THE HELL OF GOOD INTENTIONS
By Stephen M. Walt
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 16, 2018
In 1992, the United States stood at the pinnacle of world power and Americans were confident that a new era of peace and prosperity was at hand. Twenty-five years later, those hopes have been dashed. Relations with Russia and China have deteriorated, the European Union is wobbling, and violent extremism is spreading.
The reason for these recurring failures, Stephen M. Walt argues in The Hell of Good Intentions, is the combination of America’s still-unmatched power and the foreign policy establishment’s stubborn consensus around a strategy of “liberal hegemony.” Because the United States is so powerful and secure, it can pursue ambitious foreign policy goals even when they are unnecessary and doomed to fail. Walt exposes the inner workings of the foreign policy elite across the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations and shows how they have been able to avoid accountability, keep discredited ideas and policies in vogue, and maintain influence despite past blunders.
Confronting the failures of three different presidents, Walt makes the case for a fresh approach. As the next president grapples with the consequences of America’s recent misadventures, The Hell of Good Intentions offers both a compelling diagnosis of our current malaise and a prescription for enduring success.
About the Author
Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University. He is the author of The Origins of Alliances; Revolution and War; Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy; and, with John J. Mearsheimer, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. He writes frequently for Foreign Policy.