Überpower by Joseph Joffe
Josef Joffe occupies a rare perch among Europe’s public intellectuals. As the publisher and editor of Die Zeit, Germany’s mass-circulation, highbrow weekly newspaper, he is a fixture of the country’s Left-tilting cultural establishment. Yet this Jewish son of Berlin—educated at Swarthmore, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard—is a defender of Israel and the United States, as well as one of the keener dissectors of the European conceits and anti-American pathologies so common to his peers. Those virtues go some way toward redeeming Überpower, an occasionally brilliant if ultimately unpersuasive attempt to sketch America’s “grand strategy” for the 21st century.
The point of that strategy, Joffe understands, is not how the U.S. should manage its “inevitable decline,” a theme frequently sounded in books of this genre. The point is how to stay on top. Joffe approaches this question as a foreign-policy “realist,” a thinker more in the mold of balance-of-power calculators like Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft than of democratic idealists like Woodrow Wilson or George W. Bush. As a result, he devotes much of Überpower to tallying up the “objective” political, economic, military, and cultural strengths of the U.S. vis-à-vis its current and prospective competitors.
About the Author
Bret Stephens is a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and the author of the paper’s “Global View,” a weekly column.