This is Robert Kagan, historian and foreign policy scholar. Broadly speaking an ideological conservative, Kagan is nonetheless the kind of guy that politicians from across the spectrum like to be seen reading. He's a true heavyweight, a notch up the scale from the Niall Fergusons of the world, and a very good writer, whose subtle arguments are crafted from sonorous, stately sentences.
His latest essay, published in The New Republic, is vintage stuff, and is much talked-about in Washington. Entitled 'The Myth of America's Decline,' it argues, persuasively, that the conventional wisdom about America's decline as a superpower is based not just on an underestimation of its present power and future potential but on an over-estimation of its historic omnipotence. America has always struggled to assert itself, militarily and economically, over an unruly world; there was no golden age of stability, or of universal respect for American values.
Josh Rogin reports that the president himself is a fan of Kagan - despite the fact that Kagan advised McCain and now advises Romney. In fact, Kagan's TNR essay influenced Obama's State of the Union address:
"The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe," Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. "Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about".
Just hours earlier on Tuesday, in an off-the-record meeting with leading news anchors, includingABC's George Stephanopoulos and NBC's Brian Williams, Obama drove home that argument using an article written in The New Republic by Kagan entitled "The Myth of American Decline." Obama liked Kagan's article so much that he spent more than 10 minutes talking about it in the meeting, going over its arguments paragraph by paragraph, National Security Council spokesmanTommy Vietor confirmed to The Cable. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will also discuss Kagan's essay and Obama's love of it Thursday night with Charlie Rose on PBS.
Kagan's essay is really worth the time.
Via Ezra Klein, from whom I nicked my headline.