In his most ambitious and accomplished book yet, Brands upends the conventional wisdom on both the right and the left with an insightful perspective on the ways in which U.S. foreign policy in the 1970s and 1980s helped create the vaunted “unipolar moment” of the 1990s. For Brands, the collapse of the Soviet Union was only one facet of a broader transformation brought about by globalization, democratization, and technological change; the Soviet demise was catalyzed but not caused by the policies of the Reagan administration. The broader shifts began well before the Reagan presidency, and the Ford and Carter administrations had already begun to reposition U.S. policy in ways that responded to those changes. Brands emphasizes that the unipolar moment was neither as overwhelming nor as dramatic as many analysts believed in the 1990s, and he does a good job of showing how the same trends that created the halcyon atmosphere at that time would later complicate the work of U.S. strategic planners. Making the Unipolar Moment is both important and engaging; specialists and general-interest readers alike will find it a pleasure to read.
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In This Review
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