THE EMPTY THRONE by Ivo H. Daalder


America's Abdication of Global Leadership
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In their second book, Daalder and Lindsay (co-authors: America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy, 2003) skewer almost every decision made by Donald Trump regarding the role of the United States on the world stage.

The co-authors, both experts in the field of foreign policy, explain that after World War II, U.S. presidents and their staffs made conscious decisions to assume the leadership role among all nations, not only for the benefit of the U.S., but also to advance social and economic progress in other countries. Some readers might react skeptically to such a rosy interpretation of foreign policy motives since 1945, but that hypothesis undergirds the narrative. Trump’s detractors will delight in the authors’ unrelenting criticism of the president, who is portrayed as selfish in his emphasis on “America First” and as ignorant for ignoring those he tapped to supposedly advise him. Daalder and Lindsay hark back to a 1987 letter Trump paid to publish in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe titled “There’s Nothing Wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy That a Little Backbone Can’t Cure.” Even then, it demonstrated his disdain for economic and military cooperation with other nations. The authors consistently demonstrate their grasp of what many other commentators failed to understand during the 2016 campaign: that Trump would never alter his rigid views if and when he occupied the White House. Within their negative critique of Trump, the authors offer alarming—and occasionally alarmist—scenarios about how the president might be ceding world leadership to the Chinese government. “A Chinese-dominated world would not be friendly to the United States,” they write. “Beijing has little incentive to resolve security crises to Washington’s satisfaction.”

This book, pretty much ripped from the headlines, contains nothing surprising for followers of current affairs, but it’s accessibly written and has worth as a primer for the previously inattentive.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5417-7385-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2018


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