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America's Master of Strategy on Eurasian Center of Gravity,
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This review is from: The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives (Paperback)Anyone concerned with America's national security should be reading this book. The fact that it is four years old (older if one considers the intellectual gestation period), simply adds historical proof that its author is, as the Chinese have noted publicly, America's greatest strategist.
This book is written in plain English. That alone sets it apart from the next level down. This is a carefully presented essay that makes eminent sense. It deals with the most important region in the world: the troubled Eurasian land mass. Rich in resources, rife with ethnic conflict and water scarcity issues, it is surrounded by major powers with global ambitions: France and Germany to the West, Russia to the North, China to East, and Iran and Turkey to the South. A number of clearly presented maps add considerable value to the book.
With a level of calm and reason that is rare in books of this sort, Brzezinski provides an understandable yet sophisticated articulation of a real-world "grand strategy" essential to the future of America in this new century. His strategic vision honors both France and Germany as co-equal and vital elements of a new European community; shows how the larger Europe (ultimately co-equal to America) is essential to the salvation of Russia; makes the case for an American-Chinese strategic accommodation as the anchor for America's involvement in Eurasia; carefully integrates America's direct and special relations with Japan, Korea, and India as the bowl beneath China and Eurasia, and then concludes with decisive evaluations of the future importance of drawing Turkey into the European community while encouraging Iranian-Turkish collaboration and Iranian commercial and commodities channels from Eurasia out to the world. In passing, the author validates Australia's new strategy of working closely with Indonesia to resolve the latter's many ethnic issues while establishing a southern line against excessive Chinese influence in the region.
There are numerous subtle and deep insights throughout the book, from the observation that war may now be a luxury only the poorest of nations can afford, to why China should consider America its natural ally and why Russia is at risk of becoming genetically Asian instead of European within a generation or two. The author proposes a new Trans-Eurasian Security System (TESS) that engages Russia, China, Japan and America-one would assume that at some point Turkey, Iran, and the new Europe would be included. The author gores a number a sacred oxen, including those associated with the demonization of Iran (this should end) and the exaggeration of China as a global threat (it will at best be a regional super-power at the high end of Third World per capita earnings). While other poor Nations have defeated America decisively (Viet-Nam, for example), the author deliberately itemizes China's 3 million men under arms, it's 9,400 tanks and 5,224 fighters, as well as its 57 surface ships and 53 submarines, and offers his final judgment that China and America have too many common interests to permit a demonization of China to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it might if China were confronted across the board and denied its reasonable historical claim to having influence over the region that hosts the "Middle Kingdom."
A special note is in order about the importance of this book as an antidote to two viral infections now afflicting many otherwise excellent thinkers. This book is a marvelous, deeply grounded treatment of the historical constancy of strategy qua "enduring interests" and grand players-as much as one may wish to speculate about the globalization and localization of international politics, Brzezinski puts it all in a grand strategic context that is compelling in its logic as well as its understanding of the deep cultural threads that we must weave together if we are to survive one another's less enlightened machinations. Another strength of the book is its avoidance of the technophilia that has corrupted strategic thinking at the highest levels. The Revolution in Military Affairs and the "systems of systems", while well-intentioned, are both devoid of serious strategic reasoning-as Colin Gray among others have pointed out, technology is not strategy, nor does it follow that strong technology will defeat an enemy with weak technology but a stronger strategic culture and the ability to wage war by means other than force on force.
This book, together with Colin Gray's "Modern Strategy", Robert Young Pelton's "World's Most Dangerous Places", the two books by Robert Kaplan on his travels in the Eurasian region, and both Michael Klare's book on "Resource Wars" as well as Marc de Villier's book on "Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource", will make any intelligent person as conversant as they need to be with the most pressing geopolitical issues of our time. If one adds Joe Thorton's book on Pandora's Poison, David Helvarg's book on "Blue Frontier: Saving America's Living Seas", Larrie Garrett's book "Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health", and William Shawcross on "Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords, and a World of Endless Conflict", the lesser but still vital long-term issues of the environment, public health, and ethnic conflict will be fully appreciated.
Edit of 28 Sep 08: Disillusioned with the last gasp of "confront China and Russia on two fronts. Brzezinski has been put into hiding by the Obama campaign, but I doubt Obama has learned from this.
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Initial post: May 28, 2008 1:44:36 PM PDT
SUE DOLAN says:
This man is on Barack Obama's foreign policy team. The thought sends chills up my spine. His son Mark is also an Obama advisor. His daughter Mika is on Morning Joe, MSNBC. Connect the dots.
In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2008 4:23:42 AM PDT
I completely agree with your concerns. See the new book on OBAMA: The Postmodern Coup. Brzezinski has a rabid hatred of Russia and isdelusional in thinking he can block China from Africa. He has one more World War in him--electing Obama is to empower Brzezinski. Bad idea. I feel real shame at how poor our choices are.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2009 8:27:59 PM PST
Phoebus Franca says:
Well, now Obama has been elected and has taken the oath of office (error-free the second time): Where is Brzezinski? No mention of him in the policy-making positions, but is he behind the scenes? Have to admit, I didn't like him during the Carter years, either.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 3:44:54 PM PDT
Deborah J. Patrick says:
You're in the La-la Land of Conspiracy Theorists. Grow up and wise up. Brzezinski has said that he values Obama's ability to understand the nuances of foreign policy. I just finished Stategic Vision. What a magnificent book!
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 3:48:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 21, 2012 3:50:13 PM PDT
To whom are you addressing your uneducated comment? Brzezinski at least appears to be learning from his mistakes, unlike out and out war criminal Henry Kissinger. Obama is a puppet. He does not have to understand nuances, he just reads from the teleprompter.
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