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A Man for All Reasons

Author: Paul Elie

November 1, 2007

In this The Atlantic article, Paul Elie investigates how neocons and liberals, theocons and Christian pacifists, idealists and realists have all called upon the writings of the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the grand debate on the war on terror. Elie outlines these diverse uses and abuses of Niebuhr to show how the theologian, better than any contemporary thinker, got to the roots of the conflict between American ideals and their unintended consequences. Elie ends by pointing to Niebuhr's sense of history as the right foundation from which America can begin to recognize the limits on its power, a recognition with profound consequences for its engagement in international affairs - and particularly its involvement in Iraq.

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