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The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership Hardcover – March 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser and the author of The Grand Chessboard, has written a perceptive overview of the disorienting new strategic challenges America faces. Though couched in the sober, nuanced language of policymaking, the book amounts to a point-by-point rebuttal of the Bush doctrine. Brzezinski criticizes what he casts as the administration's rejection of a binding alliance system in favor of ad hoc coalitions, its advocacy of preemptive war, and its refusal to address terrorism's root causes. The underlying problem, says Brzezinski, is turmoil in the "Greater Balkans," the largely Muslim southern rim of central Eurasia. While not ruling out unilateral action by America, Brzezinski believes the ultimate solution to the region's problems involves the slow expansion of the trans-Atlantic zone of prosperity and cooperative institutions. Al-Qaeda's brand of Islamic fundamentalism is in decline, he says, but "Islamist populism," its more pragmatic relation, could cause localized instability. To promote a modernizing impulse in the Muslim world, Brzezinski recommends engagement with Iran, peacemaking in the Middle East and Kashmir, and a regional nuclear nonproliferation pact. In his survey of other security threats, Brzezinski says that as China's economy grows and Japan drifts toward remilitarization, America should help build an equivalent to NATO for the Pacific. Brzezinski warns that globalization's reputation as disruptive, undemocratic and unfair could provoke a virulent anti-American ideology. To avoid becoming a "garrison state," America must establish a "co-optive hegemony," leading a "global community of shared interests." This book makes an exemplary argument for the proposition that idealistic internationalism is "the common-sense dictate of hard-nosed realism."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This latest of high-concept books on global politics by Jimmy Carter's national security advisor will obtain peak attention in foreign policy and media circles as Brzezinski's pronouncement on American strategy in a war-on-terror world. His perspective extends out about two decades, a generation-long span that is not coincidental to the author's framing theme: how current foreign youths perceptions of the U.S. will redound fundamentally upon this country's security. An underlying "dialectic," Brzezinski argues, will affect that perception: U.S. government international policies tend to uphold stability, while the global influence of American society and culture is profoundly, seductively disruptive. On the proposition that resentment of American culture finds expression in criticism of U.S. policies, Brzezinski proposes approaches to allay anti-American hostility. They flow out of his articulate survey of attitudes in Europe, the "global Balkans" (as he denotes southern Asia), Russia, China, and Japan. For those disconcerted by current events, Brzezinski's proposals represent an alternative to George W. Bush's weltanshauung. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; FIRST EDITION, THIRD PRINTING edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465008003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465008001
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,235,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Payam on October 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Brzezinski has written a good, sober admonition for the Bush Administration, yet this book lacks critical macro-economic perspective. He does not delve enough into the stakes that oil and natural gas pose in the Middle East, and the bottom-line US/UK imperatives behind the current war. He also does not touch upon the dangers facing the global dollar standard, especially in light of America's massive national debt (at 3 times GDP) and trade/account deficits. These factors are inter-related and cannot be ignored in weighing why the US is at war in the Mid-East. They are also critical factors to consider when discussing incentives behind the EU and Asia viably alligning with the U.S., let alone the Mid-East calming itself with regard to America's presence in the Mid-East.

However, considering the author's pedigree and *seemingly* independent status as observer of current world affairs (Trilateral Commission and Council of Foreign Relations membership notwithstanding), this tome is a welcome change from the myopic, hawkish strategy coming out of the Executive Branch and its league of academic supporters. For instance, the author's consistent guidance to American strategists on how best to proceed with Iran is invaluably measured, researched and prudent. His treatment of globalization as a potentially divisive phenomenon, as well as valiant mention of the increasingly intrusive effects of various ethnic interest groups/PACs in American foreign policy considerations, provide important perspectives for American readers who may very well not see the collection of said perspectives from any other mainstream American political analyst.

I would also recommend "After the Empire" by Emmanuel Todd, "The Sorrows of Empire" by Chalmers Johnson and "The Dollar Crisis" by Richard Duncan for a complete picture of what is truly at stake for the United States in this day and age. Said books help put Brzezinksi's suggestions into the proper context.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By N. Tsafos on August 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Zbigniew Brzezinski identifies the geopolitical Achilles' heel of the twenty-first century in an area he designates as the global Balkans-a geographical "swathe of Eurasia between Europe and the Far East," encompassing primarily the Middle East and Central Asia. "The Choice" is Mr. Brzezinski's analysis of the global Balkans coupled with his argument about what America's strategy should be in dealing with that unstable region.

Much of the argument runs on familiar territory, though Mr. Brzezinski's restatement is clear, concise, and comprehensive; but his analytical talents are employed mainly to support his central thesis in favor of a multilateral American foreign policy, rather than to offer new insights as to the nature or causes of instability in the global Balkans.

Broadly speaking, Mr. Brzezinski calls for strengthened alliances, preferably institutionalized, to contain the global Balkans. This strategy, Mr. Brzezinski maintains, has the added benefit of addressing both the sources of global instability as well as the potential power struggles in Europe and East Asia. His geopolitical mind runs much farther than the global Balkans and onto the future of the transatlantic partnership and the rise of China.

Although, Mr. Brzezinski tries to address contemporary debates, it is clear that his thinking looks much more into the future, into the potential geopolitical developments of this century. As a strategic vision, "The Choice" has the attractions of looking far ahead, while remaining well-tuned to the realities of the day.

At the same time, the book suffers from its brevity and scope-it is not rare for the reader to demand more depth and precision. Still, as a contribution to the broad strategic debate on the balance between leadership and domination, "The Choice" offers penetrating insights that policymakers can ignore only at their peril.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J.E.Robinson on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I feel like I have been on an overdose of these books having read House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger (excellent book) - the biggest tell all blockbuster, The Choice by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Disarming Iraq, by Hans Blix, Noam Chomsky's Hegemony of Survival, Thirty Days (about Tony Blair) by Peter Stothard, and Price of Loyalty, Paul O'Neill, Why America Slept by Gerald Posner, Against All Eneamies by Richard Clarke, and the Rise of the Vulcans by Mann and Mann. I put together a "listmania" list of the 25 best books - the best books - mainly non political, no strong bias conservative or liberal - a spectrum of opinion when you take them all together.

There is certainly a wide variety of views and all of these books are excellent. I have read and for the most part digested the views and ideas and I would strongly recommend any or all of these books to get a diverse view. One cannot begin to give these books justice in book reviews. In any case there are generally two types of books, i.e: the "gotcha" books which try to show how Bush has made errors or done something illegal such as the Craig Unger book, or the "solution books" like Brzezinski, Soros and Chomsky.

Of all the "best seller" books on the market I would consider this present book by Brzezinski to be one if not the best books that deals with terrorism, the invasion of Iraq, and the future role of the US. Perhaps not the most exciting read (I think Unger's book takes that title) but still this is an excellent book. In this book he is very diplomatic in his comments of the current administration and he presents many well thought out ideas on how to deal with the Muslim countries, American demographics, how the world views the US etc.
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