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How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership

by Madeleine Albright with Bill Woodward

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-135180-8
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

In this frank, strongly worded open letter to the next president, Madam Secretary summons her considerable experience to voice her dismay at the Bush administration’s misuse of power abroad.

Charming and witty enough to maintain the reader’s attention, Albright (The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs, 2006, etc.) does not mince words. As a keen witness to world affairs, she boldly asserts that America’s political capital has been “squandered,” presidential power “misused” and diplomacy and international law set aside in favor of aggression and bullying. She bemoans the “neglect of our allies [and] overreliance on the military, allowing the likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to be the face of America.” Although 9/11 changed the stakes on the world stage, she has lived through the horrors of the last century and feels assured that America has “faced graver risks, kept our nerve, and overcome.” The author offers numerous historical examples of presidents weathering storms throughout the centuries, largely through a faith in diplomacy, from George Washington to the elder Bush. For the president elect, Albright identifies five trends that represent the greatest threats to American interests: terror and the rise of anti-Americanism; the erosion of international consensus on nuclear proliferation; doubts about the value of democracy; the backlash against globalization; and the tendency in America to withdraw in the face of threats. In Part One, she examines the nuts and bolts of the presidency, looking at past models and noting the importance of assembling a sound staff and having the courage to use force, the media and congressional leadership. Part Two explores ways of asserting effective foreign policy, especially where America’s reputation has been tarnished, such as in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Albright also provides pointed suggestions for dealing with crises in Venezuela, Pakistan, North Korea and Iraq.

Fighting words from a political sage.