Review of Quinn Slobodian, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism
Foreign Affairs, May/June 2019, 175-182 publisher version
Neoliberals embraced governance — chiefly at the global level. By going above national borders, they neutralized politics within those borders, so that democratic governments could not obstruct the security and mobility of property. Gradually, despite encountering resistance at every turn, they helped build a world order guided by the principle of “capital first.”
Review of Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro, The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World
The Nation, December 3/10, 2018, 27-32 publisher version
The internationalists of the last century are, it turns out, quite relevant to our current crisis: they helped us get here, and they offer us no way out.
Review of Benjamin Coates, Legalist Empire: International Law and American Foreign Relations in the Early Twentieth Century
H-Diplo, Vol. 19, No. 36 (May 21, 2018) publisher version
American power dramatically expanded not despite but because of the fact that lawyers and law exerted more influence in the making of foreign policy than ever before or since. In turn, the achievement of world power legitimated the new profession of international law, which secured its credentials, at least for a time, as an ally of American exceptionalism.
Review of Pamela Haag, The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture
Times Literary Supplement, July 8, 2016, 9 publisher version
In 1870 Thomas Addis urinated on a rifle before the Ottoman Sultan and saved one of the largest gun businesses in the world.
Review of John A. Thompson, A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role
The National Interest, May 2, 2016 publisher version
In order for the United States to choose world leadership, basic values had to change. Americans had to accept military force as essential to world order, and the willingness to use it as the definition of enlightened ‘internationalism’ rather than European-style imperialism.
Review of Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday
The Nation, April 22, 2013, 35-37 publisher version
Are propositions this tepid all that the abundance of human experience has to teach us? Somehow Diamond’s experiences in New Guinea and his scouring of anthropological literature landed him exactly where substantial numbers of Americans were already heading, right down to the slow-food movement. “Traditional societies tell their own stories and yield their own conclusions,” Diamond says, but his book blatantly filters those stories for conclusions compatible with the values and structures of his own society.
Review of Edward Luttwak, The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy
The Nation, December 10, 2012, 29 publisher version
What is to be taken seriously about The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy is the credibility its kind of reasoning may command in the United States. If US policymakers buy Luttwak’s line and China’s military keeps growing, it would be a small step to conclude that the country is hopelessly autistic and must be contained.
Review of Roger Petersen, Western Intervention in the Balkans
H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences (May 2012) publisher version
Far from opposing rational choice theory, Petersen is out to save it from its own excesses. He translates Western intervention in the Balkans into a series of “games” in which local “political entrepreneurs” choose to cooperate or defect. He wants to add emotions without sacrificing all-important “rigor and parsimony.” He must say enough about the Balkans to seem to convey the causes and impacts of popular emotions, but not so much as to undermine the apparent transportability and predictive value of his theory. Rational choice with a human face: does he — could anyone — succeed?
Review of Michael Adas, ed., Essays on Twentieth-Century History
New Global Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1 (April 2011) publisher version
If we must continue to refer to a “twentieth century” in world history, let us understand that we do not really mean it, that what we intend is to mark the beginnings of a period that interests us precisely because we think we are living through it now and therefore has a future and an ending we cannot foresee.
Review of Charles Maier, Among Empires: American Ascendency and Its Predecessors
Harvard International Review (May 2006) publisher version
Empires and nation-states may be conceived as two ideal types that bound a range of combinations in between. If so, no wonder Maier is compelled to punt on whether the United States is an empire. The matter is less yes-or-no than to-what-extent.