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The Silence of the Rational Center Hardcover – February 13, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The experts we trust to provide guidance to our elected officials have failed us, seduced by the lure of cable television fame and popular book sales, argue Halper and Clarke (coauthors of America Alone: The Neoconservatives and the Global Order). Abandoning scholarship, too many have instead set off in search of the next Big Idea in foreign policy that purports to explain the world in five words or less. This phenomenon is not new—the authors identify Big Ideas from manifest destiny through the domino theory to the clash of civilizations—but the tendency to simplify a complex reality has become especially pernicious in the Iraq war debate. Finding targets on the right and left, the authors excoriate the Heritage Foundation as much as Noam Chomsky for lowering the level of public discourse. Though sometimes overblown (e.g., calling a public intellectual's decision to pen a regular op-ed column for a major daily newspaper a “Faustian arrangement with the media”), they paint a picture familiar to anyone who follows politics. Ironically, for a work that praises dispassionate, in-depth investigation, this book would have been better as a short essay.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

These conservative foreign-policy experts are frustrated with the failure of experienced foreign-policy experts (i.e., their peers) to remain pragmatic, calm, and effectively influential in the face of novel and complicated foreign-policy challenges. They blame this failure on a dysfunctional relationship between the decision makers, the experts, and the media during times of national stress, such as the Vietnam War and the present day. According to them, Americans' unique susceptibility to Big Idea mythologies of national purpose combines with the 24/7 media's need for highly opinionated, quotable experts, creating a toxic symbiosis in which the uninformed attract more attention than they deserve and rational experts are either seduced into jingoism or drowned out. A more rational foreign policy, they argue, would be less ideologically motivated and more effective in dealing with impending challenges, namely, an increasingly strong China. Aimed at fellow think-tankers as well as their enablers, the general public, this account is a follow-up to the authors' recent America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (2004), which ventilated a similar set of frustrations about failed national conversations. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465011411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465011414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,353,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While many are calling for alternatives to a buildup of troops in Iraq, few understand where such proposals come from and who shapes them. THE SILENCE OF THE RATIONAL CENTER: WHY AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IS FAILING examines career professionals - academics, journalists, scholars and retired politicians - who are the real gatekeepers for foreign policy information. Public debate has taken second place to behind-the-scenes actions and influences: THE SILENCE OF THE RATIONAL CENTER seeks to examine these influences and consider how public voice can again help influence policy direction in the international community. It's a pick for both college-level collections strong in political science and general-interest holdings alike.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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