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Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025 Hardcover – September 15, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The only problem with President Bush's axis of evil label is that it doesn't extend far enough, argues Palmer, in this primer to promoting democracy around the world. Palmer outlines an arc of dictators, running west from North Korea to China, Syria and Algeria and then south to Angola. Palmer (who accepts a tripartite division of the world into free, partly free and not free countries) has little stomach for either diplomatic efforts in the name of realpolitik, which he believes pacifies dictators, or widespread boycotts, which he believes punish entire nations for the misdeeds of a few in government. Palmer, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary when communism collapsed more than a decade ago, builds on his experiences there to provide a list of what government, diplomats, nongovernmental organizations and the media can do to unseat dictators. He supports a broad-based approach, including a corporate fund to supply prodemocracy groups, a U.N. center to promote democracy, and a focus on the Middle East and China. He's also not shy about promoting U.S. military involvement, both covert and otherwise, if necessary. But Palmer avoids the vexing issues, such as whether U.S. involvement has always been wielded judiciously and why so much of the world resents American power. As a result, while action-oriented American patriots will find a lot to like in this book, others-no matter what their political stripe-may find it simplistic.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Ambassador Palmer is 'Mr. Human Rights.' This can be the Age of Democracy if we heed the lessons of his book. (Max Kampelman, foreign policy advisor to three U. S. Presidents)

Open societies provide only the basis for a more peaceful, prosperous world. Mark Palmer is at the cutting edge of change in the right direction. (George Soros, investor and philanthropist)

Mark Palmer's vision of a 100% democratic world is bold and important. I urge anyone interested in supporting the struggle of Chinese, Arab, African, and Cuban democrats to read this book! (Bill Richardson, former Secretary of Energy, ambassador to the United Nations, congressman, and now Governor of New Mexico)

During and after the three world wars (two hot, one cold) of the twentieth century we and our allies have freed much of the world. Mark Palmer shows us how to finish the job. Bravo. (R. James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA; Chairman, Woolsey Partners LLC)

I watched Ambassador Palmer in action in Budapest as he helped galvanize and even march with Hungarian democrats. I recommend his book to my colleagues in the Congress and in democratic parliaments around the world. (Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader and highest ranking woman in the history of the U. S. Congress)

Ambassador Mark Palmer's democracy manifesto is a radical blueprint for democratic change everywhere dictators oppress their people, and an impassioned call for a foreign policy true to America's founding principles. (Senator John McCain)

Mark Palmer's prescription for the "End of Dicatatorships" is a fundamental contribution to the debate about the world's future. He has extensively researched what works in dumping dictators peacefully, looked at each of the remaining rogue regimes and developed a new foreign policy paradigm. (Professor Francis Fukuyama, Johns Hopkins University, author of "The End of History and the Last Man.")

The only problem with President Bush's axis of evil label is that it doesn't extend far enough, argues Palmer, in this primer to promoting democracy around the world. Palmer, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary when communism collapsed more than a decade ago, builds on his experience there to provide a list of what government, diplomats, non-governmental organizations and the media can do to unseat dictators. (Publishers Weekly)

This work offers a welcome alternative to some of the mailed-fist policies of today. (Library Journal)

One of the best but least noticed books among all tomes addressing the quest for peace in the post-September 11 era. . . . An invaluable foreign policy guide. (The Wall Street Journal)

Palmer makes an excellent case that the spirit is strong and that it must be sustained with international help. (The World Today)

If the United States under George W. Bush (or his successors) is to be an affective agitator for democracy worldwide, then Mark Palmer's Breaking the Real Axis of Evil must become required reading for U.S. diplomats-in-training at the Foreign Service Institute, and ought to be read at think tanks, universities, and national-security establishments throughout the democratic world. (The Journal Of Democracy)

Palmer, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, argues that global peace cannot be achieved until democracies replace the world's last remaining dictators. (Bi-Monthly)

Palmer provides a practical handbook for how to put into effect a pro-democratic foreign policy for a U.S. government that is so minded. (Middle East Quarterly)

...should be required reading for every member of Congress and recommended for every citizen (Tammy Drennan Chattanooga Times Free Press)

...a wonderful book―a moral and intellectual tour de force. (Book Review Digest)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (September 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742532542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742532540
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,060,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAME on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add links and new comment,

New Comment: In my view, this is the single most important work of the century with respect to American moral diplomacy. I note with concern that under Bush-Cheney "Failed States" have increased from 75 in 2005 to 177 in 2007. We've lost our mind, and our morals, as a Nation.

Ambassador Mark Palmer puts to rest all those generally unfair stereotypes of Foreign Service Officers as "cookie pushing" softies who fall in love with their host countries and blame America for any flaws in the bi-lateral relationship. With this book he provides an inspiring model for precisely what every Foreign Service Officer should aspire: to understand, to articulate, and then to implement very great goals that serve democracy and help extend the bounty of the American way of life--moral capitalism and shared wealth--to every corner of the world.

This is a detailed and practical book, not just visionary. It is useful and inspiring, not just a personal view. It is also a damning indictment of fifty years of US White House and Congressional politics, where in the name of anti-communism and cheap oil America--regardless of which party has been in power, has been willing to consort with the most despotic, ruthless, murderous regimes in the history of mankind. Still alive today and still very much "friends" of the U.S. Government are dictators that think nothing of murdering millions.

There has been some improvement, offset by an increase in partly free countries. From 69 countries not free at all in 1972 we now have 47. From 38 countries partly free in 1972 we now have 56, many of those remnants of the former Soviet Union.
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Format: Hardcover
By turns brilliant argument and gritty guide, this book is an inspired field treatise on the Whys and Hows of replacing tyranny with democracy -- the sooner the better and, where possible, without violence.
We've seen a gush of books denouncing the current Bush administration etc, but Palmer's work stands out by making scores of PRACTICAL suggestions. His case studies range from Chile to the Philippines and make a lot of sense. For instance, his suggestions on handling the sensitive issue of Falun Gong in China are not only smart, they would also be a cinch to implement.
I highly recommend this educated and accessible read for matters that affect us all.
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Format: Hardcover
Ambassador Palmer has provided the reader with a lucid, non-partisan therapeutic regime for an ailing world. War, terrorism, poverty, famine, torture, and other human rights abuses, by and large, result from the actions of about forty-five dictators who control roughly one third of the world's population. The removal of these tyrants through peaceful means and their replacement with responsible democratic governments is the most cogent approach to ending most of these abuses across the globe. Although the author strongly advocates the peaceful removal of tyrants where possible, he does acknowledge the need for military force in some instances. This is an important work and should become the cornerstone of US foreign policy for the next twenty-one years (or as long as it takes).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in 2008 when the outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan were even more uncertain than today in 2011. At the time, I wasn't really familiar with some of the NeoCon views covered by this book. (The book doesn't espouse the approach of bringing democracy to the Middle East by invasion, more by setting an example and supporting democratic movements abroad.) I found it pretty interesting reading and definitely illuminating as to viewpoints that underlay much of the Reagan and George W. Bush foreign policy. This book gave me a broader understanding of the different views on how to address problem of dictatorships abroad. It helped me to understand the different approaches that statesmen today propose for dealing with today's unrest in the Middle East. I highly recommend it.
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This book was published in 2003 with ideas for ousting 2003's 45 existing dictators by 2025. We can now compare 2013's dictators: some from 2003 are gone, some in 2013 are new, some have changed from an old dictator to a new dictator. Changes in the last 10 years were often military, with undemocratic results that Palmer predicted. Palmer was a diplomat, and gave ideas for non-military changes. Instead, Palmer wanted change by democratic movements encouraged within the country, and it looks like he was right about needing them.

On the down side, it looks like Palmer overestimated the strength of democratic movements, and underestimated tools which dictators use to suppress democratic movements. Palmer correctly noted the mineral wealth controlled by dictators, without noting the effect the same mineral wealth wealth might have on a democratic movement which ousted a dictator.

So this is an excellent book for refining current ideas on promoting freedom and democratic self-government. Palmer's ideas expected nations to go directly from dictator to self-government, and there is little evidence in 10 years that nations can make single leaps like that. Current ideas for promoting democracy still resemble Palmer's single leaps, so reading this book 10 years after publication may open eyes.

Bottom line: we can read Palmer's ideas to see what is wrong with our own ideas. As a start, we can compare Palmer's ideas, which replaced dictators in national elections, to possible ideas for self-governing city elections. We might ask ourselves if it is better to grow democracy bottom up rather than top down? While working bottom up, outsiders would need to manage the wealth of newly freed nations, in order to keep sudden power and wealth away from unprepared citizens.
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