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America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy
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Product Description

The status of the United States as a world power, and the nature of power itself, are at a historic turning point. It is essential that we understand and adapt to the new security environment in which we find ourselves.

Two of the most respected figures in American foreign policy are Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft¡ªboth former National Security Advisors under markedly different administrations. In America and the World they dissect, in spontaneous and unscripted conversations moderated by David Ignatius, the most significant foreign policy challenges facing the U.S.: the Middle East, Russia, China, Europe, the Developing World, the changing nature of power in a globalized world, and what Brzezinski has called the ¡°global political awakening.¡± While one author is a Republican and the other a Democrat, they broadly agree on the need to adapt to a new international environment. Where they disagree, their exchanges are always both deeply informed and provocative.

America and the World will define the center of responsible opinion on American foreign policy at a time when the nation¡¯s decisions could determine how long it remains a superpower.

Customer Reviews:

  • Consider the Context
    This book provides a wonderful view into world affairs. Both Brzezinski and Scowcroft have served as National Security Advisors and are probably the two best respected authorities on International Affairs. David Ignatius, editor for the Washington Post, is the moderator for the book.

    The book is set up as a series of interviews between Zrzezinski and Scowcroft moderated by Ignatius. You even get little headers to tell you who is speaking when with each chapter devoted to some of the most pressing world affair problems out there.

    I found the book quite easy to read and filled with some very level headed thinking on world affairs.

    Some cautions though: I felt that both Zbig and Scowcroft were careful and very diplomatic in towing their party lines to an extent, held back and didn't really come out with some of the problems facing America. They kept their thinking global and pro-world vs pro-America and in some areas like climate change they played into the hype vs really looking at the costs and what it means to do these kinds of big things. Although in their defense these guys are great poker players, global strategists, and diplomats so they have to look at all sides and be welcoming to all in some respects. They play in a strange arena having to be pro-world while at their core they have to be pro-america (I hope). Its like hearing CIA spies talking never knowing if this guy is a spy, a double agent, or a triple agent. Whose side are these guys on? and I dearly hope they're on our side.


    Overall, I found the book worthwhile to read as it gives you insight into what these guys are thinking but at the same time as you read the book you can't help but feel the slight tug of an undertow current that lies just below the calm surface; an undertow current that you are not told about but which you are left to decypher on your own. I don't know if the two writers and Ignatius don't mention this on purpose, if its irrelevant, or if they just don't know. Don't get me wrong, I'm not conspiratorial its more like things are left unsaid.

    So overall, the book is great but it certainly does not cover domestic affairs, only international affairs and these only within the narrow scope of the author's experience and expertise. This is good in the sense that they keep to their strenghts and don't write about stuff that they don't know about but don't expect a book about everything or expect to be entirely enlightened after reading this book. So this book is not about America and then also about how America relates to the world -- this book is purely about how America relates to the world. You should come out with a baseline context for world affairs and the world we're coming from and moving into.

    Its almost as if this book needs to be part of a 3 book series: with a second book being about domestic affairs and then a capstone book that puts it all together. As it stands, this book gives you only the world affairs portion of the picture.

    Good luck....more info
  • Holds your attention
    This book drew me in with it's insightful, easy to understand dialogue. It gave me the opportunity to view the world in a whole new way. Dr. Brzezinski and General Scowcroft offered me a new perspective and I felt included in the global community for the first time. I can recommend this book to anyone hoping to better grasp our role in foreign policy, past and future....more info
  • Obaba and McCain must read this book!
    I checked this book out from the Library over this last weekend. The conversation is between Bret Scowcroft and Zibignew Brzenski on how they viewed and presently view foreign policy. Bret served under a Republican administration and Zbig under a Democrat.
    What's delightful is that these conversation gave the other a chance to disagree or dispute opinions. There was very little of that. I feel that the dialog between these two Foreign Security advisors was throughly open and honest.
    In reading this book I gained a fuller understanding of American foreign policy in the past, it's successes and failures. Historically this is a very important book. Much of what is said at this 'conversation' was never reported nor analyzed at the time events took place.
    Their conversations about past and future policies in China, Russia and the Middle East give clarity to both tenses.
    The disappointing part of this book is that no attention is paid to Latin America and little to Africa. (Egypt is mentioned but only in the case of Israel.)...more info
  • Frank Assessment
    Despite the fact that this two gentleman reside on different sides of the political divide they put forth a honest, frank and sober assessment of American foreign policy in the post Cold War era, warts and all, with none of the rancor that has so come to dominate 'political discourse' in American societal organisation recently. Moreover, the moderator is to be commended for letting the principals discuss and engage in debate and not become as some many 'talking heads'unfortunately do, inject themselves in to the dialogue and in a clear majority of cases distract from the quality of the subsequent debate. One could only hope that both candidates campaigning for the office of president read this text, so as to not repeat the recent missteps as this is something no US administration nor its polity can affords to endure again. ...more info
  • Ignatius
    This book presents an interesting dialogue between Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski as moderated by David Ignatius. The book is written in such a way that you feel like you are a fly on the wall while they discuss the vexing foreign policy issues of the day. They cover a wide range of topics, from Palestine and Hamas, Iraq (leading with the title a "crisis in of our own making"), Russia, and China. As you read through the book, you get the sense that you are being given a sneak peak inside the minds of two men of both incredible intellect and diplomatic astuteness. ...more info
  • Foreign Policy Realists?
    Bitter, partisan rancor has characterized most discussion of foreign policy in America in recent years. This is a long tradition that has waxed and waned in intensity, depending on the perceived success or lack thereof of the country's involvement in international affairs, since the founding of the Republic. When this rancor runs high, it encourages our enemies, confuses our friends, and makes difficult the formulation and execution of any coherent U.S. foreign policy.

    But there is another tradition as well, involving agreement on broad principles - the Monroe Doctrine, the containment policy of the Cold War - as well as restraint in name-calling and judging motivations - dissent is not termed un-American and intelligence mistakes are not called lies - combined with a vigorous bipartisanship that actively seeks consensus.

    When this tradition is ascendant, as it was, for example, in the 1940s, American foreign policy tends to be more successful than when it is not, for example, in the Vietnam era and since 2003.

    This book, as defined in its introduction, is "an experiment to see if a prominent Democrat and a prominent Republican - speaking only for themselves and not for or against either party - could find common ground for a new start in foreign policy." The experiment succeeded, and it produced what its dust jacket blurb correctly calls "a deeply informed and provocative book that defines the center of responsible opinion on American foreign policy."

    The book consists of a series of discussions during the spring of 2008 between Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, and Brent Scowcroft, who held the same position under Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, moderated by David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist and former Executive Editor of the International Herald Tribune.

    Brzezinski and Scowcroft might be considered foreign policy realists, in that they tend to begin with consideration of the national interest. But they both resist categorization as realists or idealists, agreeing that U.S. policy must strike a balance between the extremes of either school, combining power with principle, acknowledging limitations, and recognizing that everything can't be done at once.

    They agree that the next president should stress bipartisanship in his foreign policy.

    Here are some other important points of agreement:

    A Cold War mindset that obscures new global realities, including the reduced role of the nation state, persists among U.S. policymakers.
    The United States has become "too frightened in this age of terrorism, too hunkered down behind physical and intellectual walls."

    While the "global center of gravity" is shifting toward Asia, a strong Atlantic community is vital for the United States as well as Europe, and the West will remain pre-eminent for some time.

    Chances are good that China can be peacefully assimilated into the international system, and there is no need for the United States to choose between China and Japan as its principal "anchor point" in Asia.

    A vigorous U.S. effort to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem should be a high priority for the next president.

    In spite of its limitations and current problems, the United States remains the country most able to "exercise enlightened leadership" for the global community.

    There are also some significant points of disagreement:

    While both publicly opposed the invasion of Iraq before it was launched, Scowcroft believes it has "created new conditions" requiring that we stabilize the situation before leaving. As he put it, "I think simply withdrawing is an impediment to a solution. And Zbig thinks it helps."

    Both believe that Russia is trying to re-assert pre-eminence in the territory of the former USSR, especially Georgia and Ukraine; both are skeptical of the utility of putting missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic; but Brzezinski favors the option of NATO membership for Ukraine while Scowcroft opposes it.

    Scowcroft is more concerned than Brzezinski about a nuclear Iran, fearing that "we stand on the cusp of a great flowering of proliferation if Iran is not contained in its attempt to develop a capability for nuclear weapons;" but neither seems to have a good prescription for thwarting this development other that continuing the thus-far-futile effort to mobilize greater international pressure.

    These wise men agree that U.S. policy has not adapted well to a world that is changing in fundamental ways. They want to "restore a confident, forward-looking America," and they are optimistic about the country's future - but only if it "can rise to the challenge of dealing with the world as it now is, not as we wish it to be."
    ...more info
  • Students of History
    Reading this book allows you to become a student of current global history with two of the foremost experienced foreign policy minds as your tutors.

    The text format is one of an interview. David Ignatius, as the moderator, does not ask the flowery, over complementary questions. He is direct, inquisitive, asking the right questions for insight to today's global dilemma.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft provide answers and insight that are compelling, understandable and current. These two great minds do not always agree on the same answers to questions placed by Ignatius. You will not receive a one sided answer or opinion as in other books, journals or blogs. These two minds, one Democrat and the other Republican, do agree that a new approach, a reform, is needed for global interaction. Reading the interviews provides their insight to the reforms needed by the United States to survive in a world that has grown smaller right before our half open eyes.

    You must have an interest greater than casual curiosity to enjoy this book. The book is not one for beginners of global political policies, though not in depth to the point of making you nod off from boredom. The names, places and situations discussed are all familiar to us. They are being discussed on MSNBC, BBC, CNN and Fox as you read this. These three men take the global situation and place it in some semblance of order for a better understanding for the student of current global history.
    ...more info