Review: American Foreign Policy in a New Era (Hardcover)

2 Star, Diplomacy

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

2.0 out of 5 stars Narrowly Focused on Critique of Bush and Iraq,

April 30, 2006
Robert Jervis
This would have been a three-star review, but as the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction about global issues, I have decided to begin penalizing publishers for low-rent publications that are poorly presented on Amazon–for this book there is no description, no table of contents, no cover (low rent, no jacket hence no cover art, and small print to boot), and so on. This is essentially a 138 page essay with a lot of notes thrown over the transom.

The greatest deficiency, for one who was waiting breathlessly for this great man’s appreciation of “American Foreign Policy in a New Era,” is that the book turned out to be poorly titled and narrowly focused. This book is essentially a very thoughtful discussion of why the Bush Administration has acted very unwisely in attacking Iraq and failing to pick up on the terrorism warnings from the Clinton Administration.

Unfortunately, the book fails completely to address the *other* nine threats to global stability, within which terrorism falls ninth, just above organized crime. The other global threats that we must address, as identified by LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft and other members of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change (A more secure world: Our shared responsibility, United Nations, 2004). They focused, in this order of priority, on: Poverty; Infectious Disease; Environmental Degradation; Inter-State Conflict; Civil War; Genocide; Other Large-Scale Atrocities; Nuclear; radiological; chemical; biological weapons; and (after Terrorism); Transnational organized crime.

Sadly, I was expecting a learned discussion of each of these threats, potential inter-agency and coalition approaches to each of these threats, and a proposed plan of attack such as J. F. Rischard provides in High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them

I do not regret buying the book–anything by grand master Robert Jervis is important and worth reading–but he missed a larger opportunity here. Joe Nye’s books Understanding International Conflicts (6th Edition) (Longman Classics in Political Science) and The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone (you can skip the more plebian Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics) are better. I also recommend the monograph, available at the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute web site, “Preventive War and Its Alternatives: The Lessons of History,” by Dan Reiter, and the recent monograph by Collin Gray, “Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy: Can the American Way of War Adapt?” Both are free, concise, and brilliant.

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