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The Irony of Manifest Destiny
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About the Author

William Pfaff is the author of 8 books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history. They include Barbarian Sentiments: America in the New Century, which was a finalist for the 1989 National Book Award, and which Ronald Steel called "a work of moral passion and striking insight by America's best foreign-affairs columnist." The late Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. said "William Pfaff is Walter Lippmann's authentic heir. Like Lippmann, he places the rush of events in historical and cultural perspective and writes about them with lucidity and grace." For 25 years, Pfaff wrote a column for the International Herald Tribune, and his essays and articles have appeared widely, in the New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Harper's, and Foreign Affairs. He lives in Paris.

Reviews

In his brilliant new essay on American foreign policy, Pfaff has applied his prudent realist vision to deconstructing the "tragedy" of America's global interventionism . . . This is a book by an American looking from the outside in that needs to be read by every political leader and thinker caught on the inside looking out.Benjamin R. Barber, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos, author, Consumed and Jihad vs. McWorld Eleanor Roosevelt once said that wishful thinking was America's 'besetting sin.' In an era of seemingly permanent war, when the doctrine of American exceptionalism and the manifest destiny of the United States reigns virtually unchallenged in Washington, William Pfaff's lucid, dismayed commentary on the follies of such triumphalism has been an island of reason in the imperial sea. If his prescriptions . . . had been followed, the United States and the world would be in a far, far better situation. As things stand, though, Pfaff's clarity and rigor at least offer posterity a way of understanding what actually happened, and why, when national power and national blindness combined to lead the United States down the path of utopian nationalism and in the process become both a danger to the world and to itself.David Rieff, author of At The Point of a Gun In an age of charlatans and poseurs, William Pfaff has long stood for realism and sobriety. With its penetrating critique of the secular utopianism that perverts American statecraft, The Irony of Manifest Destiny affirms his standing as our wisest critic of U.S. foreign policy.Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power and Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War "In an age of charlatans and poseurs, William Pfaff has long stood for realism and sobriety. With its penetrating critique of the secular utopianism that perverts American statecraft, The Irony of Manifest Destiny affirms his standing as our wisest critic of U.S. foreign policy." --Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power and Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War"Eleanor Roosevelt once said that wishful thinking was America's 'besetting sin.' In an era of seemingly permanent war, when the doctrine of American exceptionalism and the manifest destiny of the United States reigns virtually unchallenged in Washington, William Pfaff's lucid, dismayed commentary on the follies of such triumphalism has been an island of reason in the imperial sea. If his prescriptions, which hearken back to the America of foreign policy commonsense--that is, to George Kennan rather than George W. Bush, and, alas Barack Obama too--had been followed, the United States and the world would be in a far, far better situation. As things stand, though, Pfaff's clarity and rigor at least offer posterity a way of understanding what actually happened, and why, when national power and national blindness combined to lead the United States down the path of utopian nationalism and in the process become both a danger to the world and to itself." --David Rieff, author of At The Point of a Gun"Anyone fortunate enough to have read the International Herald Tribune over the last several decades knows William Pfaff as the thoughtful and original American heir to George Kennan's sober Niebuhurian realism. Now, in his brilliant new essay on American foreign policy, Pfaff has applied his prudent realist vision to deconstructing the "tragedy" of America's global interventionism. In the name of what he calls "secular utopianism," Pfaff sees in America's increasingly imperialist foreign policy a residue of Enlightenment exceptionalism - America as a beacon of liberty and democracy's global "keeper." He shows persuasively why al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism are less perilous than we think, why our interventions in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan are successors to the futility of Vietnam, and why - despite his new spirit of multilateralism - President Obama is caught up in overseas policies likely to fail. This is a book by an American looking from the outside in that needs to be read by every political leader and thinker caught on the inside looking out - most of all by President Obama, who celebrates Niebuhr in theory but seems caught up in the insidious practices of Dick Cheney and George Bush, Jr." --Benjamin R. Barber, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos, author, Consumed and Jihad vs. McWorld In an age of charlatans and poseurs, William Pfaff has long stood for realism and sobriety. With its penetrating critique of the secular utopianism that perverts American statecraft, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny" affirms his standing as our wisest critic of U.S. foreign policy. "Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power and Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War" Eleanor Roosevelt once said that wishful thinking was America's besetting sin.' In an era of seemingly permanent war, when the doctrine of American exceptionalism and the manifest destiny of the United States reigns virtually unchallenged in Washington, William Pfaff's lucid, dismayed commentary on the follies of such triumphalism has been an island of reason in the imperial sea. If his prescriptions, which hearken back to the America of foreign policy commonsense--that is, to George Kennan rather than George W. Bush, and, alas Barack Obama too--had been followed, the United States and the world would be in a far, far better situation. As things stand, though, Pfaff's clarity and rigor at least offer posterity a way of understanding what actually happened, and why, when national power and national blindness combined to lead the United States down the path of utopian nationalism and in the process become both a danger to the world and to itself. "David Rieff, author of At The Point of a Gun" Anyone fortunate enough to have read the "International Herald Tribune" over the last several decades knows William Pfaff as the thoughtful and original American heir to George Kennan's sober Niebuhurian realism. Now, in his brilliant new essay on American foreign policy, Pfaff has applied his prudent realist vision to deconstructing the "tragedy" of America's global interventionism. In the name of what he calls "secular utopianism," Pfaff sees in America's increasingly imperialist foreign policy a residue of Enlightenment exceptionalism America as a beacon of liberty and democracy's global "keeper." He shows persuasively why al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism are less perilous than we think, why our interventions in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan are successors to the futility of Vietnam, and why despite his new spirit of multilateralism President Obama is caught up in overseas policies likely to fail. This is a book by an American looking from the outside in that needs to be read by every political leader and thinker caught on the inside looking out most of all by President Obama, who celebrates Niebuhr in theory but seems caught up in the insidious practices of Dick Cheney and George Bush, Jr. "Benjamin R. Barber, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos, author, Consumed and Jihad vs. McWorld"" "In an age of charlatans and poseurs, William Pfaff has long stood for realism and sobriety. With its penetrating critique of the secular utopianism that perverts American statecraft, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny" affirms his standing as our wisest critic of U.S. foreign policy." --"Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power and Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War""Eleanor Roosevelt once said that wishful thinking was America's 'besetting sin.' In an era of seemingly permanent war, when the doctrine of American exceptionalism and the manifest destiny of the United States reigns virtually unchallenged in Washington, William Pfaff's lucid, dismayed commentary on the follies of such triumphalism has been an island of reason in the imperial sea. If his prescriptions, which hearken back to the America of foreign policy commonsense--that is, to George Kennan rather than George W. Bush, and, alas Barack Obama too--had been followed, the United States and the world would be in a far, far better situation. As things stand, though, Pfaff's clarity and rigor at least offer posterity a way of understanding what actually happened, and why, when national power and national blindness combined to lead the United States down the path of utopian nationalism and in the process become both a danger to the world and to itself." --"David Rieff, author of At The Point of a Gun""Anyone fortunate enough to have read the "International Herald Tribune" over the last several decades knows William Pfaff as the thoughtful and original American heir to George Kennan's sober Niebuhurian realism. Now, in his brilliant new essay on American foreign policy, Pfaff has applied his prudent realist vision to deconstructing the "tragedy" of America's global interventionism. In the name of what he calls "secular utopianism," Pfaff sees in America's increasingly imperialist foreign policy a residue of Enlightenment exceptionalism - America as a beacon of liberty and democracy's global "keeper." He shows persuasively why al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism are less perilous than we think, why our interventions in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan are successors to the futility of Vietnam, and why - despite his new spirit of multilateralism - President Obama is caught up in overseas policies likely to fail. This is a book by an American looking from the outside in that needs to be read by every political leader and thinker caught on the inside looking out - most of all by President Obama, who celebrates Niebuhr in theory but seems caught up in the insidious practices of Dick Cheney and George Bush, Jr." --"Benjamin R. Barber, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos, author, Consumed and Jihad vs. McWorld" "In an age of charlatans and poseurs, William Pfaff has long stood for realism and sobriety. With its penetrating critique of the secular utopianism that perverts American statecraft, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny" affirms his standing as our wisest critic of U.S. foreign policy."-Andrew J. Bacevich, author of "The Limits of Power" and "Washington"" Rules: America's Path to Permanent War""""Eleanor Roosevelt once said that wishful thinking was America's 'besetting sin.' In an era of seemingly permanent war, when the doctrine of American exceptionalism and the manifest destiny of the United States reigns virtually unchallenged in Washington, William Pfaff's lucid, dismayed commentary on the follies of such triumphalism has been an island of reason in the imperial sea. If his prescriptions, which hearken back to the America of foreign policy commonsense-that is, to George Kennan rather than George W. Bush, and, alas Barac

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