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Alliance Curse: How America Lost the Third World Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; 1 edition (June 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815775563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815775560
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,243,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With friends like the dictators with which it regularly sides, the United States doesn't need enemies, argues this wide-ranging critique of American foreign policy. Root (Capital & Collusion) posits that, in the search for securing access to natural resources and investment opportunities in developing countries, American leaders find it cheaper and more expedient to prop up corrupt autocrats than deal with democracies. The consequences are dire, he contends: American aid lets dictatorships consolidate power while ignoring the needs of their people; when they inevitably fall, America often gets dragged into futile military interventions that leave it disgraced and unpopular. Root elaborates these themes in case studies of U.S. relations with South Vietnam, the Philippines, Iran, Iraq and other countries; his surveys proffer intriguing insights into the failings of America's allies and the surprising successes of enemies like Communist China and Islamic Iran. Root's discussions, citing everything from game theory to the marginal utility of supporting the Vietcong, can be dry and excessively technical, which is a shame, because his prescriptions for American foreign policy—less focus on military security, more on economic development and social reform—are well-grounded and compelling. (July)
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Review

"Roots prescriptions for American foreign policy--less focus on military security, more on economic development--are well-grounded and compelling." — Publishers Weekly



"His prescriptions for American foreign policy--less focus on military security, more on economic development--are well-grounded and compelling." — Publishers Weekly



"engaging and provocative...highly recommended." — CHOICE


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Jewel on September 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this book for reading. I really enjoyed reading this book. It provides systematic and logical analysis of why newly established nations fail, what could be said about the American foreign policy and its roles in a changing global environment. You will learn about foreign policy failures deriving from inside American institutions and those deriving from the American interests abroad. Then, in-depth case studies on China, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Iran and other developing countries backs up the Author's conclusion.

The main thesis for this book is:
The highly politicized U.S. foreign policy with negligence on the ever changing international environment, relying on military solutions, and directing foreign aid improperly to protect America's interests will pose greater threats to America's security in the long run; and, will create greater regional instability putting America in an "alliance trap" with autocratic regimes. The failure of such policies was evidenced by in depth case studies on China, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Iran and several other developing countries. The U.S. should reconsider its foreign policy in terms of providing aid to countries with autocratic, crony leaders who use the aid to maintain their political patronage.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is some controversy about the quote, but it is often reported that in 1939 Franklin Roosevelt said of Nicaragua's Somoza, "He may be a son of a bitch but he's our son of a bitch". But perhaps it was Acheson speaking about Tito or Dulles about someone else. The fact that it coulld have been any of them, or any other of our policy makers, just amplifies how that quote distills the fallacy that has been central to our international relations under every President since Roosevelt and continuing to this day. We keep thinking we are going to win by siding with bad guys. And it keeps not working out.
In this masterly and thoroughly-researched book, Hilton Root takes on an in-depth tour of the misapprehensions and wishful thinking that have repeatedly led us into alliances that have hurt both us and the people of the countries we were supposedly trying to help.
Why do our military alliances not increase our security? Why are our foreign aid efforts often destructive instead of productive? What were we thinking with Chiang Kai-shek, Marcos, Musharraf or the Shah of Iran? Historical questions, but herein lie the answers to the questions posed by today's headlines. As I write, those questions include for example, why is Egypt in turmoil, and Turkey, and Syria, and so on. This book becomes even more relevant with each passing month.
Root does not appear to have a particular ideoology and this does not come across as a "political" book. The tone is clear-eyed and dispassionate, the arguments are primarily based on economic analysis.But I did not find it "dry", this is economics applied to political and historical analysis in a most clever and engaging way,
This book should be required reading for our policy makers. It is a brilliant book, and an important one.
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