The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

80 MARCH 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Practitioners of diplomacy, development, and defense will find We the Young Fighters interesting for the missteps and mistakes highlighted and the optimism reflected in the “framework for reform” for fragile states. The framework redefines the terms “youth” and “gender”— the former often focusing on males and the latter on females—to better reflect their interconnectedness and to ensure girls are part of programs and policies. A bigger draw for some will be learning how artists and characters they adore could inspire war crimes. Sommers does a fantastic job explaining how youth saw these icons—especially Bob Marley—as messengers who justified savagery and massive drug use. Sommers does not blame the creators for how people interpreted their work, but I wonder how the influencers still living, such as First Blood author David Morrell and actors Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, would feel about their work fueling massacres. Sommers says pop culture can validate indignation and provide a rationale for manipulation. This is not unique to Sierra Leone, as recent populist movements across the globe attest. Readers outside Africa may find inspiration from the book to aid domestic efforts to fight alienation, promote democracy, and ensure more equitable societies. We the Young Fighters is more than history. Events in 2023 show the war’s lasting impact in Sierra Leone. The African Union assessed progress on reintegrating children affected by the war, and violence flared when the current president, who helped overthrow the government in 1992, won reelection. High levels of poverty and unemployment in some sub-Saharan African countries—and the America’s Unsteady Emergence on the Global Stage The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900-1941 Robert Kagan, Knopf, 2023, $35.00/ hardcover, e-book available, 688 pages. Reviewed by Joseph L. Novak Robert Kagan’s The Ghost at the Feast illuminates the contours of U.S. foreign policy in the early 20th century. It is the second volume of a projected historical trilogy, which began with Dangerous Nation: America’s Foreign Policy from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century (2007). The arc of this narrative encompasses the Spanish-American War, World War I, and America’s subAdditionally, Kagan maintains strong links with the State Department. In the 1980s, he served as Secretary of State George P. Shultz’s principal speechwriter and as a member of the Policy Planning Staff. In 2019, he co-wrote an article in The Washington Post with Antony Blinken, the future Secretary of State, promoting “active diplomacy and military deterrence.” He is married to Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a retired Senior Foreign Service officer and ambassador. In his most recent book, Kagan lucidly charts the course of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and its aftermath. While granting Cuba its independence in 1902, number of recent coups—show local and international actors must learn from Sierra Leone or the tragedy may repeat. The mix of history, continuing ramifications of the war, and the framework for use in future unstable states makes We the Young Fighters an appealing read for scholars, diplomats, history buffs, and pop culture enthusiasts. Robin Holzhauer is the senior editor at “Diplomatic Diary” and consults on communications, entrepreneurship, and foreign affairs issues. She previously served as a U.S. Foreign Service officer, worked as a journalist, and founded a not-for-profit public relations firm. During her 23 years in the Foreign Service, assignments included Russia, Kosovo, Venezuela, Lebanon, Gabon, Washington, D.C., Rhode Island (at the Navy War College), and Connecticut (at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy). sequent retreat into isolationism in the 1920s and 1930s. As a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist for The Washington Post, Kagan is a veteran commentator on geopolitics. Sometimes referred to as a neoconservative, he is particularly well known for his past advocacy of U.S. intervention in Iraq. More recently, he has persuasively argued that America and its allies must support Ukraine and counter the challenge to the rules-based multilateral order posed by Russia and China. His other books include The Jungle Grows Back (2018) and The World America Made (2012).