For Kagan, it is crucial to show that America’s early adventures abroad were not elite conspiracies, but moral undertakings with broad popular support ... What is staggering about Kagan’s account is how it mirrors the original version propounded by the Allied victors in 1919. While Kagan succeeds brilliantly in calling up the emotional temperature of the period, he studiously neglects the wider picture ... It appears difficult for Kagan’s worldview to accept that there may be problems American power cannot resolve alone.
In his judicious, vibrant The Ghost at the Feast... Robert Kagan excavates the transformational early decades of the 20th century and the nation's rocky emergence onto the global stage ... A briskly written, engaging tutorial at a moment when foreign policy has again run aground in the shallow waters of our self-absorption.
Where Kagan once insisted that neoconservatism was a birthright, now he wants to illuminate what goes wrong when Americans agonizingly give it up. Whatever his intentions, Kagan proves that interventionism is difficult to generate and sustain ... More than at any time in his career, Kagan also registers interventionism’s costs and implausibilities even as he doubles down on it ... Kagan provides a half-sympathetic reading of those who claimed that our wars would require the very kind of imperialism that Americans believed only other countries practiced ... That Kagan acknowledges these concerns, even if it’s only to repeat his interventionist credo, reflects a remarkable change in the intellectual climate. It is much more difficult today to make the case for a 'neocon nation' without recognizing the peaceful alternative.
Where the author really begins to make his thesis for the book stand out is the analysis of the interwar years from 1919–1939 ... Kagan makes a compelling case that a deliberate use of American economic might, combined with some level of force backed diplomacy might have arrested the rise of fascism and ultimately Nazism in Europe.
Kagan is a fine writer and an indefatigable researcher. His book is the product of a monumental amount of work ... Two words, however, do not appear: 'Iraq' and 'Ukraine' ... A malevolent xenophobia lurks in the DNA of the G.O.P. ... It will emerge when someone in Congress... utters the cry 'What’s in it for us?' The answer, in riveting detail, is in Kagan’s book. I recommend it.
Kagan cogently examines what he considers certain inevitabilities... while delivering novel interpretations of events ... An insightful study of the birth of the American empire and the resulting 'American century.'