Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

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  • A timely topic. There are some new book references that are pertinent although not specific to Pakistan:
    • America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder; by Bret Stephens (Pulitzer prize foreign affairs columnist and WSJ editor)
    • Outpost: Life on the frontlines of American Diplomacy; by Christopher Hill (Former Ambassador to Iraq, Korea, Poland, Macedonia and current Dean of International studies at the University of Denver)
    • The Accidental Superpower: The next generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder; by Peter Zeihan

    Stephens book, although quite partisan, makes a general argument for the U.S. remaining active as the world policeman and the risks presented by the inconsistencies and apparent lack of commitment of the current administration.

    Christopher Hill writes a good memoir from one in the field appointed by three presidents. He is critical of the influence of Cheney and the “Neo-cons” (whoever they are) but he respected the devotion to the issues by President Bush and Condoleezza Rice. He is critical of President Obama in his lack of personal engagement and follow-through in foreign policy problems. He expresses the opinion that the Defense Department has been given a disproportional responsibility over State Department in post war political analysis and management (a turf battle that will undoubtedly continue) and its failure to recognize the intransigence of sectarianism. Both of these authors advocate the necessity of the U.S. to maintain a consistent foreign policy less reactive to the volatility of party politics as well as the risks of not being involved.

    The third book, The Accidental Superpower, Peter Zeihan somewhat like Robert Kaplan (The Revenge of Geography and Asia’s Cauldron) analyzes the demographic and geographic determinants of each region and concludes that the U.S. is so overwhelmingly advantaged that it will be the sole successful state in a world of increasing failed states, a somewhat gloom and doom isolationist scenario.

    Taken together the three interesting books cover the spectrum of the case for U.S. international engagement; with Christopher Hill clearly in the middle.

    Art and Butler are correct in pointing out that India is a key in the area and that the India/U.S. relations are fragile. In this regard, the inconsistency and volatility of U.S. commitments in any aspect of its foreign policy undermines India’s confidence, leading to further isolation and polarization

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