America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism

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9780007164561: America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism

A controversial and timely exploration of the dark side of American idealism -- and its potentially dangerous consequences for the world. In this thoughtful critique of America's role in the world, Lieven contends that U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 has been shaped by the special character of its national identity, which embraces two contradictory features. The first, a civic nationalism or 'creed' which espouses liberty and democracy, sometimes irrespective of the needs and desires of others. The other feature, Jacksonian nationalism, has its roots in the defensive White America, and is fed by a profound pessimism and a sense of personal, social, religious, and sectional defeat. Lieven examines how these two opposing impulses have played out in recent US policy and suggests that, in the Middle East in particular, the uneasy combination of policies has gravely undermined U.S. credibility and complicated the war against terrorism. It has never been more vital that we examine the way in which America thinks about itself. Drawing comparisons with earlier European models, he offers powerful insights into alarming elements of the American psyche and their disturbing implications for the coming century. This hard-hitting study directs a spotlight on the American political soul and on the curious mixture of chauvinism and idealism that has been exploited by the Bush administration.

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About the Author:

Anatol Lieven is a prize-winning British writer, journalist and historian who is currently Senior Associate for Foreign and Security Policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. He is the author of three previous books, including The Baltic Revolution, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the recipient of two prizes.

Review:

"A fascinating and incisive analysis of American nationalism."--London Review of Books

"Lieven is relentlessly candid, and has produced a remarkably thought-provoking book.... Tightly written and extensively researched.... A valuable and also a troubling book on a subject that is both crucial and in many ways extremely sensitive."--Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books

"Cogently argued...an important contribution to the discourse on national identity, the war on terror and the nature of political liberalism."--Publishers Weekly

"America Right or Wrong shows a serious intellectual talent and ambition stretching its wings. In particular, Lieven takes on some of the big questions about American identity, ideology and exceptionalism in ways that yield surprising and provocative results.... At its admirable best America Right or Wrong asks important questions and makes readers review some of their own most cherished convictions."--Walter Russell Mead, Washington Post Book World

"This fighting book digs beneath the trauma of 9-11 to uncover the cultural sources of popular support for a blindly aggressive and self-defeating foreign policy. Dazzling and inspiring."--Stephen Holmes, Professor of Politics and Law, New York University School of Law

"Anatol Lieven is one of today's most insightful observers of U.S. foreign policy. In this exceptional book he provides an analysis of the virtues and the dangers of American nationalism that is as provocative as it is perceptive." --Michael Lind, author of The Next American Nation

"A searching examination of the deep-seated sources of American behavior, Anatol Lieven's America Right or Wrong takes on what others evade--the topics that, whether for good or ill, make us who we are and provide the engine of U. S. foreign policy. In pungent, muscular prose, Lieven makes a strong case that the neoconservatives have gotten far too much credit for the course of American policy since 9/11. His chapter on the mutually destructive course of U.S.-Israel relations is not only courageous but powerfully illuminating."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of the forthcoming The New American Militarism

"The author demonstrates that U.S. policy in Afghanistan during the 1980s was a failed attempt to counter Soviet influence and to compensate for the loss in Vietnam skillfully unravels the origins of American nationalism and illuminates its failings and virtues."--Karl Helicher, Foreword Magazine

"Anatol Lieven is one of the most thought provoking and insightful writers in Washington. This book is very much in the same tradition."--Senator Dick Clark, Director of The Congressional Program, The Aspen Institute

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