Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor offers an astute, elegant appraisal of the waning of America’s “global appeal” and the severe consequences of the shifting of power from West to East.
Despite filling the vacuum left after the fall of the Soviet Union, the West is tottering as a global superpower. Brzezinski (American Foreign Policy/Johns Hopkins Univ.; Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower, 2007, etc.) looks carefully at this shifting redistribution in global power as the West recedes, making way for entrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America, seized by their own sense of political awareness. In his crisp, systematic fashion, the author begins by examining reasons for the waning U.S. influence, offering some pointed criticism: The “durability of its leadership is increasingly questioned worldwide because of the complexity of its internal and external challenges”; its magical twin motivations of idealism and materialism are no longer viable; its own house is in disrepair; and its populace is self-deluded and, frankly, ignorant about the rest of the world. Weakened further by its unwarranted aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. is now seen as a negative influence, arousing animus worldwide. Meanwhile, the sun is rising in the East, and Brzezinski looks at growth in China, Japan, Turkey, Russia, India and others—though the author concludes that most are plagued by too many problems to become world leaders by 2025. Other hotspots make up the “geopolitically most endangered states,” such as Georgia, Taiwan, South Korea, Belarus, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel. Ultimately, Brzezinski provides a powerful cautionary tale: By harnessing its overall strengths in terms of economic, social and political ranking, superiority of higher education, rich natural resources and population resiliency, America can indeed “rise to the occasion.”
An urgent call for “historic renewal” by one of America’s sharpest minds.