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

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The status of the United States as a world power, and the nature of power itself, are at a historic turning point. It is essential that we understand and adapt to the new security environment in which we find ourselves.Two of the most respected figures in American foreign policy are Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft—both former National Security Advisors under marked The status of the United States as a world power, and the nature of power itself, are at a historic turning point. It is essential that we understand and adapt to the new security environment in which we find ourselves.Two of the most respected figures in American foreign policy are Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft—both former National Security Advisors under markedly different administrations. In America and the World they dissect, in spontaneous and unscripted conversations moderated by David Ignatius, the most significant foreign policy challenges facing the U.S.: the Middle East, Russia, China, Europe, the Developing World, the changing nature of power in a globalized world, and what Brzezinski has called the “global political awakening.” While one author is a Republican and the other a Democrat, they broadly agree on the need to adapt to a new international environment. Where they disagree, their exchanges are always both deeply informed and provocative. America and the World will define the center of responsible opinion on American foreign policy at a time when the nation’s decisions could determine how long it remains a superpower.


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The status of the United States as a world power, and the nature of power itself, are at a historic turning point. It is essential that we understand and adapt to the new security environment in which we find ourselves.Two of the most respected figures in American foreign policy are Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft—both former National Security Advisors under marked The status of the United States as a world power, and the nature of power itself, are at a historic turning point. It is essential that we understand and adapt to the new security environment in which we find ourselves.Two of the most respected figures in American foreign policy are Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft—both former National Security Advisors under markedly different administrations. In America and the World they dissect, in spontaneous and unscripted conversations moderated by David Ignatius, the most significant foreign policy challenges facing the U.S.: the Middle East, Russia, China, Europe, the Developing World, the changing nature of power in a globalized world, and what Brzezinski has called the “global political awakening.” While one author is a Republican and the other a Democrat, they broadly agree on the need to adapt to a new international environment. Where they disagree, their exchanges are always both deeply informed and provocative. America and the World will define the center of responsible opinion on American foreign policy at a time when the nation’s decisions could determine how long it remains a superpower.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    In the spring leading up to the 2008 election, this conversation between two former National Security Advisors, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinksi, and moderated by veteran foreign policy journalist David Ignatius, touched on the state of the world and how America should interact. Both men believe in American exceptionalism, not merely because of our enormous luck in geography and resources, but because our diverse population has given us strength. The development of our democracy followed In the spring leading up to the 2008 election, this conversation between two former National Security Advisors, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinksi, and moderated by veteran foreign policy journalist David Ignatius, touched on the state of the world and how America should interact. Both men believe in American exceptionalism, not merely because of our enormous luck in geography and resources, but because our diverse population has given us strength. The development of our democracy followed a path that is not replicable, probably, in the rest of the world, but it has given us the resilience we needed to develop a strong sense of the value of personal initiative. Both men conclude that what matters most, what guides our hand in foreign policy, are values. In 2008, both men agreed that Obama and Hillary Clinton embodied those values. These two highly respected foreign policy analysts are known as “realists” on different sides of the political spectrum but they both recognize the need to balance realism and idealism in a national leader. We are again at the crossroads to choose a national leader, and the candidate who most effectively balances realism with idealism will win. In eight years much has changed, but much has stayed the same. At that time the two men discussed the withdrawal from Iraq: Brzezinski was more precipitous in his recommendation for an immediate draw down, Scowcroft believed we “broke it, we own it,” though neither man thought it was wise to invade Iraq in the first place. But both men placed as the most important foreign policy issue needing addressing is resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Imagine. Still. “And you know, the moment Israel and Palestine are reconciled, they have a chance together of becoming the Singapore of the Middle East.” (Brzezinski). “Lebanon is one of the most fragile states in the world. But for a long time, Beirut was the entrepột and Paris of the region. Lebanon was a fragile, carefully balanced multipolar state….I think it is possible for people who don’t agree on all the same things to live together and prosper.” (Scowcroft) Brzezinski often refers in his dialogue to disparities in wealth in America and in the context of nations and how dangerous this is becoming. He sees in that disparity larger issues rooted in the need for restraint and recognition of the dignity of all individuals, no matter their race, religion, or social group. Both men recognize that fostering a “culture of fear” in our rhetoric will sideline more critical issues that need to be addressed, like climate change. “…America can only respond to them if it manages to shape a whole series of differentiated coalitions that are dedicated to a collective response.” [May I point out here that young Americans are doing this despite the stodgy intransigence of their parents—to address opportunity and wealth inequality and climate change. Occupy was not a one-off fringe movement, we belatedly realize at our peril.] Both men talk about the speed of communication and the spread of ideas as something that is accelerating access to information and change, making it more difficult for nations to defend widely unpopular polices. “Americans tend to a kind of universal activism. Europeans are more preoccupied with what they are and would like to nurture and preserve it. Maybe by combining the two, we can achieve a close transatlantic communication that would be healthy for both of us…In the more developed parts of Europe there is a real absence of the kind of social iniquities and disparities that exist in the United States. These disparities are not healthy. I don’t think they are in keeping with our values…I think we have a lot to learn from Europeans, who in that respect have moved towards a more just and genuinely democratic society than ours.” (Brzezinski)"One of the fundamental differences between Europe and the United States is that Europe has developed in such a way that they’ve had to get along with each other. As a result of geographical limitations, they’ve increasingly lived in larger urban units and therefore had had to have rules for behavior, rules for managing people’s interaction with each other. People who couldn’t stand that kind of confining regulation tended to come over to the United States. As communities on the U.S. east coast started to develop the same need to manage people’s interactions, those who chafed under regulation moved to our open and empty west. As a result, the U.S. has developed a much stronger tendency to resent government. Hence the motto that government is best that governs least.” (Scowcroft) Scowcroft raises something I have never explicitly thought about before in terms of global politics: that population and resource pressure in China is something that may eventually cause them to cast a hungry eye on Russia. "When you look at the border between China and Russia, the demographics and the demands on natural resources are such that there’s something almost unnatural about the map in that part of the world. On one side of the border is a huge space, as large as the rest of Asia,, inhabited by thirty-five million people. On the other side, the rest of Asia, inhabited by three and a half billion people, one and a half billion of whom are expanding dramatically, getting wealthier, richer, more powerful, more modern. Is that an enduring situation?”(Scowcroft)There is much, much more: they talk of Putin and the pressures within Russia, some of which have broken out into action in the years since this book was written. It was a bit sketchy on our relationship with China and Asia generally, partly because these men were in office before China was really a major force in our economy and politics. They talk of the need for talks with Iran, which also happened in the years since this book was written. All in all, it was ravishingly interesting, and not so distant that it feels like history.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Ah yes, a fake phony staged candid interview published for the semi-literate masses to consume. Perfect for the NPR, PBS Frontline crowd to drop into conversation. This book wasn't worthless but the idea that these guys are giving you the straight scoop is laughable. For example, Brzezinski talks alot about Al-Qaeda and Muslim terrorists and how they are a problem yadda yadda yadda. He fails to mention that he funded and promoted Al-Qaeda in 1979 to radicalize the Muslims in Afghanistan before the Ah yes, a fake phony staged candid interview published for the semi-literate masses to consume. Perfect for the NPR, PBS Frontline crowd to drop into conversation. This book wasn't worthless but the idea that these guys are giving you the straight scoop is laughable. For example, Brzezinski talks alot about Al-Qaeda and Muslim terrorists and how they are a problem yadda yadda yadda. He fails to mention that he funded and promoted Al-Qaeda in 1979 to radicalize the Muslims in Afghanistan before the Russians invaded. He also funded and groomed Osama bin Laden as a CIA asset. Here is a picture of our buddy Zbigniew and Osama BFF. http://farm1.static.flickr.com/18/687... So when Zbigniew says anything bear in mind that this guys main strategy is to play both sides against the middle. As far as Scrowcroft is concerned, he plays a supporting role in these conversations. I did find it interesting that he admited that he was in the flying command bunker on 9/11 and involved in conversations with Bush and Cheney. So the notion that these are just kindly old gentlemen with no involvement in the current administrations is absurd. If you read any of the information about the Sibel Edmonds case, Scowcroft plays a big role in the behind the scenes financing of 9/11. The middle part of the book implies that the US will move towards a detente with Iran and move away from Israel. The last part of the book is the heart of the matter, global climate change hype, we need to get rid of national sovereignty, etc...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shyames

    Bardzo ciekawe spojrzenie na politykę Stanów Zjednoczonych w zakresie zarówno bezpieczeństwa wewnętrznego, jak i światowego. Szczególnie istotne ze względu na to, że wypowiadają się byli doradcy ds. bezpieczeństwa, a także dlatego, że przy jednym stole, bez żadnych problemów i animozji byli w stanie zasiąść Republikanin i Demokrata. O ile nie zdziwiło mnie za bardzo, że w 90% zgadzam się z Demokratą, to lektura była pouczająca ze względu na datę jej wydania - 2008 rok. Ciekawie jest oceniać jak Bardzo ciekawe spojrzenie na politykę Stanów Zjednoczonych w zakresie zarówno bezpieczeństwa wewnętrznego, jak i światowego. Szczególnie istotne ze względu na to, że wypowiadają się byli doradcy ds. bezpieczeństwa, a także dlatego, że przy jednym stole, bez żadnych problemów i animozji byli w stanie zasiąść Republikanin i Demokrata. O ile nie zdziwiło mnie za bardzo, że w 90% zgadzam się z Demokratą, to lektura była pouczająca ze względu na datę jej wydania - 2008 rok. Ciekawie jest oceniać jak bardzo przewidywania sprzed ośmiu lat się sprawdziły (bądź nie), a także odnieść niektóre pytania "co będzie" do nowo wybranego prezydenta-elekta.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    In spring 2008, journalist David Ignatius interviewed Brzezinski and Scowcroft, former advisors to Carter and Bush I, respectively. This book, which is the transcript, is informative and very readable. Each chapter deals with a different region of the world; the book as a whole follows a few recurring themes, such as how the U.S. can regain respect on a global scale. Though I enjoyed reading this book, I found some of the assertions presented to be questionable, if not disturbing. Perhaps more d In spring 2008, journalist David Ignatius interviewed Brzezinski and Scowcroft, former advisors to Carter and Bush I, respectively. This book, which is the transcript, is informative and very readable. Each chapter deals with a different region of the world; the book as a whole follows a few recurring themes, such as how the U.S. can regain respect on a global scale. Though I enjoyed reading this book, I found some of the assertions presented to be questionable, if not disturbing. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that there is doubtless much more going on behind the scenes than the average citizen will ever know. Read it, and read between the lines.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lezlie

    Highly recommended for anyone interested in foreign policy...it is the recorded conversation of two highly regarded former National Security Advisors, Brzezinski and Scowcroft, who served under Carter and Bush, Sr./Ford, respectively, and moderated by Washington Post writer Ignatius. It is very engaging and covers topics from Iraq to the rising of China to the European Union. If you've ever had the pleasure of seeing Brzezinski interviewed, you can hear his voice as you read with so much wisdom Highly recommended for anyone interested in foreign policy...it is the recorded conversation of two highly regarded former National Security Advisors, Brzezinski and Scowcroft, who served under Carter and Bush, Sr./Ford, respectively, and moderated by Washington Post writer Ignatius. It is very engaging and covers topics from Iraq to the rising of China to the European Union. If you've ever had the pleasure of seeing Brzezinski interviewed, you can hear his voice as you read with so much wisdom and practicality oozing from the pages. I loved it. It was certainly not dry, political textbook matter, but a fascinating view into the minds of two brilliant men.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Clayton Cummings

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is an excellent piece of journalism by David Ignatius that delves into the world's problems near the end of the Bush Administration. In this 2008 interview of two former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, they discuss everything from China, European Union, Climate Change, Israel-Palestinian conflict, Iran, xenophobia, and Vladimir Putin. Although these two men didn't anticipate Russia's annexation of Crimea or the migrant crisis, they accurately warn about th This is an excellent piece of journalism by David Ignatius that delves into the world's problems near the end of the Bush Administration. In this 2008 interview of two former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, they discuss everything from China, European Union, Climate Change, Israel-Palestinian conflict, Iran, xenophobia, and Vladimir Putin. Although these two men didn't anticipate Russia's annexation of Crimea or the migrant crisis, they accurately warn about the dangers of xenophobia and Putin's nature. They also signal the future support for what would eventually be the Iran Deal. In this book they both support a non ideological approach to promoting American values. They both come to the conclusion that we need to lead by example, but also remain part of the international order.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    Pet Peeve: Those who use "America" to signify the United States. Throw that into the title and we're off to a bad start. Former foreign policy bigwigs Brzezinski and Scowcroft face off in a moderated discussion where the two agree about pretty much everything regarding U.S. global intervention. Certainly some polished populist opinions surface that would not have made their way onto any foreign policy memorandums. Less of an earnest tête-à-tête and more of NAF propagandized "the U.S. is the well- Pet Peeve: Those who use "America" to signify the United States. Throw that into the title and we're off to a bad start. Former foreign policy bigwigs Brzezinski and Scowcroft face off in a moderated discussion where the two agree about pretty much everything regarding U.S. global intervention. Certainly some polished populist opinions surface that would not have made their way onto any foreign policy memorandums. Less of an earnest tête-à-tête and more of NAF propagandized "the U.S. is the well-meaning inheritor of a world that constantly forces its hand" view. Oh, the giggles they would have shared when the tapes stopped rolling.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Breck

    This book is basically a mediated interview between Brzezinski and Scowcroft, two National Security Advisors for Presidents Carter and Bush Sr. The mediator asks them questions about different foreign policy issues facing America and lets them take turns answering and discussing the current situation and how America should engage them. The topics include Iraq, Iran, Arab-Israeli Conflict, China, Japan, EU and a host of other foreign policy issues. I loved this book because it gave me a clear pic This book is basically a mediated interview between Brzezinski and Scowcroft, two National Security Advisors for Presidents Carter and Bush Sr. The mediator asks them questions about different foreign policy issues facing America and lets them take turns answering and discussing the current situation and how America should engage them. The topics include Iraq, Iran, Arab-Israeli Conflict, China, Japan, EU and a host of other foreign policy issues. I loved this book because it gave me a clear picture of what is happening in the world and what the next President needs to look at doing in order to improve our image and change the world for the better. I felt that both former NSAs were fairly non-biased and non-partisan although one is a Dem and one a Republican.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    This was a great read for a very balanced and intelligent discussion on US foreign policy. The book is written in a interview format between Zbigniew and Scowcrorft, foreign policy advisers to the Carter and Bush 1 presidencies. Both have incredible understanding and detailed knowledge of the issues that US foreign policy needs to deal with in the future administration. Overall, this book is a great summary of the issues that the US needs to deal with in the next administration and they are disc This was a great read for a very balanced and intelligent discussion on US foreign policy. The book is written in a interview format between Zbigniew and Scowcrorft, foreign policy advisers to the Carter and Bush 1 presidencies. Both have incredible understanding and detailed knowledge of the issues that US foreign policy needs to deal with in the future administration. Overall, this book is a great summary of the issues that the US needs to deal with in the next administration and they are discussed with adequate balance and understanding of the current status of the world that makes this book a pleasure to read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    Although written before the 2008 presidential election, this book and the conversations therein have not lost their relevance. Brzezinski and Scowcroft recognize that America in the 21st century has reason to be kinder, gentler, humbler, and more cooperative than the America of the Cold War days. They continue to believe in the fundamental goodness of American values but worry that the government has gone off the rails since the war on terrorism. I didn't find myself saying "ah-ha!" more than a Although written before the 2008 presidential election, this book and the conversations therein have not lost their relevance. Brzezinski and Scowcroft recognize that America in the 21st century has reason to be kinder, gentler, humbler, and more cooperative than the America of the Cold War days. They continue to believe in the fundamental goodness of American values but worry that the government has gone off the rails since the war on terrorism. I didn't find myself saying "ah-ha!" more than a couple of times throughout the book, but I enjoyed reading two experienced public servants speak wisely about America's future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    A candid conversation between two former national security advisors: Zbigniew Brzinzki (from the Carter administration) and Brent Scowcroft (Ford and Bush Sr. administrations) and moderated by Washington Post journalist David Ignatius regarding the future of foreign policy based upon where we have been and where the trends of globalization are taking us. The book takes a while to start into, but after the first chapter it quickly became engrossing. Extremely interesting subject matter, very info A candid conversation between two former national security advisors: Zbigniew Brzinzki (from the Carter administration) and Brent Scowcroft (Ford and Bush Sr. administrations) and moderated by Washington Post journalist David Ignatius regarding the future of foreign policy based upon where we have been and where the trends of globalization are taking us. The book takes a while to start into, but after the first chapter it quickly became engrossing. Extremely interesting subject matter, very informative, and surprisingly easy to understand. This would make a good read for every American who is concerned about America's future role on the international stage.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    BRILLIANT. It took me awhile because I would read a chapter and digest it for a couple days. These three men are some of our brightest minds and I really enjoyed their perspective. I really think it is important in the face of our difficult foreign policy problems to discuss those issues, agree and disagree as we will, and really just try and reach a consensus. Dialogue is never worthless if both parties are open to solving the challenge. Brzezinski and Scowcroft are a microcosm for the kind of BRILLIANT. It took me awhile because I would read a chapter and digest it for a couple days. These three men are some of our brightest minds and I really enjoyed their perspective. I really think it is important in the face of our difficult foreign policy problems to discuss those issues, agree and disagree as we will, and really just try and reach a consensus. Dialogue is never worthless if both parties are open to solving the challenge. Brzezinski and Scowcroft are a microcosm for the kind of debate that should be seriously going on in Washington every day.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    EXCELLENT! Interesting and revealing. I really like the way Brzenzinski presents his side of the issues and found myself agreeing with his take on things most of the way through the whole book. It gives me hope that if handled correctly our country and once again return to the great nation we used to be. But the damage has been done and he and Snowcroft analyse it in a very precise and factual way that keeps you grounded. Not light reading though. :-)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    Stimulating dialogues between Scowcroft and Brzezinski, two well-regarded National Security Advisors who have seen how American foreign policy is formulated and implemented from the inside. The two men agree on most main points, but they are able to contribute to one another's answers to produce deeper conversations than those you would see on the nightly news. They put forward thoroughly pragmatic ideas regarding all the troubled areas of US foreign policy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    What is interesting about this book is that it is in a conversation format between former NSA advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, moderated by Washington Post reporter, David Ignatius. These gentlemen have a lot of interesting advice for the future and to me, most of it is spot on. This book definitely gave me a lot to ponder.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Arnie

    Focused on relations with the Middle East, China and Russia. I like Brzezinski's realist approach but was looking forward to a more substantive debate with Scowcroft than the resulting coalescence of ideals which seemed a product of the moderator's direction. An easy read, but personally, I am not a fan of the moderator format. Given this format, I would have preferred an audio version.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Book was just ok to me. I'm not that much of a foreign policy buff, so I thought this might help give me more perspective and possibly spark an interest in international diplomacy. I did learn some things from the book, but for me, I did not gain much other than a few interesting facts. Plus, I found the back and forth q&a interview transcript format really bizarre for such a lengthy book. Book was just ok to me. I'm not that much of a foreign policy buff, so I thought this might help give me more perspective and possibly spark an interest in international diplomacy. I did learn some things from the book, but for me, I did not gain much other than a few interesting facts. Plus, I found the back and forth q&a interview transcript format really bizarre for such a lengthy book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    A fascinating read, listening in on the conversation between two long time foreign policy experts, each having worked under various presidents over time. Each has over 20 years of experience in foreign policy. One is a Republican, one a Democrat but they generally agree one most of the issues brought up in the book, although there were some key differences in perspectives.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rob Shurmer

    An enlightened conversation between three wise, informed, and experienced old hands at the foreign policy game. The content, of course, will become increasingly dated, but there's great wisdom and cautionary advice here concerning both theory and practice.

  20. 5 out of 5

    muraguri

    A bit dated only because it was published in 2008 and some time has passed so we know more. However interesting to see how events have played out since then based on their predictions. Still much of relevance in here though. An updated edition would be welcome if they decided to do it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cario Lam

    Two former National Security advisers discuss their views on America's current relationship with the rest of the world. Both were Cold War warriors who I don't remember as being this moderate. Maybe this is proof that we all mellow with age.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Excellent book. It is as if three brilliant minds welcomed me to afternoon coffee w/milk and cookies everytime I picked up the book. Simply a joy to read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Taufan Muhammad

    what an unique book, perceive the new america foreign policy through their conversation

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Outstanding.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lars

    Conversations between to of biggest names in US foreign policy, moderated by one of the best journalists i the world. What's not to like?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dominik Stecula

    The whole format of this book is fantastic. The conversation between three intelligent and experienced foreign policy experts makes for an entertaining read. So far I enjoy it immensely.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lars K Jensen

    Conversations between to of biggest names in US foreign policy, moderated by one of the best journalists i the world. What's not to like?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    Pretty good, I'll put more about it later

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ceren

    I really like the "rountable" feel of this book. It was a bit more fun to follow.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jack Bootjesus

    Excellent. Two old cold-warriors and political realists discuss the global political situation in the 21st century.

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