Great analysis, questionable solutions
Revisado en los Estados Unidos 🇺🇸 el 31 de enero de 2012
I'm a Morning Joe regular, and I've long admired Dr. Brzezinski. However, this prolonged memo (it's really too short to be called a "book".) makes a case for considering multiple points of view. The other reviews (when I bought the book there were none, now there are five) struck me as articulate, but leaning towards sycophancy. There's a lot to like, but it's not beyond criticism.
For example,he explains the present belief of America's decline by saying: "Six critical dimensions stand out as America's major, and increasingly threatening, liabilities:". Thefirst is an unsustainable national debt, the second our "flawed financial system", third, "widening income inequality coupled with stagnating social mobility", fourth is decaying national infrastructure, fifth is "a public that is highly ignorant about the world", while sixth is "America's increasingly gridlocked and highly partisan political system."
You've got to agree with this analysis (even though I think the analysis in WINNER TAKE ALL POLITICS by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson presents the same problems with root causes much more effectively). Brzezinski makes all these points quite cogently without belaboring the analysis. The dialogue is fast, crisp and, best of all, decidedly un-wonkish. Anyone can understand the difficult concepts.
Unfortunately, instead of providing solutions to what many economists, political scientists and social comentators have labelled "insoluble", he says that "the foreseeable future is still largely America's to shape. the United States has the capacity to correct its evident shortcomings--if it takes full advantage of its considerable strengths in the following six key areas: overall economic strength, innovative potential, demographic dynamics, reactive mobilization, geographic base, and democratic appeal."
He goes on to expand upon these six strengths, apparently unaware that he has anthropomorphized the country itself (see statement above--"if IT takes full advantage of ITS considerable strengths," etc. This is not a solution, it's a wish list. He is correct in everything he says, but it becomes perfectly clear that he is better spoken yet only linguistically superior to the politicians he advises. HE HAS NO REAL ANSWERS. HE IS SHORT ON SOLUTIONS.
This IS slightly unfair. To any specific global problem, it becomes clear he has a specific, defensible recommendation. As you read through that section of the book concerning the problem areas of the globe, you begin to wish he had been a Republican at the side of George W. Bush, whose foreign policy must have originated in some video game designer's studio. Still, he describes virtually every situation calling for sensitive limited engagement. He is without meaningful threat; his style seems to abandon confrontation. It's like he's looking for the KUMBAYAH MOMENT internationally.
Similarly disappointing, is the lack of allowance for major incidence. It's long forgotten that a great deal of the groundwork for the present relationship between the US, (then) Nationalist China, and (then DBA)"Mainland China", was the shelling of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu by the communists. This CHANGED the whole equation, underscoring the value the (then)communists placed upon eventual unification. That provocation went a long way towards establishing the US "one China" policy that Dr. Brzezinski describes eloquently in what comes off as almost a tribute to Deng Xiou Peng. What happens to this carefully crafted strategy towards rolling accomodation if there is a major war between India and Pakistan?
Weaknesses and all, though,you can stack this against any number of similar books and you still come up with a "BUY" recommendation. His analysis is brilliant. His research is spot on. His editing reeks of a fine, well-used blue pencil, and his understanding of differing global values is encyclopedic. In the final analysis, you have to appreciate this book for what it includes in a small, pithy volume, not for what he was sagacious enough to leave out.
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