Road Hogs, Review of Joshua Muravchik's The Imperative of American Leadership (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 1996); Eric A. Nordlinger's Isolationism Reconfigured: American Foreign Policy for a New Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); and Peter W. Rodman's America Adrift: A Strategic Assessment (Washington, DC: Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom, 1996).
"If you don't know where you're going," said the Cheshire Cat to Alice, "almost any road will take you there." Undoubtedly, U.S. foreign policy is "on the road" after the Cold War, but there is, at best, imperfect agreement on which road it is or where it leads. Those sure of the way are suddenly encountering a lot of people named Alice, and the rest of us are checking our nametags.
A main purpose of The National Interest is to describe the map on which all such roads as we might traverse are laid out. Two of the books reviewed here describe how Joshua Muravchik and the late Eric Nordlinger read the map and would have us travel upon it. Both recommend sharp turns at high speeds. The third contains the counsel of Peter Rodman, a man less interested in deciphering maps than in plotting out fuel efficiencies and honing the fine points of safe highway travel.