Ruta de navegación
Menú de navegación
[Robert Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back. America and Our Imperiled World. Alfred A. Knoff. New York, 2018. 179 p.]
review / Emili J. Blasco
At this point in the century, it is already clear that the consecration of the liberal system in the world, after the breakup of the communist bloc at the end of the Cold War, is not something that will happen inexorably, as was thought. It's not even likely. The divergent models of China and Russia are gaining traction. Democracy is in retreat, even in Western societies themselves.
It is the jungle that grows again where a garden had been extended. This is the image that Robert Kagan uses in his new book to warn about the desirability of the United States not shirking its responsibility to lead the effort to preserve the liberal world order. For Kagan, the liberal system "was never a natural phenomenon," but a "great historical aberration." "It has been an anomaly in the history of human existence. The liberal world order is fragile and not permanent. Like a garden, it is always besieged by the natural forces of history, the jungle, whose vines and weeds constantly threaten to cover it," he says. It is an "artificial creation subject to the forces of geopolitical inertia," so that the question "is not what will bring down the liberal order, but what can sustain it."
Kagan is outlived in the media by the label He is a neoconservative, although his positions are in the central current of American Republicanism (majority for decades, until the rise of Donald Trump; in fact, in the 2016 campaign Kagan supported Hillary Clinton) and his work is developed at the rather Democratic Brookings Institution. He does defend clear U.S. leadership in the world, but not out of self-assertion, but as the only way for the liberal international order to be preserved. It is not that, by sponsoring it, the United States has acted disinterestedly, because as one of its builders, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, said, in order to protect the "American experiment in life" it was necessary to create "an environment of freedom" in the world. But the other Western countries, and others where the regime of freedoms of democratic societies has also been extended, have also benefited.
The thesis Kagan's central point is that, although there was America's own interest in creating the international architecture that ordered the world after World War II, it benefited many other countries and guaranteed the victory of free societies over communism. Crucial to this, according to Kagan, is that while Washington at times acted against the values it preached, it generally played by certain rules.
Thus, the U.S. "did not exploit the system it dominated to gain lasting economic advantages at the expense of the other powers of order. Put simply: he could not use his military dominance to win the economic competition against other members of the order, nor could he treat the competition as zero-sum and insist on always winning. It's true that the U.S. benefited from being the main player both economically and militarily, "but an element of core topic to hold the international order together was the perception of the other powers that they had reasonable opportunities to succeed economically and even sometimes surpass the United States, as Japan, Germany, and other nations did at various times."
Kagan admits that Washington's willingness to engage in large doses of fairplay on the economic plane "did not extend to all areas, particularly not to strategic issues." In these, "order was not always based on rules, because when the United States deemed it necessary, rightly or wrongly, it violated the rules, including those it claimed to defend, either by carrying out military interventions without UN authorization, as it did on numerous occasions during the Cold War, or by engaging in covert activities that had no international backing."
It has been an order that, in order to function, "had to enjoy a certain Degree of voluntary acceptance by its members, not to be a competition of all against all, but a community of like-minded nations acting together to preserve a system from which all could benefit." "Order was kept in place because the other members viewed U.S. hegemony as relatively benign and superior to other alternatives." test This is why the countries of Western Europe trusted Washington despite its overwhelming military superiority. "In the end, even if it didn't always do so for idealistic reasons, the United States would end up creating a world unusually conducive to the spread of democracy."
Kagan disagrees with the view that after the dissolution of the USSR, the planet entered a "new world order." In his view, what was called the "unipolar moment" did not actually change the assumptions of the order established at the end of World War II. That is why it made no sense that, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world was thought to be entering a new era of unstoppable peace and prosperity, and that this made America's role as a gardener unnecessary. The withdrawal from the world carried out by Trump and initiated by Obama (Kagan already in 2012 published The World America Made, in defense of American involvement in the world), would be allowing the return of the chaotic vegetation of the jungle.
The Jungle Grows Back is in the format of a small book, typical of a essay It is a restrained film that aspires to convey some fundamental ideas without wanting to overwhelm the reader. Despite pointing out the dangers of the liberal order, and noting that the United States is in retreat, the book offers an optimistic message: "This is a pessimistic view of human existence, but it is not a fatalistic view. Nothing is determined, neither the triumph of liberalism nor its defeat."