How to deal with this fractious world is Kaplan’s great question. Some years ago, he has written, after a conference where “intellectuals held forth about the moral responsibility of the United States in the Balkans,” he took a cab back to the airport and was asked by the cabbie, “If there’s no oil there, what’s in it for us?” This was, Kaplan says, “a question none of the intellectuals had answered.” And shame on them, because “thousands of words and a shelf of books in recent years about our moral interest in the region do not add up to one sentence of national interest. . . . It is only from bottom-line summaries that clear-cut policy emerges, not from academic deconstruction.” Kaplan once believed that something called “amoral self-interest” should be the defining aspect of American foreign policy.