William Pfaff is the author of The Irony of Manifest Destiny, published in June 2010 by Walker and Company (New York) -- his tenth and culminating work on international politics and the American destiny. He describes the neglected sources and unforeseen consequences of the tragedy towards which the nation's current effort to remake the world to fit America's measure is leading. His previous books and his articles in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and his syndicated newspaper column, featured for a quarter century in the globally read International Herald Tribune, have made him one of America's most respected and internationally influential interpreters of world affairs.   [Read more...]
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on 2010/5/28 15:50:00 (31015 reads)

THE IRONY OF MANIFEST DESTINY: The Tragedy of American Foreign Policy, New York, Walker and Company, 2010.

William Pfaff’s latest book is an interpretation of the cultural origins of an American outlook that since the Second World War has inspired a series of generally unsuccessful American military interventions into non-western countries, the most dramatic of them the defeat in Vietnam. These culminated in the 2001-2003 invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of them successfully settled (or indeed “won”) at the time of this book’s publication, in June 2010 – when Washington was also contemplating the possibility of a military intervention into Iran to destroy that country’s nuclear industry.

THE IRONY OF MANIFEST DESTINY contends that the United States’ geographical distance and cultural isolation from the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment and its consequences permanently influenced Americans’ view of the world, and of their own society. The radicalism of the French Revolution greatly disturbed Americans. The Napoleonic Wars, the revolutionary events of 1848, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and the Paris Commune were to Americans remote and threatening events.

Yet proclamation of a united German Empire in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors in 1871, and the establishment of the French Third Republic, created the twentieth-century European world and the two great “world” wars into which the United States eventually was swept.

America’s long national isolation, and the isolationist popular political attitudes accompanying it, spared the United States from Europe’s revolutionary conversion from the religious beliefs and expectations of the Western past to the “Modern Paganism” of the Enlightenment, whose progressive beliefs and aggressive secular utopianism subsequently dominated European thought. These were eventually implicated in the creation of the twentieth century’s totalitarian regimes and wars. The United States shared this experience only as it ended in Europe, when America could assume the role of the saviour nation from abroad, the leading world power, and global reformer.

From this, and from the disastrous mutual misconceptions of the supposed “clash of civilizations” with Islam, there emerged the new American ideology of universal democratization and global military domination, which now, Pfaff argues, is approaching its climax -- and its failure.

His books : THE BULLET'S SONG: Romantic Violence and Utopia, New York, Simon & Schuster 2004
on 2000/1/9 0:00:00 (21663 reads)

The publishers write: In this dazzling and unsettling narrative, William Pfaff – the prize-winning author of Barbarian Sentiments and veteran political columnist for The International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker – charts the rise, fall, and significance of utopian violence in the twentieth century through the lives of several revolutionary artists, writers, and intellectual soldiers, including T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), André Malraux (the world-famous French novelist and “Byron” of the 1930s), Ernst Jünger and Gabriele D’Annunzion, novelists, nationalists and war heroes; Arthur Koestler, Communist agent and propagandist, afterwards author of the immensely influential anticommunist novel Darkness at Noon), and others, including the Comintern propaganda genius Willi Münzenberg and the dissolute soldier and aristocrat become hermit, Charles de Foucauld, today candidate for beatification. The uprisings they led, the political styles they invented, the propaganda they created, and the intellectual and aesthetic influences they wielded changed a century in which an unprecedented barbarism killed millions. This book is of special importance because the last century’s commitment to the idea of redemptive violence has ominously re-appeared in the twenty-first century.

on 2000/1/8 0:00:00 (20214 reads)

FEAR, ANGER AND FAILURE: A Chronicle of the Bush’s Administration’s War against Terror from the Attacks of September 11, 2001 to Defeat in Baghdad. New York, Algora Publishing, 2004.

William Pfaff’s collected articles covering the War against Terror from its beginning to the administration’s acknowledgement at the end of 2003 that its initial policy had gone wrong, that its military power was incapable of imposing the solution the U.S. had originally sought, that America’s international influence had been diminished by the invasion and the resistance, and that it was Iraqi nationalism and religion that were going to decide the country’s future.

His books : BARBARIAN SENTIMENTS: America in the New Century, Hill and Wang, New York 2000.
on 2000/1/7 0:00:00 (21417 reads)

This second and revised edition of the 1989 American National Book Award finalist and 1990 Prix Jean-Jacques Rousseau laureate, Barbarian Sentiments, contains the full original text together with the author’s decade-after appraisal of what he wrote in each chapter, where he was right and where he was wrong. Includes a new Foreward, together with a 48-page “Afterword in the New Century.”

His books : BARBARIAN SENTIMENTS: How the American Century Ends, New York, Hill and Wang, 1989.
on 2000/1/6 0:00:00 (2826 reads)

[Also published in French by Calmann-Lévy, Paris, as LE RÉVEIL DU VIEUX MONDE; in German by Die Andere Bibliothek, Herausgegeben von Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, as DIE GEFÜHLE DER BARBAREN; and in Portuguese by Publicaçoes Europa-America as O DESPERTAR DO VELHO MUNDO]

“A work of moral passion and striking insight by America’s best foreign-affairs columnist.”
     -- Ronald Steel, biographer of Walter Lippmann.

“Occasionally in the world of current affairs, just very occasionally, there comes along a book with a clarity of intellect, a subtlety of language, and a confidence of tone which mark it out as a significant and essential addition to the bookshelf. Such a book is Pfaff’s Barbarian Sentiments.”
     -- Ian Davidson, The Financial Times.

Consult bookstores or on-line booksellers.

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