The Great Delusion

Liberal Dreams and International Realities
Narrated by: Noah Michael Levine
Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (118 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A major theoretical statement by a distinguished political scholar explains why a policy of liberal hegemony is doomed to fail 

In this major statement, the renowned international-relations scholar John Mearsheimer argues that liberal hegemony, the foreign policy pursued by the United States since the Cold War ended, is doomed to fail. It makes far more sense, he maintains, for Washington to adopt a more restrained foreign policy based on a sound understanding of how nationalism and realism constrain great powers abroad. 

It is widely believed in the West that the United States should spread liberal democracy across the world, foster an open international economy, and build institutions. This policy of remaking the world in America’s image is supposed to protect human rights, promote peace, and make the world safe for democracy. But this is not what has happened. Instead, the United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home. Mearsheimer tells us why this has happened.

©2018 John J. Mearsheimer (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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Dense, fact filled, sober analysis and prescription

Mearsheimer brilliantly probes the subtle and nuanced dimensions of modern foreign policy, at high level commensurate with his decades of scholarship, accessible to any curious reader.

In contrast to the 500 word essays common in typical popular opeds, Mearsheimer does not try paint US foreign policies in pallet consisting of just black and white, or red and blue. His deep analysis, exposes raw the purist ideologies (which I lean towards) of libertarian isolation, neoconservative intervention, or panglossian liberalism as flawed.

Though subtle, his well documented analysis is ultimately optimistic, in that his realist prescriptions based on recognizing the inherent nationalism of all peoples as a force greater than liberal democracy or authoritarian communist philosophies. He argue realism will lead to less foreign intervention, less wars, and less suffering.

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Great listen - but pretty dense

I loved this book but at times it was hard to consume by listening as I had to rewind many times to understand the ideas. But my real criticism is for the performer who should have learned to properly say things like realpolitik before he was allowed to read this book.

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Unusually sound reasoning on foreign policy

In my view the USA has had foreign policy intervention s since the end of the Cold War that harned both the national interest and the peoples of the countries targeted for intervention and attack. It is refreshing to read a realistic international relations scholar explain just how erroneous is the US liberal hegemony ambition and how much we are, at great expense, harming our own interests.

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  • Steven Brown
  • 02-05-19

A great expose of the liberal delusion

A no-holds analysis of global reality. If you want to understand the world we live in, rather than the world liberal elites want you to believe you live in, this is a must read.

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  • Andrey Boytsov
  • 04-15-20

Very good overall though repetitive

The authors explains clearly what liberalism is and is not, both as internal doctrine and as external policy. I definitely learned a lot and saw some things in new way. I wish the book was much less repetitive

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  • Adrian J. Smith
  • 12-11-19

Solid and convincing argument

The basic premise of Mearsheimer's book is that Liberal Hegemony, the dominant foreign policy strain of the US since 1991 is not only ineffective, but harmful for both the supposedly liberated people and the US public.
Mearsheimer's argument is essentially two pronged, that Liberal Hegemony is social engineering writ large and that Liberalism is always overwhelmed by realism and nationalism.
Mearsheimer's book resonates with this reader as I cannot help but recall my undergraduate professor of political theory proclaiming that Nationalism is the most powerful of all ideologies. This book simply vindicates such a view, as Mearsheimer's provides ample illustration how nationalism trumps liberalism every time.
Mearsheimer, while providing a decent theoretical explanation, concludes the book with an appeal for the US to return to a more restrained realism based foreign policy and to jettison Liberal Hegemony altogether. Mearsheimer contends that this will be necessary if the rise of China ensures a more multi polar world, but a slowing down of China could essentially result in the US being disincentivized from jettisoning Liberal Hegemony. The main obstacle to this is the foreign policy establishment, who successfully modified any restraint Obama intended to introduce into US Foreign Policy, and so far, seem to have persuaded Trump to adapt to some aspects of Liberal Hegemony, despite his stated opposition to it.
Mearsheimer's argument is solid, well supported and has convinced me at least, and is an outstanding piece of international relations literature.