In The World America Made, Robert Kagan argues that the global influence of the United States of America has, on balance, been a force for good, and that America should continue to police and, where necessary, intervene directly in world politics to uphold the values of freedom and democracy.
Kagan is clearly aware that his view is controversial, particularly in view of American military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. He makes his case by using an analogy between America's influence in the world and that of George Bailey, the protagonist of Frank Capra's film It's a Wonderful Life, in his community of Bedford Falls. Without America, he argues, the world would have been much less prosperous, peaceful, free and democratic. Like George Bailey, however, America is largely unaware of its own virtue, hence the need for analogy and hypothesis is explaining its true influence
Kagan's view is likely to find more favor with conservatives than with liberals, but he is not an American exceptionalist or even a traditional imperialist. He praises the Carter administration for its focus on human rights, and claims that he is principally concerned with spreading the ideals and principles which have worked well in America throughout the world. He points out that in 1941, when America entered the Second World War, there were only twelve democratically governed nations in the world, compared with over a hundred today. Kagan asserts that this is not an accident or a matter of inevitable progress but has much to do with the influence of America and its allies.