Alliance Curse: How America Lost the Third World

Alliance Curse: How America Lost the Third World

by Hilton L. Root
     
 

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In Alliance Curse, Hilton Root illustrates that recent U.S. foreign policy is too often misguided, resulting in misdirected foreign aid and alliances that stunt political and economic development among partner regimes, leaving America on the wrong side of change. Many alliances with third world dictators, ostensibly of mutual benefit, reduce incentives to

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Overview

In Alliance Curse, Hilton Root illustrates that recent U.S. foreign policy is too often misguided, resulting in misdirected foreign aid and alliances that stunt political and economic development among partner regimes, leaving America on the wrong side of change. Many alliances with third world dictators, ostensibly of mutual benefit, reduce incentives to govern for prosperity and produce instead political and social instability and economic failure. Yet again, in the war on terror and in the name of preserving global stability, America is backing authoritarian regimes that practice repression and plunder. It is as if the cold war never ended. While espousing freedom and democracy, the U.S. contradicts itself by aiding governments that do not share those values. In addition to undercutting its own stated goal of promoting freedom, America makes the developing world even more wary of its intentions. Yes, the democracy we preach arouses aspirations and attracts immigrants, but those same individuals become our sternest critics; having learned to admire American values, they end up deploring U.S. policies toward their own countries. Long-term U.S. security is jeopardized by a legacy of resentment and distrust. A lliance Curse proposes an analytical foundation for national security that challenges long-held assumptions about foreign affairs. It questions the wisdom of diplomacy that depends on questionable linkages or outdated suppositions. The end of the Soviet Union did not portend the demise of communism, for example. Democracy and socialism are not incompatible systems. Promoting democracy by linking it with free trade risks overemphasizing the latter goal at the expense of the former. The growing tendency to play China against India in an effort to retain American global supremacy will hamper relations with both—an intolerable situation in today's interdependent world. Root buttresses his analysis with case studies of American foreign policy toward developing countries (e.g., Vietnam), efforts at state building, and nations growing in importance, such as China. He concludes with a series of recommendations designed to close the gap between security and economic development.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

With friends like the dictators with which it regularly sides, the United States doesna't need enemies, argues this wide-ranging critique of American foreign policy. Root (Capital & Collusion) posits that, in the search for securing access to natural resources and investment opportunities in developing countries, American leaders find it cheaper and more expedient to prop up corrupt autocrats than deal with democracies. The consequences are dire, he contends: American aid lets dictatorships consolidate power while ignoring the needs of their people; when they inevitably fall, America often gets dragged into futile military interventions that leave it disgraced and unpopular. Root elaborates these themes in case studies of U.S. relations with South Vietnam, the Philippines, Iran, Iraq and other countries; his surveys proffer intriguing insights into the failings of Americaa's allies and the surprising successes of enemies like Communist China and Islamic Iran. Roota's discussions, citing everything from game theory to the marginal utility of supporting the Vietcong, can be dry and excessively technical, which is a shame, because his prescriptions for American foreign policy-less focus on military security, more on economic development and social reform-are well-grounded and compelling. (July)

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From the Publisher
"Roots prescriptions for American foreign policy—less focus on military security, more on economic development—are well-grounded and compelling." — Publishers Weekly

"His prescriptions for American foreign policy—less focus on military security, more on economic development—are well-grounded and compelling." — Publishers Weekly

"engaging and provocative...highly recommended." — CHOICE

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815701514
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
11/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
286
File size:
810 KB

Meet the Author

Hilton L. Root is a professor at George Mason University's School of Public Policy and a senior fellow with the Mercatus Center. He has served as adviser to the U.S. Treasury and the Asian Development Bank and has taught at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania. Root has a number of books to his credit, including Capital&Collusion: The Political Logic of Global Economic Development (Princeton, 2006), Governing for Prosperity, edited with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (Yale, 2000), and The Key to the Asian Miracle, with J. E. Campos (Brookings, 1996).

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