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Politics of the Moment
If America's Cold War presidents had adopted Bush's strategic post-9/11 strategic outlook, they would have attacked the Soviet Union at some point during the long standoff, on the grounds that Communism was the "root cause" of many problems. If Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had thought the way Bush did while planning the strategy for World War II, they would not have formed an alliance with the Soviet Union in order to beat Nazi Germany, because Communism, especially Josef Stalin's version of it, was evil, too. They might even have declared war on both Russia and Germany--and, in their high moral dudgeon, suffered catastrophic defeat.
The great divide in thinking about American foreign policy these past few years is not so much between Realists and Neoconservatives; it's between realists (with a small r) and fantasists. The split lies not in what is desirable over the long run but in what is possible here and now. It is a debate about not so much what America should do as what it can do--bout the limits of American power in the post-Cold War world, about whether there are limits, about the way the world works.
--Fred Kaplan, via a Slate excerpt of his new book
"Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power"