Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Second Chance (Book #61)

Second Chance (Zbigniew Brzezinski, 2007) is one of the best books on current events and recent history I've read. It's short and clear without being simplistic, and it's pragmatic rather than partisan and doctrinaire. (Not that I don't enjoy a good partisan preaching-to-the-choir sermon on occasion.)

Brzezinski analyzes the foreign policy performance of the three post-Cold War presidents more or less as follows: Bush I was a solid tactician who managed the many crises of 1989-92 ably but lacked the strategic vision to follow through and so wasted opportunities and planted the seeds for some of our current problems. Clinton was intelligent and visionary but erratic and unfocused, slow/reluctant to act in certain crises and overly optimistic about globalization, leading him also to neglect opportunities to stabilize the chaotic post-Cold War world. Bush II is a disaster, ruining American power and prestige through his simplistic good vs. evil worldview and reckless behavior WRT Iraq. Brzezinski thinks the next president will have a second chance, hence the title, to restore America as a respected lead actor on the world stage, but it will be a daunting task, particularly because of the insular nature of the American electorate.

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