No practical solutions

by | May 15, 2015 | Book Reviews

America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder
Bret Stephens
Sentinel, 2014
269 pages, $27.95
ISBN 978-1-59184-662-8

Bret Stephens, is a Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent and deputy editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal and former editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post.

America in Retreat, essentially a jeremiad against Barack Obama’s conduct of foreign policy, cherry-picks history to support a not particularly creative work, one that reflects current Republican attacks on the President. Not that Republicans, Libertarians, other fiscal conservatives and the war-weary get off scot-free. Stephens distinguishes sharply between “decline’ (which America is not in) and “retreat” (which America is dangerously in).

The reluctant letting go of its imperial posture by Great Britain, beginning in 1945, is offered as an example of decline, as the exhausted country, recovering from the loss of more than 400,000 citizens and soldiers, was reduced to a second-tier nation. At least 10 examples of America’s retreat are offered, ranging from our failure to respond to post-electoral demonstrations in Iran; failure to apply the right pressure to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict; failure to act when Syria crossed the “red-line,” and so on.

Fixated with the theory of “broken windows,” (wherein allowing initial disorder leads to total anarchy) and over-reliant on policing the world, America in Retreat, gives the appearance of being well-researched, but fails to offer practical solutions to its fast paced litany of impending disaster.

Stephens and Navon share similar views of the world and their books compliment each other.

—Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for more than 30 years.