In This Review

The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy From 1940 to the Present

The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy From 1940 to the Present
By Christopher Layne
320 pp, Harvard University Press, 2006
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Reluctant Crusaders: Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy

Reluctant Crusaders: Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy
By Colin Dueck
290 pp, Princeton University Press, 2006
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Over the past century, realism and liberalism have been the two warring imperatives behind most U.S. foreign policies. According to these two stimulating new books, the United States and its policymakers have seldom managed to reconcile these two approaches or match ideologically driven liberal projects with the realities of power, interest, and expense.

The United States is struggling with just such a problem at the moment. The administration of George W. Bush, like some of its predecessors, claims to be both realistic and true to American ideals. In 2002, Condoleezza Rice, when she was still national security adviser, asserted that the administration's emphasis on both preventive war and democracy promotion (articulated in its 2002 National Security Strategy) transcended what she called the false academic dichotomy between realism and idealism. "In real life," she declared, "power and values are married completely." And Bush has denigrated skeptics "who call themselves 'realists'" but "have

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  • Jack Snyder is Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies.
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