Robert Kagan's Of Paradise and Power was published in January 2003. The book is in fact an extension of the author's article Power and Weakness which appeared in the Policy Review in June 2002. In his book, Kagan presents a very interesting point of view. He shows that, whether Europeans or Americans want to accept it or not, everybody has to recognize objectively, that American and European interests are sharply diverging today and that the transatlantic relationship has changed after the end of the Cold War. Kagan thinks Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus and this is unfortunately not a transitory situation: it has actually been developing in both American and European geopolitics since the collapse of the USSR and September 11th has only made it more obvious for the international community. The major reason for this divergence is the power gap between the two sides of the Atlantic. America's power, that is its military capability, is not comparable to the European one. With its technology, its weapons and military forces, its finance, the US are much more powerful than the European Union, which seems weak today.
[...] He tries to explain the current situation not only with what happened in the recent years but also by taking into account the whole history of Europe and America, from illumination of September 11th, passing through the two World Wars, the Cold War and the post-Cold War era. That is why he organizes his argument by distinguishing historical, geopolitical and psychological explanations of the present state of affairs. Kagan explains Europe and the US have different experiences which lead not only to a material power gap between them, but also to an ideological gap in their “strategic culture”. [...]
[...] Kagan's thesis about the disparity of power between Europe and America cannot be fully understood unless it's combined with the definition of power he's using. Kagan is a “neo-conservative” and a realist, which explains the material vision of power presented in the book. Supposing there are four types of power in the academic debate the Dahl's material and behavioural power, the Crenson's “agenda setting” power, the Lukes and Gramsci's type (“ideological hegemony”) and the Foucault's social- constructivist power (power is a product of “subject positions” and discourses) it is clear that Kagan considers power as mainly a material capability (other visions of power are minor or ignored in his thesis). [...]
[...] By using Kant and Hobbes, Kagan wants to show the differences between Europe and America, but this metaphor, in a way, “polarizes” the world. Furthermore, using the psychologies of power and weakness, even if it is an interesting intellectual construction, seems to be distant from reality. Kagan does not even consider the idea that the reason why Europe blames military interventions, may not be just because it's weak, but because it simply wants to be weak, having peace and cooperation as foundations of today's European policy. [...]
[...] When he explains how Europe has gone power by building the EU and rejecting its (the power politics of the earlier centuries), he adds that is the integration and taming of Germany that is the great accomplishment of Europe” and that the US played an important role in solving the “German problem”. He thinks it was military destruction of Nazi Germany” that was the “prerequisite for the European peace that followed” and that the “miracle” of the integration was built on the fact the “German lion has lain down with the French lamb”. [...]
[...] This is the case for those who want America to join organizations such as the International Criminal Court and to respect international law much less selectively that it's being done today. Moreover, in Europe itself, divergence between countries is also important. In 2002, many states didn't share the French and German point of view and supported the US in its decision to invade Iraq. It was the case for Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, but also for the new member-states like Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic (although they did it for different reasons). [...]
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