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Incredible inside view of American foreign policy
This book is an essential read for anyone interested in American foreign policy, or the inner workings of the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State. David Rothkopf starts with the history of the NSC during the Truman Administration, and shows its various changes throughout succeeding Presidential administrations. How an Iran-Contra could occur, or the battles bewteen Henry Kissinger and the State Department, are just two of the compelling stories presented.<BR/> A dedicated staff, which seems to increase during each Presidential term, is discussed in detail by Rothkopf. Some of this reporting is from his first hand knowledge. Yet, with all of his background and education, he elucidates the mission and operation of this known, but virtually undiscussed, Presidential asset. Scholars are quoted as saying this book is also beneficial to them. I cannot comment on that point; I can only say that for a book with so much history, policy, and politics, it was difficult to put this book down. If I had a regret with this book, it is not taking it with me for a good weekend retreat where I could read it straight through instead of a little at a time.<BR/> The history I have knowingly lived from Presidents Eisnhower on became even more compelling as I realized some of the background, and inside, work that was done by the NSC on events that I remember. How the Bay of Pigs could occur; why President Johnson became even more involved with the quagmire of Vietnam; Kissinger's extra-Presidential decision to take the country to Defcon 3 in October, 1973; Carter's efforts with Iranian nationalist; the death of Marines in Lebanon; and, so many other events are presented against a balanced background which allows the reader access and insight to help determine a true response to these historical events.<BR/> One drawback on the book, however, is the poor editing. There are misspelled words, incomplete sentences, or repeated words side by side. Perhaps the editors were so engrossed they were unable to do their jobs.<BR/> Political science students, Presidential studies, history buffs, and others, would greatly appreciate this work. I suspect that at some point, I will read it again.
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Posted November 1, 2007
Useful, if over-enthusiastic, study of the USA's ruling class
David J. Rothkopf was a junior member of the Clinton administration. In this fascinating book, he studies the post-1947 record of the American foreign policy élite, the National Security Council and its staff, about 200 people. This exclusive establishment, which he actually calls an `aristocracy¿, is the part of the US ruling class that runs national policy across Republican and Democrat administrations. He contrasts 1947 with post-2001, finding `a stunningly different set of conclusions about what to do with American power and prestige¿. He supports the multilateralism of NATO, the Marshall Plan, the IMF, the World Bank and the UN, under the slogan of globalisation, and argues against Bush¿s unilateralism, which puts the USA `above and beyond the influence of global institutions or the rule of law¿. He agrees with Carter¿s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, that terrorism is a tactic not an enemy. He notes `the debacle in Iraq¿, yet misunderstands the region completely when he writes, ¿it is the decay of Middle Eastern civilisation that is the threat to us.¿ Not the US state¿s unpopular alliances with the Saudi and Israeli states then! He describes the USA¿s whole political system as suffering ¿an irresponsible separation between the will of the majority of America and the will of the representatives of the American people.¿ But if the people¿s supposed representatives do not represent them, how can this be a democracy? Finally, Rothkopf warns, ¿The real strategic threats come from those who would offer an alternative to our leadership.¿ These ¿will argue that our system has exacerbated rather than resolved basic problems of inequity in the world.¿ With some justice, since, as he admits, ¿the majority of the world¿s population are today effectively disenfranchised from reaping the benefit of the world we have been leading.¿ If this US leadership, exercised through the institutions which he so admires, has not benefited the majority of the world¿s people, what good is it?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2009
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