THE IRONY OF AMERICAN HISTORY

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The Irony Of American History

Author : Reinhold Niebuhr
ISBN : 9780226583990
Genre : Religion
File Size : 57.89 MB
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“[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away . . . the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard.”—President Barack Obama Forged during the tumultuous but triumphant postwar years when America came of age as a world power, The Irony of American History is more relevant now than ever before. Cited by politicians as diverse as Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Niebuhr’s masterpiece on the incongruity between personal ideals and political reality is both an indictment of American moral complacency and a warning against the arrogance of virtue. Impassioned, eloquent, and deeply perceptive, Niebuhr’s wisdom will cause readers to rethink their assumptions about right and wrong, war and peace. “The supreme American theologian of the twentieth century.”—Arthur Schlesinger Jr., New York Times “Niebuhr is important for the left today precisely because he warned about America’s tendency—including the left’s tendency—to do bad things in the name of idealism. His thought offers a much better understanding of where the Bush administration went wrong in Iraq.”—Kevin Mattson, The Good Society “Irony provides the master key to understanding the myths and delusions that underpin American statecraft. . . . The most important book ever written on US foreign policy.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, from the Introduction
Category: Religion

The Theological Vision Of Reinhold Niebuhr S The Irony Of American History

Author : Scott R. Erwin
ISBN : 9780199678372
Genre : History
File Size : 34.94 MB
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This book argues that an appreciation of Reinhold Niebuhr's theological vision is necessary for understanding the full measure of his 1951 work, The Irony of American History. The work is important because Niebuhr remains at the center of a national conversation about America's role in the world, and commentators with divergent political and religious positions frequently look to Irony for guidance. Niebuhr described his theological vision asbeing "in the battle and above it," and, in more extensive terms, explained it to be a "combination of moral resoluteness about the immediate issues with a religious awareness of another dimension of meaning and judgment." This book claims that this vision led Niebuhr, in Irony, to assert that America must both take "morally hazardous action" in combating the aggression of the Soviet Union and engage in critical self-evaluation to prevent the country from assuming the most odious traits of its Cold War foe. The excavation of Irony's theological foundations is necessary since, rather than explicitly advancing his vision in the work, Niebuhr chose to communicate it implicitly--through thehistorical figure of Abraham Lincoln for instance. Moreover, this book argues that the study of both Niebuhr's theological vision and his application of this vision throughout his life is instructive as the contemporarygeneration engages with global problems.
Category: History

Reinhold Niebuhr Major Works On Religion And Politics

Author : Reinhold Niebuhr
ISBN : 9781598534054
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 58.90 MB
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A definitive collection of the theologian and public intellectual who was the conscience of the American Century. “One of my favorite philosophers,” remarked Barack Obama about the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971) in 2007. President Obama is but one of the many American political leaders—including Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King Jr.—to be influenced by Niebuhr’s writings. Throughout the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, Niebuhr was one of the most prominent public voices of his time, probing with singular style the question of how to act morally in a fallen world. This Library of America volume, prepared by Niebuhr’s daughter, Elisabeth Sifton, collects four indispensable books: Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic (1929), Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (1944), and The Irony of American History (1952), along with a selection of essays, sermons, lectures, prayers, including his world-famous Serenity Prayer, and writings on current events—Prohibition, the Allied bombing of Germany, apartheid in South Africa, the Vietnam War—many of which are collected here for the first time.
Category: Political Science

The Children Of Light And The Children Of Darkness

Author : Reinhold Niebuhr
ISBN : 9780226584010
Genre : History
File Size : 38.45 MB
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The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, first published in 1944, is considered one of the most profound and relevant works by the influential theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and certainly the fullest statement of his political philosophy. Written and first read during the prolonged, tragic world war between totalitarian and democratic forces, Niebuhr’s book took up the timely question of how democracy as a political system could best be defended. Most proponents of democracy, Niebuhr claimed, were “children of light,” who had optimistic but naïve ideas about how society could be rid of evil and governed by enlightened reason. They needed, he believed, to absorb some of the wisdom and strength of the “children of darkness,” whose ruthless cynicism and corrupt, anti-democratic politics should otherwise be repudiated. He argued for a prudent, liberal understanding of human society that took the measure of every group’s self-interest and was chastened by a realistic understanding of the limits of power. It is in the foreword to this book that he wrote, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” This edition includes a new introduction by the theologian and Niebuhr scholar Gary Dorrien in which he elucidates the work’s significance and places it firmly into the arc of Niebuhr’s career.
Category: History

The Irony Of Manifest Destiny

Author : William Pfaff
ISBN : 0802719678
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 69.78 MB
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"For years there has been little or no critical reexamination of how and why the ultimately successful postwar American policy of 'patient but firm and vigilant containment of Soviet expansionist tendencies...and pressure against the free institutions of the western world' (as George Kennan formulated it at the time) has over six decades turned into a vast project for ending tyranny in the world. We defend this position by making the claim that the United States possesses an exceptional status among nations that confers upon it special international responsibilities, and exceptional privileges in meeting those responsibilities. This is where the problem lies. It has become somewhat of a national heresy to suggest the U.S. does not have a unique moral status and role to play in the history of nations and therefore in the affairs of the contemporary world. In fact it does not." Cogently, thoughtfully, powerfully, William Pfaff--whose columns and commentary over the past 40-odd years have given him the widest international influence of any American commentator--lays out the historical roots behind the American exceptionalism that has animated our politics and foreign relations for decades, and makes clear why it is flawed and bound to fail. Those roots lie in the secularization of western society brought about by the Enlightenment. "My proposition in this book is that the United States' spearation from 1800 to 1941 from the common history of the west has disqualified it from the mandate it has assumed as the society that embodies the future"...and in many ways is responsible for the impasse in which it finds itself at the end of the disastrous events of the last 8 years. "It has failed to learn from experience because it lacks the indispensable experience Europeans have acquired of modern ideological folly and national tragedy."
Category: Political Science

The Irony Of Barack Obama

Author : R. Ward Holder
ISBN : 9781317026983
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 37.63 MB
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Drawing on the political theology of Reinhold Niebuhr, described by Barack Obama as 'one of my favourite philosophers', this book assesses the challenges facing the President during his first term. It evaluates his success in adhering to Niebuhr's path of 'Christian realism' when faced with the pragmatic demands of domestic and foreign affairs. In 2008 Candidate Obama used the ideas of 'Hope' and 'Change' to inspire voters and secure the presidency. Obama promised change not only regarding America's policies, but even more fundamentally in the nation's political culture. Holder and Josephson describe the foundations of President Obama's Christian faith and the extent to which it has shaped his approach to politics. Their book explores Obama's journey of faith in the context of a broadly Augustinian understanding of faith and politics, examines the tensions between Christian realism and pragmatic progressivism, explains why a Christian realist interpretation is essential to understanding Obama's presidency, and applies this model of understanding to considerations of foreign and domestic policy. By combining this theological and political analysis the book offers a special opportunity to reflect on the relationship between Christian faith and statesmanship, reflections that are missing from current popular discussions of the Obama presidency. Through consideration of Niebuhr's models of the prophet and the statesman, and the more popular alternative of the political evangelist, Holder and Josephson are better able to explain the president's successes and his failures, and to unveil the Augustinian limits of the political life.
Category: Political Science

American Defense Policy

Author : Paul J. Bolt
ISBN : 0801880939
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 76.65 MB
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American Defense Policy has been a mainstay for instructors of courses in political science, international relations, military affairs, and American national security for over 25 years. The updated and thoroughly revised eighth edition considers questions of continuity and change in America's defense policy in the face of a global climate beset by geopolitical tensions, rapid technological change, and terrorist violence. On September 11, 2001, the seemingly impervious United States was handed a very sharp reality check. In this new atmosphere of fear and vulnerability, policy makers were forced to make national security their highest priority, implementing laws and military spending initiatives to combat the threat of international terrorism. In this volume, experts examine the many factors that shape today's security landscape -- America's values, the preparation of future defense leaders, the efforts to apply what we have learned from Afghanistan and Iraq to the transformation of America's military, reflection on America's nuclear weapons programs and missile defense, the threat of terrorism, and the challenges of homeland security -- which are applied to widely varied approaches to national defense strategy. This invaluable and prudent text remains a classic introduction to the vital security issues facing the United States throughout its history and breaks new ground as a thoughtful and comprehensive starting point in understanding American defense policy and its role in the world today.
Category: Political Science