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Will Moderates Save The Day?,
This review is from: Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy (Hardcover)Two prominent political figures profoundly influenced U.S. foreign policy since the late 1700s to early 1800s: Alexander Hamilton, George Washington's treasury secretary, and Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the U.S. For two centuries since these two, U.S. foreign policy has shifted back and forth like a pendulum between the Hamiltonian ideology of conservatives/neoconservatives, and the Jeffersonian liberal followers. Mr. Hamilton viewed a strong national economy and military as a necessity to protect U.S. interests, while Mr. Jefferson advocated promoting the American ideals of freedom and democracy abroad (p. 45 of hardcover).
According to Mr. Gelb, the power to lead derives from the power to solve problems, and for 50 years, no U.S. administration has correctly used this indispensible power that is currently on the decline. If this downward trend continues, the U.S. will be nothing more than just another great power; essentially where China is now. Mr. Gelb views this prospect as a travesty for all countries, because in such a scenario the world would be "without a leader to sustain world order and help solve international problems." (p. 278)
Mr. Gelb has an optimistic view of reversing America's diminishing power stemming from the misunderstanding and misuse of U.S. power in foreign affairs, as well as the weakening of domestic fundamentals such as the economy, infrastructure, public schools and political system. The saving grace, according to Mr. Gelb is the rise of moderates to positions of power to counter the destructive influence of "demons" on the far right and left. These moderates, of whom Mr. Gelb is a member of, have failed to strut their stuff for the past 50 years. What would compel them to fight as hard as the extremists on either ends of the political spectrum to get their voices heard? Mind you, they'd have to stay in power consistently for decades to clean up the mess Mr. Gelb asserts the "demons" have created. In a "Meet the Press" interview with the late Tim Russert, Karl Rove correctly asserted the fight for power has always been between conservatives and liberals. Everyone else just goes along for the ride. Mr. Gelb even admits that extremists drown out the voice of moderates, and fight with uncanny resolve. The reason why Muslim extremists were backed by Pakistan in Afghanistan is precisely because they fought harder than moderate Afghani commanders such as Ahmad Shah Massoud. Pakistan needed these extremists to fight their proxy war in India.
So how is Mr. Gelb's optimistic view of a moderate takeover reconciled with a history that doesn't support it? What chance does the U.S. have for retaining its long run indispensable superiority in the face of these bleak prospects? The massive government debt alone may be enough to knock us out of contention as the world leader.
Mr. Gelb correctly postulates that if the U.S. dominant power is to be restored and retained, extremists have to be marginalized. Just how this can be accomplished and the likelihood of its success remains to be seen.