Tuesday, October 17, 2006

U.S. has always been a "dangerous nation"

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts :: Outward Bound : The U.S. has always been a "dangerous nation" on the world stage. BY BRENDAN SIMMS

"Mr. Kagan is much too subtle a writer to make direct comparisons with our own times, but they are ubiquitous in "Dangerous Nation"--hiding, as it were, in plain sight. Thus he speaks of Benjamin Franklin's plans for a "pre-emptive strike" against the French in the 1750s, by expelling them from Quebec before they could overrun the 13 colonies.

the book is also intended for Democrats, who may at first hate it. They will bristle at the breezy triumphalism with which Mr. Kagan chronicles the annexations that completed the union. They will think it no coincidence that Mr. Kagan's 19th-century heroes are mostly Republicans, and they will sharpen their knives for the second volume.

But they may want to think before they strike. As it happens, Democrats have special reason to look forward to the 20th-century sequel, for Mr. Kagan's narrative of American power is, in many ways, the story of their own party. Soon enough, the torch will pass to Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy and, if we think of NATO's belated Balkan intervention, even Bill Clinton. "

Mr. Simms teaches modern European history at the Centre of International Studies, Cambridge University. Kagan's book "Dangerous Nation"

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