Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Seeing the Elephant: The U.S. Role in Global Security

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Seeing the Elephant: The U.S. Role in Global Security

Article excerpt

Seeing the Elephant: The U.S. Role in Global Security by Hans Binnendijk and Richard L. Kugler. National Defense University Press and Potomac Books (http://www.potomacbooksinc.com) , 22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, Virginia 20166, 2007, 336 pages, $48.00 (hardcover), $24.00 (softcover) .

Essentially a book of book reviews from the mid1990s through 2005, Seeing the Elephant offers a fantastic starting point for any student of US security and the role the United States has played in world affairs since the downfall of the Soviet Union. Detailing and synopsizing over 60 books written since that event, the authors attempt to capture the development of US global strategic thought in the postcold-war environment. Using the analogy of an elephant as described by blind men, each one "seeing" only that part he can touch, the reviews reveal a different approach to the US role in global security.

The authors further classify the books by using a Kantian or Hobbesian position regarding their optimistic or pessimistic outlooks. For the uninitiated, the authors provide a quick description of both philosophers. On the optimistic side, Immanuel Kant, a Prussian philosopher who lived in the 1700s, focused on the spread of the rule of law and constitutional republics as key components leading to a peaceful world. On the pessimistic side, Thomas Hobbes, a British philosopher of the 1600s, believed in strong central governments, whether democratic or not, as the key to ensuring security of the state and, thus, peace through strength when dealing with other states. …

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