuyama points out, that the "official" neoconservatives of the Bush era have ended up attempting to achieve in Iraq. Although maintaining that his own version of the faith is the true one, Fukuyama does not intend to fight over the neoconservative label. He intends henceforth to sail under the "realist Wilsonian" banner. More and more, American foreign-policy makers and opinion leaders seem headed in this direction; Fukuyama is better able than most to sketch the basic outlines of what he hopes will become a major new pole in American political discourse.