The Return of History

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

We've been known to marvel at the notoriety of a few families, no member of which isn't famous or successful. There are, of course, the Feldmans: Noah, Simon, and Ezra. The Kristols: Irving, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and William. And the Kagans: Donald, Robert, Frederick, and Kimberly.

Last November, just before Thanksgiving, one of my colleagues, Susan Lund, wondered aloud about what holiday dinners must be like in the Feldman, Kagan and Kristol households. In between courses, do the Feldmans argue about policy, philosophy, and poetry? Do the Kagans draft statements of principles over turkey and gravy?

On today's program, in the second hour, we'll talk to Robert Kagan about his newest book, The Return of History and the End of Dreams. (If you haven't read it yet, check out the article on which it was based.) If you have a question for him, about how countries can shape history — or how they can be shaped by it —, leave it here.

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Please describe who is Kagan.

"Kagan is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was one of the signers of the January 26, 1998, "PNAC Letter" sent to US President Bill Clinton, promoting regime change in Iraq.[7] Robert's brother Frederick and father Donald are also affiliated with PNAC."

Sent by Jeff | 3:23 PM | 6-16-2008

I'm hearing kind of an uncritical acceptance of the idea that the U.S. is an innocent bystander in the "power politics" that characterize the modern world. Despite Mr. Kagan's dismissal of the democratic nature of Chavez' rise to power, it seems to me it was quite a bit more democratic than Bush II's rise to power. Since 2000 not only have we seen our own liberties diminished here, we've also been the perpetrator of some of the worst examples of "power politics" worldwide. It seems to me if we want to know where the resurgence of power politics is coming from, a good place to start is by looking in the mirror.

Sent by Jason | 3:27 PM | 6-16-2008

Wow..it is Republican day again. We learned that the Republicans have made the economy better and they are deluded by the media. We learned America is great and that all this talk about world dissatisfaction is more delusion. The war was just a minor oversight because a neo-con said the whole problem in Iraq was "the failure no NOT FIND WMD". The problem couldn't possibly be because of the actions of the administration to subvert democracy. This guy is NOT an academic but a right wing think tank employee.

Sent by kent strock | 3:49 PM | 6-16-2008

A factual error: Iran is not currently an autocracy; it was when it was a US ally under the Shah. I wouldn't call Iran a "democracy," either, but there has always been a continuum between "democracy" and "autocracy," and Iran is somewhere in the middle.

Populist regimes, such as Venezuela's are also improperly lumped into the "autocracy" camp; most populists are elected because their countries elites are seen as corrupt, with interests antithetical to the country's populace.

In any case, Bush is pretty much universally seen as someone who invaded a country (an oil-exporting country) for absolutely fabricated reasons.

Sent by Ed C | 5:56 PM | 6-16-2008

Did it slip someone's mind to mention that Kagen is foreign policy aid for MC CAIN???? If you want to consider a more honest book, tho only marginally better along these lines read Francis Fukayama.

Sent by kent strock | 7:19 PM | 6-16-2008

When do we get to hear from a left-wing, think-tank, propagandist, hack to balance out Kagan? Here's a vote for the resurgence of the Fairness Doctrine on NPR. As a longtime donor, I'm starting to wonder about the journalistic ethics my dollars are failing to support.

Also, I would like to thank the caller who asked, paraphrasing, "just exactly whose dream does your title refer to?" Mr. Kagan must have quite the warped definition of "everyone."

Sent by Scott | 9:54 PM | 6-16-2008

Kagan may be a "scholar", but he is also--as co-founder of PNAC--one of the "authors" of the ongoing atrocity in Iraq that has eviscerated the economy, security and moral authority of the United States. His indignant denials and protestations cannot erase the fact that he and his neocon friends have much blood on their hands. The people know and will remember.

NPR shames itself by providing a platform for this man and his catastrophic "ideas".

Sent by michael | 11:01 AM | 6-17-2008

The text intro to this piece is absolutely ridiculous! I am guessing they spend their holiday's discussing how trust funds and nepotism are going to be used to maintain their symbolic power through intellectually dishonest "think tanks". Kagan would be ripped to pieces in an academic political theory forum.

Sent by kent strock | 1:59 PM | 6-17-2008