Robert Kagan is one of the best foreign-policy analysts and writers in America. Years ago, he was an aide to George Shultz in the State Department. Today, he is a scholar at the Brookings Institution. His father is Donald Kagan, the classicist. I ask Bob, “Do you know Greek and Latin and all that?” He says, “Are you going to quiz me?” I tell him I’m unequipped to give such a quiz.
We have done a Q&A, here.
Bob Kagan’s new book is The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World. The thesis of the book is given in the mere four words of that remarkable title. Kagan writes, “The liberal world order is like a garden, ever under siege from the forces of history, the jungle whose vines and weeds constantly threaten to overwhelm it.”
In our podcast, we talk about the 20th century, the international system, NATO, America, China, Russia, populism, nationalism, liberalism, conservatism, and so on. One of our subjects — not a major one but a subject nonetheless — is Nicaragua. More than 20 years ago, Kagan wrote an excellent book called “A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977–1990.” Amazingly, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas rule on, killing people.
I have learned a lot from Bob Kagan over the years. I learned from him in our Q&A. An outstanding thinker, researcher, and teacher, someone who knows bitter lessons about the world that people in general have forgotten or never knew. The world always has to relearn. Always has, always will. “The problem is, people keep being born,” someone once said.