“Beinart has given Democrats a blueprint for … taking back the White House.”
“Peter Beinart takes us on a vigorous and entertaining search for a usable past … His reasoning must be heard.”
“This is a brilliant and provocative book in a great tradition.”
“A thoughtful, provocative, well-written book.”
“An intellectual archeologist, Beinart excavates that vanished intellectual tradition and sends it into battle in his new book.”
“Beinart, in his deftly argued new book, . . . helpfully grounds the current debate in its oft-forgotten history.”
One of the most discussed essays of 2004 was Peter Beinart's "A Fighting Faith: An Argument for a New Liberalism." In the piece, the New Republic editor-at-large made an urgent case for the return to forgotten liberal principles: That America's goodness cannot be simply asserted; it must be earned. That to be good, America does not have to pure. And that liberalism cannot define itself merely against the right but must fervently oppose totalitarianism. The Good Fight expands and updates those arguments in ways that will inspire -- or incite -- readers. A fresh take on the age of terror.
Happily, Peter Beinart reminds us that the values and methods Truman deployed were not just a momentary response to the crisis of Communism, but an enduring legacy that can guide us now in a world far more complicated than the one Truman faced — and every bit as dangerous.
The New York Times
Beinart rightly notes a core irony: President Bush stripped away the restraints on the exercise of America's freedom to act because he wanted to demonstrate America's strength; he has thereby made American power illegitimate in the eyes of much of the world, which has made us weak. A true fighting liberalism would not have fallen into that trap. The Good Fight may not provide all the answers on how to fashion a durable foreign policy vision for the very real dangers we face, but it provides us with a fine place to start.
The Washington Post
This stimulating manifesto calls for a liberalism that battles Islamist totalitarianism as forthrightly as Cold War liberals opposed Communist totalitarianism. Former New Republic editor Beinart assails both an anti-imperialist left that rejects the exercise of U.S. power and the Bush administration's assumption of America's moral infallibility. America shouldn't shrink from fighting terrorism, despite civilian casualties and moral compromises, he contends, but its antitotalitarian agenda must be restrained by world opinion, international institutions and liberal self-doubt, while bolstered by economic development aid abroad and economic equality at home. Beinart offers an incisive historical account of the conflicts straining postwar liberalism and of the contradictions, hubris and incompetence of Bush's actions. He's sketchier on what a liberal war on terror entails-perhaps a cross between Clinton's Balkan humanitarian interventions and the Afghanistan operation, with U.S. forces descending on Muslim backwaters to destroy jihadists and build nations. The tragic conundrum of a fighting liberalism that avoids enmeshment in a Vietnam or Iraq (the author now repudiates his early support of the Iraq war) is never adequately addressed. Still, Beinart's provocative analysis could stir much-needed debate on the direction of liberal foreign policy. (May 30) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The Greeks had a word for it: hubris. Coming from the alpha and the omega of the ideological spectrum, U.S. journalist Beinart (columnist, the New Republic) and British author Murray (Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas) each claims that he knows the one true political faith, which just happens to be his own. Beinart recounts postwar liberalism's wanderings-how Americans for Democratic Action begat Students for a Democratic Society, which begat the Democratic Leadership Council, etc.-though conservatives use a different hymnal for this history. He faults liberals for positions that have weakened America abroad and for inattention to defining the nation's international role. He would resurrect the Marshall Plan to fight terrorism, though the record of foreign aid in kleptocracies makes this an unlikely solution. Like Beinart, Murray supported the Iraq War and its goal to proclaim liberty throughout the land, but given the arguments he presents, why not also invade the rest of the world's illiberal regimes? He defends Iraq by bashing Noam Chomsky and other pastors without congregations. America's purgatory began in the 1960s, says Murray (b. 1979), and there's just too much taxation, welfare, government, and crime. What's "neo" about saying that? Who knows, for his first page confesses that "neoconservatism does not have a manifesto." In short, while salvation is promised here, we are not delivered. Murray's book is not recommended, while Beinart's is an optional purchase for larger libraries.-Michael O. Eshleman, Kings Mills, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
New Republic editor-at-large Beinart delivers a cri de guerre that seems tailor-made for-well, maybe Hillary Clinton, if not the DNC. American liberals have erred in thinking that because American power is vulnerable to being used immorally, American power should not be used at all. Beinart wistfully admits to having supported the invasion of Iraq, hoping that it might "produce a decent, pluralistic Iraqi regime," but allows that he was mistaken. Still, he adds, the classic liberalism of the Cold War period posed what Arthur Schlesinger called "the vital center" between the poles of communism and fascism, and it made no bones about being activist and interventionist and using force where needed. It also placed great faith in international development, in the belief that relieving the world of poverty and want was a positive instrument for building peace and making friends, a very far cry from Bush and company's avowed lack of interest in nation-building. Just so, Beinart writes, John F. Kennedy-who was only sort of a liberal, at least at first-proclaimed that the core of America's Middle East policy ought to be "not the export of arms or the show of armed might but the export of ideas, of techniques, and the rebirth of our traditional sympathy for and understanding of the desires of men to be free." Civil rights at home and anti-totalitarianism abroad: The formula barely survived Kennedy, for the New Left of the 1960s dismantled Cold War liberalism and disconnected its ideals from "the struggle for freedom around the world," a mantra the right cynically took over. Modern liberals, the author adds, have tended not to have much to say about national security. But, he insists, they can take the high ground-and even the White House-by mastering the topic. So, Beinart concludes: civil rights at home and anti-jihadism abroad. We'll see how the idea plays out in the 2006 debates, but his prescription will surely find takers.