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

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    These are the guys everyone should be listening to!

    Imagine: Two masters of foreign policy - two men who have seen its inner workings through some of the most strenuous and trying times in our recent history and have massaged and influenced the outcomes of those events - sitting down at a table with a top columnist and world-class journalist for the Washington Post. There, they all speak their minds and their thoughts are captured and recorded for all who are interested to read. This book captures some of the most important opinions and insights about some of the most important topics facing America and the world today.<BR/><BR/>Zbignew Brzezinski served under President Carter, and Brent Scowcroft did likewise under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford as National Security Advisors. Their combined experience is impressive, to say the least. One (Brzezinski) served under a Democrat, the other under two Republicans. Their insights, however, are neither partisan nor overstated. Both men present their views with a common ideal, and with a common concern: America. Both of these men understand like few ever will that foreign policy amounts to doing what is in the national interest, for the national good, and with the support of the national opinion. Both have had to do so at times when the last of those qualities was hard-won.<BR/><BR/>This book covers a lot of important ground. From the current conflicts in the Middle East (Israel and the Palestinians as well as Iraq and Afghanistan) to China and Russia, this is a candid look at the opinions and experience of two foreign policy professors who earned their stripes in the real-world arena of policy implementation. Far beyond the standard snippets you read in the newspapers, these two delve deeply into some of the most pressing issues facing us as a nation. They conclude with their own views on Human Dignity and what it means to truly build and show respect for others.<BR/><BR/>I don't like reviews that include too many spoilers, so I do not intend to write one here. I can say, however, that as a political junkie and as someone who has seen both of these men speak in person, I can say that this book felt like an all access pass with permission to sit at that same table with them and pick their brains. These are questions most Americans unfortunately don't even know to ask, and they are the very questions to which we most need solid answers.<BR/><BR/>At risk of sounding cliche, this is an important book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    Must read

    Few books deserve the 'must read' designation, this one does.
    It is so refreshing to read a book that actually provides true non-partisan expertise and dialogue on international affairs and Americas past and future roles.

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  • Posted December 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Recommended reading for stability operations

    America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy
    Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft. David Ignatius, moderator.
    Basic Books, New York, 2008


    In "America and The World" David Ignatius moderates a discussion between Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft on the state of the State. Ignatius covers old and new ground in a way that is refreshingly antithetical to the current culture of news as sound bite. A veteran Washington Post columnist and political insider, Ignatius leads Brzezinski and Scowcroft from the early cold war years through China's effect on U.S. foreign policy, nuclear deterrence and power generation and an interesting section on cultural dignity. A final comment on the corrosive nature of partisanship is offered as quite damaging to the conduct of statecraft, at home and abroad.

    Current operations

    Although not specifically focused on U.S. involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan, the compass needle swings towards the lodestone of current operations throughout the book. Nowhere is this expressed more concisely than by Brzezinski in the following excerpt:

    'We have a kind of cultural misunderstanding of the terrain, (in the Middle East and Afghanistan). Our involvement is a kind of radicalizing foreign intervention, which then produces unwelcome consequences (Brzezinski, Scrocroft and Ingatius 102)'.


    Released in the middle of U.S. involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the relevancy of the content and timing of this frank exchange on U.S. foreign policy is best expressed in a section entitled 'The First Hundred Days'. In response to Ignatius' query on how the incoming President should approach the Administration's first one hundred days, Scowcroft's answer is couched in recent events and aimed squarely at the Administration, civil servants and the Pentagon:

    'I think what we've learned in Iraq is that you can't pick up a country, create a democracy, turn around and leave (Brzezinski, Scrocroft and Ingatius 101)'.

    America and The World should be part of mid to senior-level readings. As individual and institutional memory of the cold war fades, NCO's, officers and other stability practitioners are operating within a system borne of, and architecturally structured for, that past era. As such, the need for those junior and mid-career practitioners to understand their institution's organizational culture is greater than ever. Ignatius' efforts to draw out lessons from two former National Security advisors provides a timely and concise first-person account of those events from key decision makers who lived through that time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    Correct your Bios

    You printed Bzrezinski's bio twice and left off Scowcroft's. Obviously the key to the interest in this book is the collaboration between two security advisers on the opposite side of the fence.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 18, 2008

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    Posted January 8, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

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