The Great Delusion

Liberal Dreams and International Realities

John J. Mearsheimer

View Inside Price: $30.00

September 25, 2018
328 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300234190

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.

John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His many books include Conventional Deterrence. He lives in Chicago, IL.

"Idealists as well as realists need to read this systematic tour de force. Even if you don't agree, it will discipline your own thinking."—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Return of Marco Polo's World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-First Century

"This is the best of the many books that seek to explain how and why American foreign policy has gone so disastrously wrong.  Mearsheimer hits the sweet spot where theory meets the chaos of today's world."—Stephen Kinzer, author of The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

"John Mearsheimer’s The Great Delusion is policy-relevant scholarship at its best: a summation of a leading scholar’s accumulated thinking about international relations theory and American foreign policy."—Christopher Layne, University Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, Texas A&M University

"Liberal states have many virtues, but The Great Delusion explains, with rigorous logic and admirable clarity, why their efforts to spread their values are usually doomed to fail. Both liberal crusaders and unrepentant realists have much to learn from this compelling book.”—Stephen Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

“[An] accessible treatise . . . a disquieting critique.”—Publishers Weekly

“A dagger pointed at the heart of America’s governing philosophy.”—Robert W. Merry, The American Conservative

“A closely-reasoned case for the virtues of restraint.”—David Warsh, Economic Principals newsletter

“A . . . radical critique of the liberal foreign policy paradigm as a whole.”—Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

“Mearsheimer believes that it is folly for a nation-state to try and remake and socially engineer a different nation-state in its own image. . . . [He} opts for clarity over ornate prose: he defines his terms, constructs tight arguments, anticipates and responds to counterarguments.”—Daniel Kishi, American Conservative

“A thought-provoking and bleak worldview.”—Gideon Rachmann, Financial Times (A Financial Times Best Book of 2018)

"Even dissenters of Mearsheimer's approach to an explanation of world politics and American foreign policy will find this book worthy of their attention and consideration as a comprehensive theoretical statement deserving of praise."—S. R. Silverburg, Choice