Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might

Overview

For eight years, Nancy Soderberg served with distinction and creativity at the highest levels of American government. She is uniquely positioned to explain how the world works in this new era-and when it's in danger of breaking down.
—Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

Are there limits to American power? The neoconservative brain trust behind the Bush administration's foreign policy doesn't seem to recognize any. For the ...

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Overview

For eight years, Nancy Soderberg served with distinction and creativity at the highest levels of American government. She is uniquely positioned to explain how the world works in this new era-and when it's in danger of breaking down.
—Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

Are there limits to American power? The neoconservative brain trust behind the Bush administration's foreign policy doesn't seem to recognize any. For the first time, we have people in power who believe that as the world's reigning superpower, America can do what it wants, when it wants, without regard to allies, costs, or results. But as events in Iraq are proving, America may be powerful, but it is not all-powerful.

In practice, no country could ever be strong enough to solve problems like Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq through purely military means. In the future, America's power will constantly be called up to help failed and failing states, and it is becoming clear that the complex mess of Somalia has replaced the proxy war of Vietnam as the model for what future military conflicts will look like: a failed state, a power vacuum, armed factions, and enough chaos to panic an entire region. Using vivid examples from her years in the White House and at the United Nations, Nancy Soderberg demonstrates why military force is not always effective, why allies and consensus-building are crucial, and how the current administration's faulty world view has adversely affected policies toward Israel, Iraq, North Korea, Haiti, Africa, and Al-Qaeda. Powerful, provocative, and persuasive, this timely book demonstrates that the future of America's security depends on overcoming the superpower myth.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
Soderberg, a Clinton administration insider who held high-level positions on the National Security Council and at the UN, offers an appraisal of Clinton-and Bush-era foreign policy. She recounts the internal policy debates and decisions of the Clinton years, as the administration struggled to blend diplomacy and the use of force in a sequence of trouble spots and played peacemaker in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. Her basic thesis is that after initial missteps in Haiti and Somalia and bruising lessons learned in Bosnia, the Clinton team eventually found an effective combination of diplomacy and force that led to success in Kosovo and the emergence of the United States as the indispensable superpower. The deeper story is of Washington's struggle to define a grand strategy for the post-Cold War world. Soderberg thinks that the Clinton administration succeeded in articulating a strategic vision-not defined by a single principle but a blend of realism and liberal activism, a "nuanced policy of tough engagement." Underplaying the commonalities between the two administrations, she contrasts this with Bush's hegemonic approach, which, built on a radical overestimation of U.S. capabilities, has led to a failed adventure in Iraq and dangerous anti-Americanism around the world.
Kirkus Reviews
Unilateral big-stick carrying may seem well and good to the "hegemons" in the Bush administration, writes erstwhile Clinton advisor Soderberg, but it hasn't made the world safer or better. In the tradition of Clinton and other Democratic leaders (John Kerry comes to mind), the author argues that the way for the White House to win friends and influence people abroad is to build strong international alliances and share the burden of promoting peace and order with our partners. The Bush administration had the chance to extend the Clinton approach in addressing recent events, she continues, and did so to some extent in Afghanistan. But it chose to do otherwise after the fall of the Taliban. The present administration's insistence on going to war in Iraq "will prove to be a test of the myth of the hegemon's view of America's role as a superpower," writes Soderberg, who contends that going it alone in the modern world leads to isolation and the accumulation of enemies. The Superpower Myth has some interesting moments, as when the author recounts the 1993 attack on American soldiers in Somalia so ably depicted in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down (1999). Soderberg describes a livid Bill Clinton demanding to know what had gone wrong, letting a few heads roll as a result, then taking charge of his own foreign policy. Lessons learned: Don't allow Pentagon types to go unquestioned, and don't allow the United Nations to lead American troops into battle. The second lesson has become an article of rhetorical faith among politicos, but the first has been lost on the onetime cold warriors of Ford and Reagan vintage who now serve Bush II. The point is well taken, but Soderberg's arguments swim in a sea ofdreary detail; her narrative is less a book than an extended white paper, with all the requisite problem-describing, pundit-quoting, and policy-recommending. May set a think-tank denizen's pulse racing, but won't do much for general readers with a concern for America's role in the world. Agent: Andrew Stuart/The Stuart Agency
From the Publisher
* Nancy Soderberg, currently with the International Crisis Group, offers a more conventional take on U.S. grand strategy in The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might. She urges the United States to find the right balance between isolationism and global dominion, arguing that Americans must accept that U.S. leadership is essential to maintaining global order while also resisting the myth of U.S. omnipotence. Her policy recommendations — "tough engagement"; working "in concert with the international community, rather than clashing with it"; and using "force as a last, not first resort" — are sensible and put The Superpower Myth in line with other liberal and centrist critiques of the Bush administration.
One of the greatest strengths of Soderberg's book is her insider's account of many of the seminal events of the 1990s. From 1993-96, Soderberg was a high-ranking official on President Clinton's National Security Council (where I also worked from 1993 to early 1994). She then served as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations until 2001. These perches gave Soderberg a bird's-eye view of such critical issues as intervention in the Balkans and Haiti and U.S. efforts to combat al Qaeda and hunt down Osama bin Laden. Although she is sometimes a bit too easy on her former bosses, her narrative provides valuable material on the considerations and personalities that shaped policy. While her accounts do not offer stunning revelations, they do provide important new detail, illuminating, for example, the tortured debates over intervention in Bosnia and Clinton's effort to overcome the post-Vietnam aversion to limited war. (The Washington Post, April 3, 2005)

Unilateral big-stick carrying may seem well and good to the "hegemons" in the Bush administration, writes erstwhile Clinton advisor Soderberg, but it hasn't made the world safer or better.
In the tradition of Clinton and other Democratic leaders (John Kerry comes to mind), the author argues that the way for the White House to win friends and influence people abroad is to build strong international alliances and share the burden of promoting peace and order with our partners. The Bush administration had the chance to extend the Clinton approach in addressing recent events, she continues, and did so to some extent in Afghanistan. But it chose to do otherwise after the fall of the Taliban. The present administration's insistence on going to war in Iraq "will prove to be a test of the myth of the hegemon's view of America's role as a superpower," writes Soderberg, who contends that going it alone in the modern world leads to isolation and the accumulation of enemies. The Superpower Myth has some interesting moments, as when the author recounts the 1993 attack on American soldiers in Somalia so ably depicted in Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down (1999). Soderberg describes a livid Bill Clinton demanding to know what had gone wrong, letting a few heads roll as a result, then taking charge of his own foreign policy. Lessons learned: Don't allow Pentagon types to go unquestioned, and don't allow the United Nations to lead American troops into battle. The second lesson has become an article of rhetorical faith among politicos, but the first has been lost on the onetime cold warriors of Ford and Reagan vintage who now serve Bush II. The point is well taken, but Soderberg's arguments swim in a sea of dreary detail; her narrative is less a book than an extended white paper, with all the requisite problem-describing, pundit-quoting, and policy-recommending.
May set a think-tank denizen's pulse racing, but won't do much for general readers with a concern for America's role in the world. (Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2004)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471789642
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/21/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

NANCY SODERBERG has served on the National Security Council and as a U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Her commentary has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Salon, the Washington Monthly, the Los Angeles Times, the American Prospect, and the Financial Times. She has also appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Crossfire, The Charlie Rose Show, and numerous other television programs.
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Read an Excerpt

The Superpower Myth


By Nancy Soderberg

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-65683-6


Chapter One

Things Fall Apart

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned. -W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

It was March 13, 1993. The principals-the cabinet-level officials responsible for national security policy-gathered in the Situation Room on the ground floor of the West Wing. Having grown up with the movie Dr. Strangelove, I assumed the Situation Room would be a large hall covered with maps, high-tech gadgets, and phone lines connected not only to the Russians but to other key world leaders as well. In fact, the room is small and unassuming, large enough for a rectangular shiny wooden table that seats about ten people comfortably and another twenty chairs along the wood-paneled walls. The table has one chair taller than the rest, in theory reserved for the president but most often used by the chair of the meeting, usually the national security advisor. The Cabinet Room is the only other room with a taller chair reserved for the president-one of the few vestiges of British royal tradition.

This particular principals' meeting turned out to be one of the most memorable-and, at over four hours, one of the longest-of my time at the White House. Three of the many issues discussed, the Middle East, Haiti, and Bosnia, required decisions on difficult questions, especially whether and how to use ground troops. As the third-ranking official at the National Security Council, my job was to help manage the foreign policy agenda. First as staff director, then as deputy assistant to the president, I sat in on most of the National Security Council (NSC) meetings throughout Clinton's first term, and then regularly from my position at the United Nations for the second term.

That day, Clinton, who had been president less than two months, made his first decision to deploy troops-to the Golan Heights, should there be a peace agreement between Israel and Syria. The group discussed the continued threat of Saddam Hussein and briefly discussed but rejected the use of force to return Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide to power. For the first time, the group grappled with inserting U.S. ground troops into Bosnia, in this case following an agreement among the parties. In addition, the principals had their first discussion about the use of force to bring about compliance by President Slobodan Milosevic of the former Yugoslav Republic, with the demands of the international community. The meeting began the process that would eventually lead to the use of force to back up American diplomacy more than two years later. It would also begin to develop a new foreign policy for America as the lone superpower, one that deployed not only America's vast, unrivaled military power but also its economic, diplomatic, and even moral strength.

The discussion set up a personal and policy dynamic that was to last through each of the participant's tenure in the administration. National Security Advisor Anthony (Tony) Lake tried to keep the conversation moving toward a conclusion. His very subtle humor offered comic relief to those sophisticated enough to get his jokes. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin raised repeated questions about the advisability of drawing the military into messy situations. His bombastic manner and failure to always be fully up on his brief alienated his colleagues and many at the Pentagon. He would often, however, be the first to ask the tough questions. For instance, that day he asked the key question, "Is the United States prepared to go to war in the Balkans?"

Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell threw cold water on plans to involve the United States in the Balkans or any other "nonstrategic" situation, opposing the use of air power to achieve political aims and, at times, holding back key bits of information. The CIA Director James Woolsey offered "doom and gloom" scenarios that often failed to take into consideration key nuances. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright repeatedly pushed for more robust uses of force. Leon Fuerth, the vice president's national security advisor, would raise seemingly arcane points but, after navigating a very circuitous route, laid down important issues for consideration and pushed, with Albright, for the use of force to back up diplomacy. Deputy National Security Advisor Samuel (Sandy) Berger was always good for a bit of needed humor and for reminding his colleagues of the overall objectives of the president. While the principals did not realize it at the time, the discussion on whether to offer U.S. troops to support a Middle East peace agreement would prove to be the easiest discussion regarding that deployment.

If I were Israeli, I'd make damn certain there were Americans up there

Sitting to Lake's right, Secretary of State Warren (Chris) Christopher brought the group up to date on his negotiations in the Middle East. The United States had long played a leading role in trying to forge peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors. In 1979, then president Jimmy Carter had brought Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat together at Camp David. Yet, progress had eluded both presidents Reagan and Bush.

Christopher saw new opportunities for peace on two tracks: between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Syria. Reserved, courteous, disciplined, and a little stiff, Christopher always dressed in a suit and tie. Passed over for secretary of state by Carter, Christopher had kept the post in his crosshairs for twelve years. I barely knew him as he had played virtually no role in foreign policy during Clinton's campaign. To my surprise, during the transition Clinton asked him to be secretary of state.

Building on his predecessor's policy, Christopher had been working to get an interim agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis that would give the Palestinians some form of increased self-rule and would mandate an incremental withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories. It now looked as though progress were possible. On the peace process with Syria, the Israelis were showing new flexibility and appeared willing to consider returning the Golan Heights, taken in the 1967 war. That meant the possibility of peace between Israel and Syria.

Christopher explained that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin was prepared to take "significant steps" before April 28 that might help induce the other Arabs to come around. The Israelis were looking at Palestinian elections to "choose someone there and give some legitimacy," as well as land "usage and management, but not sovereignty during the interim stages." As negotiations went forward, there could be some improvement in human rights conditions. Christopher also said Rabin had put dual citizenship on the table. While the proposal needed to be further developed, Christopher described it as "very encouraging."

Those in the room nodded in agreement. "The two main tracks are mutually reinforcing," said Lake, referring to the Syrian and Palestinian tracks. He then asked about the politically sensitive issue of the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which in 1993 remained on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. "I don't envision dealing with the PLO," replied Christopher. "They know what they have to do. The Brits and the Belgians have started negotiations with the PLO.... I wouldn't close the door forever. If we could find a way to deal with them, it would be simpler. But we can't do so until it is OK with the Israelis." Little did he know that in six months-to the day-PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat would walk into the White House.

On the Syrian track, Christopher was continuing discussions regarding peace between Israel and Syria in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Christopher explained cautiously that he thought there was a chance to get Syrian president Bashir al-Assad to agree to peace with Israel "in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan." Christopher laid out the U.S. approach, "full withdrawal for full peace." He was seeking an umbrella agreement that would set out these guidelines, followed by sequential steps to achieve the peace. But there was a catch, noted Christopher. "Assad understands the apex of full withdrawal for full peace. Therefore, it is necessary to tell him we're prepared to guarantee security through the UN-where the United States will play a major role for providing security on the Golan Heights. The sine qua non is a U.S. general in charge." That meant thousands of U.S. troops on the Israeli-Syrian border. Christopher wanted the authority to make Assad just such an offer.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore had joined the group to discuss the deployment of U.S. troops in the Golan. Listening carefully to Christopher's explanation, both Clinton and Gore agreed that Christopher should make the offer to Assad. Clinton was concerned about the congressional reaction, knowing how little support existed for the deployment of U.S. troops abroad. "If I tell him [Assad] I'll enforce security on the Golan Heights," Clinton asked the group, "do I need to have talked to Congress?" The principals decided they did not have to inform Congress further, as the Hill had already been briefed on letters of assurance on border security "according to U.S. Constitutional practices." While perhaps a stretch, no one wanted to risk a leak on an issue of this magnitude. A nasty debate in Congress over the deployment of troops to the Golan could have scuttled the deal.

Describing Rabin as a "flinty, taciturn man," Christopher said that Rabin really wanted "answers, especially regarding security arrangements on the Golan." Clinton also understood the troops had to be "real combat troops, not blue helmets," referring to UN peacekeepers. "If I were Israeli, I'd make damn certain there were Americans up there."

Offering to put U.S. troops on the Golan to guarantee security on the border between Israel and Syria was the first decision Clinton made to deploy troops abroad. It was the simplest decision he would face regarding U.S. troops-and also one that would not be implemented, as Assad ultimately never made the deal. There was no disagreement on the benefits to the United States of an Syrian-Israeli peace, long considered a strategic U.S. goal. No one winced when Powell later came back with an estimate of a U.S. battalion in the Golan for twelve years at the cost of "a couple of million" a year. The president's response to Powell's estimate was, "I think it is worth it."

The use of American troops to help implement peace in the Middle East was far less controversial than whether to deploy troops in the nonstrategic areas in conflict in 1993. These tougher decisions, ones that, unlike Syria, would ultimately be implemented, involved the use of force to back up American diplomacy in what New York Times columnist Leslie Gelb termed "teacup wars," those areas deemed during the cold war as not worthy of U.S. involvement, such as Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia. Yet, as a superpower now free from the burden of containing the Soviet Union, the United States was increasingly called upon to do something to stem these conflicts. Clinton understood the need for U.S. leadership in such crises and during the campaign had challenged President George H. W. Bush to restore democracy to Haiti and end the war in the Balkans. He now struggled to find a way to do so as the new president.

Not your father's Democrat

In developing his foreign policy positions, Clinton had to redefine not only America's role in the post-cold war era but also Democratic foreign policy after nearly a quarter century of Republican presidents. The only hiatus had been Jimmy Carter's four-year presidency that, in foreign policy, was largely remembered for the success of the Camp David peace accords, but also for a perceived weakness because the Soviets had in 1979 invaded Afghanistan on his watch and because of his unsuccessful efforts to free the American hostages in Iran. The Democratic Party was perceived as weak on defense and unwilling to use force. On the other hand, Nixon's recognition of China, Reagan's increase in defense spending, tough Central American anticommunist policies, and invasion of Grenada created an image of toughness, and President George H. W. Bush's 1989 invasion of Panama and 1991 ouster of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, together with the recent collapse of the Soviet Union, had all helped to shape the image of a successful Republican foreign policy. In fact, Republicans seemed invincible.

During the campaign, Clinton trailed President Bush 15 percent to 63 percent in perceived ability to conduct foreign policy. Clinton sought to neutralize that deficit by taking many centrist positions, not only because he believed them appropriate but also because he hoped to win back the so-called Reagan Democrats who had abandoned the Democratic Party for more than a decade. Clinton called for "the world's strongest defense, ready and willing to use force, when necessary." Recognizing the concern of conservatives that the United States not overextend its forces, he advocated the selective use of U.S. influence, saying that "America's challenge in this era is not to bear every burden, but to tip the balance." Although he did propose modest cuts in defense spending to "plow those savings back into jobs right here at home," Clinton endorsed force modernization and increased support for soldiers and their families. He supported many of Bush's positions such as aid to the former Soviet Union, engagement in the Middle East peace process, and arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Clinton aggressively and successfully challenged the Republican foreign policy on a range of issues, especially its failure to adapt to the new international relations wrought by the end of the cold war. He likened the Republican claim of having won the cold war to the "rooster taking credit for the dawn." He pressed for "an America that will never coddle tyrants, from Baghdad to Beijing, an America that champions the cause of freedom and democracy, from Eastern Europe to Southern Africa, and in our own hemisphere in Haiti and Cuba." On Haiti, he had pledged to reverse Bush's policy of returning Haitian refugees and to work for the restoration of the deposed President Aristide. On Bosnia, he had challenged his predecessor's unwillingness to use America's economic and military strength to pressure the Serbs to end their aggression against the Muslim population. Both positions would take years to implement-and although we did not yet realize it-U.S. ground troops. First, the new team had to find its footing.

The team

Clinton's foreign policy team drew largely from the ranks of Carter's team-the only Democratic president since 1968. Thus, the newly appointed officials had been out of power, and in many cases out of Washington, for twelve years. They were not attuned to the rigors of the new twenty-four-hour news cycle or the harsh partisan politics that pervaded the Congress. The team had the right instincts but faced a steep learning curve in the new ways of Washington. Most importantly, they faced the daunting task of charting a new American foreign policy in the post-cold war era.

The ultimate reserved Protestant New Englander, Tony Lake brought to the campaign an intense intellectual rigor and a centrist approach to the use of force, which was appreciated by Clinton. Slight of build, with wispy graying brown hair, and large academic glasses, Lake was a well-liked and respected professor of international affairs at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. A self-described neo-Wilsonian, Lake believed that the United States should use its moral, military, economic, and political strength to engage and promote a more just, stable world. As a young Foreign Service officer, Lake had requested to go to Vietnam. He rose quickly through the ranks and served as head of Policy Planning at the State Department under Carter. Lake had been given the plum task of serving as Henry Kissinger's special assistant in the early 1970s but had resigned over the Cambodian invasion and other issues. Kissinger subsequently tapped his phone. Lake's slightly stern way put off some people, yet his intellect and loyalty to his staff and colleagues earned him respect and support.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Superpower Myth by Nancy Soderberg Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Bill Clinton.

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

1. Things Fall Apart.

2. Crossing the Rubicon.

3. Go as Peacemakers.

4. Force and Diplomacy.

5. A realistic Foreign Policy?

6. A New Breed of Terrorists.

7. The Myth of Invincibility.

8. Failure to Be on a War Footing.

9. Iraq: A Decade of Deceit.

10. The Hegemons' Failed Peace.

11. Are We Really Going to War?

12. The African Intervention Gap.

13. Winning the War on Terrorism.

14. Lessons for the President.

Notes.

Index.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2005

    'Myth' America

    'Myth' America In the Mideast, things are looking up--and Nancy Soderberg is feeling down. Until recently, Nancy Soderberg was just another blissfully forgotten face of the Clinton administration, a onetime No. 3 at the National Security Council now biding her days at a think tank. But she gained some notoriety this month during an appearance on 'The Daily Show,' in which host Jon Stewart was half-marveling, half-despairing at the turn of events in the Middle East after the Iraq elections, which seemed to vindicate President Bush. Stewart: 'He is going to be great. . . . Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.' Soderberg: 'Well, there's still Iran and North Korea don't forget . . .' Stewart [crossing fingers]: 'Iran and North Korea, that's true. . . . But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region [the Middle East].' Soderberg: 'Well wait. It hasn't actually gotten very far. . . . There's always hope that this might not work.' In fairness to Ms. Soderberg, elsewhere in the interview she allows that 'as an American, you hope good things would happen.' Indeed, no fair-minded reader can slog through 'The Superpower Myth'--her sustained lament that Mr. Bush's 'hegemonic' attitudes have undone the brilliant work of his predecessor--and come away with any doubts as to the author's patriotism. As to her capacity to make informed judgments, well, that's another matter. Begin with the simplest errors of fact. The aggregate value of global trade was not $4 billion when President Clinton took office; it was $4 trillion, according to the OECD. The Palestinians have not had 'several' prime ministers since 2003; they've had two. Richard Perle has never been a member of the Bush administration. The Iraqi National Museum was not significantly looted in April 2003; Britain's leftist Guardian newspaper put paid to that legend in 2003. Israelis did not support the dovish Geneva Accords by 53.3%; the actual figure was 31%, while a plurality of 38% opposed them. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 not 1989. Trivia, really, but when Ms. Soderberg snickers about how candidate Bush struggled through a foreign-policy pop quiz in 2000, one is compelled to snicker back. Next are larger, but equally basic, errors of analysis. 'It is now believed that [Abu Musab] Zarqawi operates independently, and even in competition with bin Laden.' She must have missed Zarqawi's declaration of fealty to Osama bin Laden in October. (Bin Laden certainly noticed it: He recently ordered Zarqawi to widen the scope of his efforts beyond Iraq.) 'While [Ahmed] Chalabi was popular in certain powerful circles in Washington, he had virtually no support in Iraq.' Funny, then, that Mr. Chalabi did well enough in January's elections to be in serious contention for the premiership. 'The war in Iraq drew the Bush administration's focus away from Afghanistan during the critical two years following the overthrow of the Taliban, making the job there infinitely harder.' Infinitely? Ten million Afghan voters missed that nuance. And then there is the Soderberg Whopper: 'The hegemons' experiment has failed in Iraq,' she writes. 'Whether other benefits of the war cited by the administration will materialize, such as promoting democracy and reform in the Middle East and a resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, will take years to evaluate. Early signs indicate the war set back rather than promoted these goals.' Early signs being . . . Palestinian elections? Iraqi elections? The Cedar Revolution? The 'Kifaya' ('Enough') movement in Egypt? The end of the intifada? As the lady says, you can always hope that 'this might not work.' So what does work? We are offered the example of the Clinton administration, whose great virtue, Ms. Soderberg argues, is that it used force in the service of diplomacy, not the other way around. In July 1995, for instance, Mr. Clinton summoned Ms. Soderberg to complain that he

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2005

    A must read for responsible citizens!

    This book is a must read for responsible Americans trying to figure out what is going on today. It is an excellent resource, written in very approachable language, about the foreign policy questions facing the U.S. and how the U.S. needs to address these issues in its new role as the only military, economic, political, and naval, superpower in the world. The position the U.S. occupies at the moment is unprecedented in world history, and the failure appropriately to address and approach issues can easily lead to a difficult and isolated role for America if we are not careful. The book raises serious questions about how the U.S. is approaching its use of power -- soft and hard -- during the Bush Administration. But, Ms. Soderberg does not condemn the present Administration as much as note ways we could have moved forward and have not. For the partisan reader, the book illustrates the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration saying that the U.S. should not engage in nation building and then turning around and doing so in the most unprepared manner conceivable. There are serious problems facing the U.S. and the world -- Israel, Palestine, North Korea, global warming, terrorism, etc. -- and there is no way that nightly news, daily papers, or talking heads can really give an interested citizen the background needed to consider the scope of these issues. Ms. Soderberg does and for that this book should be read and the reader should be grateful.

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