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One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy Paperback – January 25, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Very rarely do I read a "policy wonkish" book in which I so clearly agree with the diagnosed problem, but feel like the solutions offered leave me completely at sea.
Allison Stanger's One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy is such a book.
Stanger is no slouch. She is Middlebury College's Russell Leng `60 Professor of International Politics and Economics, and directs the college's Rohatyn Center for International Affairs. Her clear, concise, and thoughtful new book is "blurbed" by some high-powered people, including USMC General Anthony Zinni (who calls Stanger's analysis "a superb work on government outsourcing and contracting"); Canadian Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff ("a clarion call to bring the business of government under more effective public control"); and Harvard University professor Joseph Nye ("well-reasoned").
But her book's conclusions left me scratching my head.
Stanger sets out to answer a big and crucially important question: In an age in which governments around the world have "outsourced" nearly everything to private for-profit corporations, how do citizens reestablish effective oversight over private-public partnerships? This outsourcing problem is so vast and extensive that even the Establishment New York Times, an overexuberant cheerleader for U.S. foreign policy if ever there was one, referred to contractors as a "fourth branch of government" in 2007, a sign of just how troublesome things have become.
Stanger's extended case-study is the United States, a "republic-turned-Empire" (to her credit, Stanger is willing to entertain the use of the term "empire" to describe U.S.Read more ›
Dire as these problems are for America's continued strength, Dr. Stanger's conclusion is wise. She understands what many activists do not -- that private businesses and nonprofit organizations are now part and parcel of foreign policy worldwide, and that the movement towards a more open world in which private citizens make a significant impact on world affairs can't be stopped. The clock can't be turned back, she says: we live in a world where Bill and Melinda Gates can do more for malaria in Africa than most governments, and where the decisions of Walmart affect trade more than the demands of most countries. These are facts on the ground--they are caused by globalization, increased wealth, and the internet--they can't be reversed without returning to totalitarian states or a world of reduced connections between countries that would impoverish billions. Dr. Stanger thoughtfully concludes that when change cannot be fought, it should be understood, and managed.Read more ›
The Dept. of Defense is a good place to start. Stanger points out that the Pentagon's acquisition workforce shrank 25% between 1990-2000, while the volume of contracting increased 7X, and that between 2002-2005, the number of its contract employees rose from 3.4 million to 5.2 million. A key point here is that the simplest way to handled increased contracting with reduced staff is to issue giant contracts that allow subcontracting as desired - including evaluations. Thus, we end up with contracts that generate sub-contracts that generate sub-contracts, etc., for as many as five layers - adding costs at every layer. Then there's the missing billions in Iraq. Another typical problem is that various reports on procurement estimate that at least half of these contracts take place without full and open competition. Thus, there is no need for surprise when Stanger points out that a school costing ASAID $25,000 to build in Afghanistan could have instead be built for $50,000 by local Afghans (and probably generated good feelings for the U.S. at the same time). As for quality - shoddy electrical work by KBR is blamed for the deaths of at least 18 soldiers in Iraq, and Blackwater Security severely damaged U.S. credibility when it killed 17 civilians in Baghdad.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Started it and lost it before I could finish... Was a bit to much for myself to handle.Published 22 months ago by Eric Marchewka
great book. I recommend it to those that are military and work with logistics. the author presents a very interesting point of view.Published on June 28, 2012 by Rick
This book was a good read, gets fairly well into the subject. Only complaint I have is that now I'm pissed off about the massive waste. LOLPublished on December 20, 2011 by Frank
This book has a lot of problems:
1. Poorly written -- the author saps the life out of what could be a very interesting topic with boring prose and endless repetition of... Read more
Some of the talking points and statistics in this book are quite interesting to learn about. I feel however that the book is too textbook - Statistics and graphs and redundant... Read morePublished on August 2, 2011 by BrownBooks
Very insightful and informative book. The subject is detailed and explained well, for every reader to feel the
impact that our country experiences with using businesses within... Read more
The book give us a clear picture about the enormous problems that the goverment is facing because the abnoxious influence of the special interest and the corrupt politicians that... Read morePublished on March 22, 2011 by Walter Astie Burgos
the product showed up as they said it would and on time. can't ask for much more.Published on October 18, 2010 by Aaron Burkhardt
One Nation Under Contract was a disappointing read. As a senior manager with a defense contractor in Afghanistan, I was expecting to learn valuable insights on how government and... Read morePublished on April 4, 2010 by L. Hendrick