Doomed Internationalist (Review of Francis Fukuyama, after the Neocons: America at the Crossroads)

Times Literary Supplement, September 2006

9 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2006 Last revised: 6 Jul 2010

See all articles by Kenneth Anderson

Kenneth Anderson

American University - Washington College of Law

Date Written: June 6, 2010


This review of Francis Fukuyama's widely noticed repudiation of American neoconservatism appeared in the Times Literary Supplement (London). The review praises Fukuyama's sober and careful intellectual history of neoconservatism, and breaks the idea down into seven interrelated propositions. The review considers Fukuyama's argument that neoconservatives violated their own tenets in undertaking the Iraq war, particularly the neoconservative skepticism about grand social engineering projects and the neoconservative belief that these typically lead to unanticipated bad consequences. Fukuyama also argues that the Iraq war and the project of Middle East democratization miss the fundamental point about Islamist extremism, which is that it is primarily a phenomenon of Muslims adrift in modernity in the West, particularly Western Europe, rather than the Middle East. The review accepts much of this critique but uses it to offer a critique of Western multiculturalism, arguing instead for a re-embrace of traditional liberalism - a substantive liberalism that embraces free expression, the rights of women, and values that multiculturalism suppresses. While accepting that the book is persuasive on a neoconservative naivete concerning Iraq and what force can do, it argues that there is a much more sophisticated neoconservatism in the form of realists who came to realize that the acceptance of corrupt, brutal, and repressive authoritarian regimes in the name of stability, accommodation, and containment had paved the way for much of the current Islamist extremism, and that the old realism could no longer serve. This not-naive realism-into-idealism is not really addressed by Fukuyama's critique. In any case, Fukuyama's positive program - a vague multilateralism, what he calls realistic Wilsonianism appears to be simply the traditional liberal internationalism with somewhat less emphasis on the UN; it does not appear to be capable of anything other than ineffectuality.

Keywords: Fukuyama, Iraq war, multiculturalism, Islam, Islamism, jihad, terror, terrorism, neoconservative, neoconservatism, foreign policy, realism, idealism, realistic Wilsonianism, development, political Islam, End of History

JEL Classification: K10, K33

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Kenneth, Doomed Internationalist (Review of Francis Fukuyama, after the Neocons: America at the Crossroads) (June 6, 2010). Times Literary Supplement, September 2006, Available at SSRN:

Kenneth Anderson (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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