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Robert Kagan

an American historian and foreign-policy commentator
When you don't have a hammer, you don't want anything to look like a nail.

Robert Kagan (born 26 September 1958) is a neoconservative American historian and foreign policy commentator.

QuotesEdit

 
American nationalism is not a blood-and-soil nationalism. No one's an American just because they were born in America or had American parents. American nationalism is built around this idea - and it happened to be, certainly at the time, an extremely revolutionary idea that only Americans believed in, by the way, at the time. Which was the principle of universal rights.
  • When you don't have a hammer, you don't want anything to look like a nail.
    • Alternate version: If you don't have a hammer, you don't want anything to look like a nail.
    • Of Paradise and Power, p. 26
    • According to Kagan, this is a variation of the proverb "When you have a hammer, all problems start to look like nails." (p. 25 of the same book)
  • The force de frappe was little more than symbolism; it relieved neither France nor Europe from strategic dependence on the United States...
    • Of Paradise and Power, p. 19
  • The vast majority of Europeans always believed that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was more tolerable than the risk of removing him. But Americans, being stronger, developed a lower threshold of tolerance for Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction.
    • Of Paradise and Power, p. 31
  • The United States was losing interest in preserving European security, but at the same time it was hostile to European aspirations to take on the task themselves. Europeans complained about American perfidy, and Americans complained about European weakness and ingratitude.
    • Of Paradise and Power, p. 43
  • Americans officials have found it hard to believe, but leading officials and politicians in Europe really have worried more about how the United States might handle or mishandle the problem on Iraq — by undertaking unilateral and extralegal military action — than they have ever worried about Iraq itself and Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
    • Of Paradise and Power, p. 61
  • When President Dwight Eisenhower undermined and humiliated Britain and France at Suez in 1956, it was only the most blatant of many American efforts to cut Europe down to size and reduce its already weakening global influence.
    • Of Paradise and Power, p. 72
  • And now, in the final irony, the fact that the US military power has solved the European problem, especially the "German problem", allows Europeans today, and Germans in particular, to believe that American military power, and the "strategic culture" that has created and sustained it, is outmoded and dangerous.
    • Of Paradise and Power, p. 73

2000sEdit

  • American nationalism is not a blood-and-soil nationalism. No one's an American just because they were born in America or had American parents. American nationalism is built around this idea - and it happened to be, certainly at the time, an extremely revolutionary idea that only Americans believed in, by the way, at the time. Which was the principle of universal rights...
  • [T]o say that the United States is bad because it behaves like a group of humans behave I think is a mistake. And I think we have to have more realistic basis of comparison. And this is part of the problem with the myth that we create of ourselves. We create an idealized image of ourselves in the past that we are never living up to in the present, and I think that's an evasion really from facing reality.
  • Americans - one of the founders, Gouverneur Morris, described Americans as the first-born children of the commercial age. Because when American was founded, the ideas of Adam Smith, the ideas of John Locke were dominant. And American was founded on the ethos that individuals should go out and prosper and acquire. And Americans have been trying to acquire ever since, and this does affect American foreign policy. I wouldn't focus particularly on the middle class because I think it's true of all Americans of all classes. And it has shaped American policy.
  • The thing that I find striking, in addition to Americans not being aware always how they are bumping into others and intruding upon others, Americans also - because they have this view - because we have this view that we don't care, that we're really just about minding our own business, then events occur and we surprise ourselves and we do care.

2010sEdit

  • No one sitting in Germany in 1945 would have said, “Oh don’t worry, it’s just natural to become a democracy.”
  • I think people are absolutely dreaming if they think that when the United States pulls out of Europe that Europe will just stay this calm, placid place. I think that we will throw Europe back into the same problem. And you don’t have to talk about Nazis or Hitler or any of that to say the norm in Europe is competition, conflict. And if we think that that’s over, I think that history tells us otherwise. And then again, so do we wind up – can we allow Europe in a way to fail as a liberal system without it affecting us? Again given the level of our trade, given the level of our communication, our involvement with them.

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