BARBARIAN SENTIMENTS: How the American Century End by William Pfaff

BARBARIAN SENTIMENTS: How the American Century End

By

KIRKUS REVIEW

In the polemic tone of an op-ed piece, Pfaff (Condemned to Freedom, 1971) considers the world's major economic powers at the end of the 20th century. Pfaff argues that after the Single European Market is established in 1992, Western Europe will become the world's dominant economic power--as its nations have been, on and off, for the last 400 years. He attributes their success to their longstanding sense of national identity, "purpose," and an established ruling elite. Pfaff warns that the growing strength of Western Europe may increase tensions between the Soviet Union and the US as the two superpowers watch their influence in the Third World decline. Echoing the current western consensus that communism is on the decline worldwide, he argues that Gorbachev's new course for the Soviet Union has been forced by an internal crisis--a crisis caused by the lack of an honestly interpreted history and a false picture of where the country was headed. Pfaff also finds the US in a state of "intellectual confusion" caused by the nation's ignorance of history. Shaken by the Vietnam War and other failures to shape Third World nations in its own image, the US is returning to its "natural condition" of isolationism. Although Pfaff offers his argument as a corrective for prevailing American assumptions, he himself repeats the assumptions of both the liberals and right-wingers without redefining or examining them. Despite this, however, he does offer some timely insights.

ISBN: 8090-6665-3
Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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