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Global Domination
or Global Leadership

Zbigniew Brzezinski
Basic Books, 242 pages

Review by Hershey Philbin at http://www.hersheyphilbin.com/news/hpa/031904.html

If you're looking for a quick read with a clear overview of where America is in the world today, Zbigniew Brzezinski's new book, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, is certainly first rate.

It's a timely, accessible world view, summing up the core international issues facing the U.S. today as well as offering wily insights and arguments for more informed public debate on the subject moving into the election season.

Brzezinski's thesis is that the post-cold war, post-September 11 global reality has placed the U.S. in the unique world-shaping situation of being the only nation capable of providing both global stability through military policing, while at the same time, instigating global instability through the American-driven "cultural erosion" impacting on many societies around the world.

As a result America is historically poised to either move the planet forward by defining and mobilizing the next phase of globalization; or bogging down in a protracted war against terrorism, the end of which Brzezinski sees as an Orwellian world of perpetual insecurity.

He writes:

"America's power, asserting in a dominant fashion the nation's sovereignty, is today the ultimate guarantor of global stability, yet American society stimulates global social trends that dilute traditional national sovereignty. American Power and American social dynamics working together, could promote the gradual emergence of a global community of shared interest. Misused and in collision, they could push the world into chaos while leaving America beleaguered." (page vii).

He argues that global domination is an exhaustive illusion while global leadership based on human rights and "interdependency" is the only option for America's future. Clearly the world is in major historic transition and, like it or not, we are the driving force militarily and culturally for directing that change.

The question remains, what is America's vision for that future, and how will we cause that vision to unfold globally?

While our military increasingly provides global policing, American cultural and economic forces, based on two centuries of individual freedoms and economic evolution, threaten the status quo of nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran, (not to mention France and Russia).

Everybody wants (and is entitled to) a piece of the "American Dream", and informed world populations know what that means in an existential sense; but many of the world's governments are incapable of delivering that social reality without American leadership and interaction.

Our technology and economic engines churn the world's economy, moving wealth around the globe to "friendly" nations who cooperate with us, while passing over impoverished "foes" who both envy our freedoms and affluence, and hate us for ignoring their political status and their claim to an equal future.

Brzezinski points to a future:

"The quest for a wise foreign policy must begin with the realization that "globalization" in its essence means global interdependence. Such interdependence does not ensure equality of status or even equality of security for all nations. But it means no nation has total immunity from the consequences of the technological revolution that has so vastly increased the human capability to inflict violence and yet tightened the bonds that increasingly tie humanity together." (page ix).

Brzezinski argues for a more complex and sophisticated view of America's global role than most of our media and political leadership are currently discussing. We are the world's policeman, but we have to be perceived as the fair cop. We are entitled to a higher level of security than other nations (he argues) because we assume greater risks, but we are also the major proponent of the essential human freedoms required to elevate globalization to its next level.

Brzezinski again:

"Globalization, which America both favors and promotes, can help to dampen global turmoil -- provided it does not disfranchise but empowers the poorer countries, and provided it is infused with humane concerns and not defined by economic self-interest alone. The U.S. attitude toward multilateral obligations, especially those that do not conveniently coincide with America's narrower and more immediate objectives, is the litmus test of its readiness to promote a globalization that genuinely advances equitable interdependence and not uneven dependence." (page 227).

In addition to articulating his main arguments, Brzezinski takes readers on a brief global tour, region by region, of U.S. foreign policy, clarifying the inevitable contradictions and tensions that enmesh a democratic society that is also the world power.

He also provides a timely analysis of the Bush administration's strategies, and articulates his own vision of the way forward -- all in a little over 200 pages.

The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, is a helpful, lucid assessment of where we stand in the world today and it is informed by decades of experience on the front lines of foreign policy and strategic thinking.

Mr. Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, a Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, has written one of the most important books on U.S. foreign policy since the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.



Additional information, Perseus Books Group:

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