A review by Michael Busch of Hog Pilots in the Brookyln Rail:
Numerous critics have taken Kaplan to task for his poor readings of history and literature. These accusations are well founded. Kaplan borrows liberally from a grab bag of literature, history, and political science references to frame his discussions of global events. But while this certainly makes for colorful writing, it also leads to lousy analysis. Kaplan has read widely, but unfortunately, not deeply.
This shortcoming is nowhere more evident than in Kaplan’s abuse of political science. He proudly admits to being a political “realist”, yet even a cursory glance at realist thought demonstrates that he’s nothing of the sort. Where realists see an international system dominated by self-interested, sovereign nation-states, Kaplan sees a world where the power of non-state actors has largely supplanted a crumbling Westphalian system. When hard-core realists argued persuasively that the invasion of Iraq was a fool’s errand destined to undermine the United States’ national interest, Kaplan dutifully banged his war drum, praising George W. Bush’s foresight and resolve.
But Kaplan’s most egregious abuse of realist theory revolves around his preoccupation with “anarchy.” Traditional realists take pains to emphasize the term’s Greek etymology in order to describe a rational international order lacking a government of governments. In Kaplan’s mind, however, anarchy connotes a disorderly international scene where the irrational forces of man’s inner depravity are given full expression. With such a grim outlook on the state of world affairs, Kaplan’s faith in the American military’s ability to provide global stability is unsurprising. There’s only one problem: Kaplan suspects that Americans may not be up to the challenge.