Edit of 30 Mar 08 to add links.
I struggled with this book. In the context of all the other books I have read, I was hoping for something a big more fullsome and balanced. This is an erudite state-centric report card on three President’s that only a Washington insider would write, and and that most who are not Washington insiders will find daunting.
It is an essay without references. It is also a partisan work, one that recognizes the American political, economic, and social frameworks are broken, but one that assumes the Democrats will have a second chance in the aftermath of the atrocities and high crimes and misdemanors characteristic of the Bush-Cheney regime. In my view, the only thing worse for America than imperial Republicans is inept Democrats. The party “machines” have got to go. (Cf. Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It; The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy); and Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders.
The book ends with a proposition for a joint legislative-executive global policy planning council, with a shared common staff. This is a variation of the strategic body General Tony Zinni discusses in his most recent book, The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America’s Power and Purpose.
I put the book down feeling empty–indeed–with some dispair. Is this all there is? No big ideas such as the restoration of the US Information Agency and the creation of an Open Source Agency as called for on page 413 of the 9-11 Commission. No mention of a miniscule tax on every Federal Reserve transactiion, allowing the elimination of all individual income taxes. No mention of the 5 billion at the bottom of the pyramid, of the ten high-level threats, twelve policies, and eight other major players. No mention at all of the military-industrial complex and the heavy metal military that Presidents from both parties have been all too willing to go along with. No mention of the two trillion a year illicit economy (in the context of a 7-9 trillion total global economy), see Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy.
No mention of the fact that it was this author who gave the Pakistani’s a bye on their nuclear plans, or the direct connection between Iranian funding of the Pakistani program, and their probable possession of a nuclear tipped Russian Sunburn missile (carrier killer, zig-zags at 2.2 Mach).
America needs a transpartisan government that ends the winner take all approach to leadership, and that starts with a balanced sustainable budget. The Comptroller General has declared the USA to be insolvent. It’s going to take a lot more than high-sounding platitudes to get America back on track. There are 27 secessionist movements, Vermont’s being the most powerful, for good reason: it is time to dissolve this government, and the two political “gangs” that share the spoils that are not theirs to give, in order to restore the Republic of, by, and for the people. The image I have loaded gives a sense of what I was hoping to see. Joe Nye comes closer with his Soft Power ideas. World War III is about two things: unleashing the innovative energy of the five billion in extreme poverty, and spreading the gospel of tolerance and diversity. Both demand $3 billion a year for a massive global free online educational network in all languages, accessible via low-cost cell phones.
If America gets a second chance, it will be from the bottom up. The existing political enterprise is worse than dead, it is a rotting carcass that needs to be burned. Brzezinski addresses the superficial outcomes of a grotesqley flawed and out-dated system (Kissinger did well on this in Does America Need a Foreign Policy? : Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century but then he’s also done it wrong, see The Trial of Henry Kissinger. America and the world are too complicated to be run by one white man and his cronies, all controlled by corporations that internalize profit and externalize social cost. If we do not focus on a revolution in the minds and hearts of all humanity, neither our diplomats nor our warriors will be able to stop the immolation of the planet.
The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
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