The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (Unabridged)
by Vali Nasr
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Former State Department advisor for Afghanistan and Pakistan and best-selling author Vali Nasr delivers a sharp indictment of America's flawed foreign policy and outlines a new relationship with the Muslim world and with new players in the changing Middle East. In this essential new book, Vali Nasr argues that the Obama administration had a chance to improve its relations with the Middle East, but instead chose to pursue its predecessor's questionable strategies there. Nasr takes listeners behind the scenes at the State Department and reveals how the new government's fear of political backlash and the specter of terrorism crippled the efforts of diplomatic giants, like Richard Holbrooke and Hillary Clinton, to boost America's foundering credibility with world leaders. Meanwhile, the true economic threats, China and Russia, were quietly expanding their influence in the region. And a second Arab Spring is brewing - not a hopeful clamor for democracy but rage at the United States for its foreign policy of drones and assassinations. Drawing on his in-depth knowledge of the Middle East and firsthand experience in diplomacy, Nasr offers a powerful reassessment of American foreign policy that directs the country away from its failing relationships in the Middle East (such as with Saudi Arabia) toward more productive, and less costly, partnerships with other foreign allies (such as Turkey). Forcefully persuasive, Vali Nasr's book is a game changer for America as it charts a course in the Muslim world, Asia, and beyond.
Diplomacy is lost on 21st Century US Presidents
This book is a must read for anyone interested in foreign policy wonkery. Nasr's understanding of the successes and failures of American foreign policy in Central Asia and the Middle East is lucid. Be warned that his opinions in this book are strong. But they are also a welcome reminder of how neglected the US State Department in general, and diplomacy specifically, has been neglected by the past two Presidential administrations.
I am skeptical of Nasr's sweeping inferences about the future, but these are easy topics to disagree on. Overall, he makes a coherent argument for his position and is genuinely concerned about the Obama Administration's inability to develop a coherent foreign policy strategy, or engage Iran and Pakistan over resolving issues of mutual interest. It was disappointing to learn how unwilling the Obama Administration has been to engage Iran when given the opportunity, but instead chose to continue Bush's legacy of political expedience over engagement.
This book is well-written and insightful, I highly recommend you spend the time to digest it...then pass it on to any friends in the White House.