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The Frugal Superpower: America's Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era Hardcover – August 10, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The Observer (UK)</I>, August 8, 2010
“Cool and concise… It isn't often that you see foreign policy, healthcare and pensions discussed in the same breath, but it makes you sit up when you do.”

Financial Times, August 8, 2010
“Mr Mandelbaum has been preaching the gospel of petrol taxes for a long time, and does so persuasively… The author is always reasonable and clear.”
Sunday Times (UK), August 8, 2010
“Mandelbaum is persuasive in defining the structural problems of the American economy, and the consequences.”
Basil & Spice, August 17, 2010
“Mandelbaum writes in... clear, easy-to-comprehend prose. I recommend The Frugal Superpower without reservation and I hope that President Barack Obama and his Cabinet and advisors and Congress will follow the sensible policies advocated by its author.”
Pajamas Media, August 13, 2010
“My friend Michael Mandelbaum has a new book out this month with the timely title and theme The Frugal Superpower. It’s also short, as if Michael were reminding us this is not a good moment to overspend on excess paper in our cash-strapped world. As an advocate of the short book in general (with some obvious exceptions), I call that a win-win.”
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, September 4, 2010
“Very timely”

Harvard Magazine
“It’s easy to be powerful (if not loved) when rich. But what happens when the chief guarantor of world security becomes less so? The author, of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, sees a more modest U.S. profile, and less imported oil.”
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, December 13, 2010
“In explaining the connection between recent domestic policy developments and U.S. foreign policy, the author provides an uncomplicated foundation for understanding the direct line between politics and economics.”
Washington Diplomat, February, 2011
“The book, released in August 2010, is timely not only because of lingering uncertainties surrounding the supposed economic recovery, but also because of the underlying, long-term issues it addresses. Mandelbaum makes a strong, clear case that America’s unrestrained foreign policy will crack under the weight of crippling deficits — fueled by the huge costs of the financial crash and the nation’s entitlement programs.”
Modern Judaism, February, 2011
“An excellent…account of a country whose historic poverty, exacerbated by the Vietnam War, remains remarkably unchanged.”

Vingtieme Siecle
, January 20, 2011
“This concise and elegant history of ‘Commentary’ is a good introduction for those looking to understand the influence and role of the monthly in the intellectual wars of the post-WWII United States.”
Domestic Fuel, February 15, 2011
“This book offers the best case I have ever seen that oil is a major risk to American security and presents it in a way that a true politician, worried about foreign relations, cannot deny why our country needs to move to renewable energy.”

CHOICE, April 2011
“Mandelbaum presents a solid argument for a third strategy in ‘a cash-strapped era’--to reduce US oil consumption by imposing a gasoline tax…Highly recommended.”

About the Author

Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy; Director of the American Foreign Policy Program at Johns Hopkins, SAIS. He is a former faculty member at Harvard University, Columbia University and the U.S. Naval Academy; his Ph.D. in political science came from Harvard University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158648916X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586489168
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Hussain Abdul-Hussain on December 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Frugal Superpower argues that because of an "entitlement overstretch," America will not be able to conduct a foreign policy with unlimited funds, like in the past. Instead, the United States will have to become more selective in its overseas operations.

In this easy-to-read entertaining book of political economy, Mandelbaum skillfully sketches the most probable scenario, post-American superpower. Before doing so, he traces the modern history of the American power.
Mandelbaum argues that the Cold War forced America to construct a network with world reach to counter Soviet power. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, the US did not scale back its power and rather maintained its expensive and powerful reach.

The author also argues that the globally unmatched American excess power might have lured America's presidents, Clinton and Bush, and made them commit foreign policy errors. He writes that after the Cold War, America fought more wars than it had during the Cold War. While the last of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq showed America's unmatched military superiority, these two wars - coupled with incompetent post war planning and occupation - are still taking their toll on the nation's finances and world standing.

Mandelbaum writes about an inevitable American spending overstretch that will force Washington to make hard choices. To meet the expenses of the entitlements of its aging and retiring population, the United States will most probably cut expenditures in other areas, mainly overseas.

While America's inevitable economic hardships are a valid point, Mandelbaum's reasons might not be enough to explain them. True the "entitlement overstretch" will burden the US economy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The economic and military power of the United States will diminish due to less consumption of market products and less available spending, primarily because of other demands, like Medicare, Social Security and other priorities. To the author, this is not a good result. He argues that the US properly acted as the world's policeman since the end of WWII, but that it can no longer afford to do so. He states, in general terms, that the US did so out of the best and most altruistic of motives, and generally ignores the covert activities of the CIA and US in Central and South America and elsewhere, as well as Vietnam and other major involvements that involved one consideration, the perceived interest of the US. There is no reference to the possibility that being unable to undertake the long wars of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan will be beneficial to both the US and the world. There is no explanation of why Japan, South Korea, Germany, Spain and other countries can not maintain their own defense and protect their own interests. He suggests that the world will miss our dominance and provision of "governance to the rest of the world." The "blunder" of Iraq was the execution of our occupation, not the "preventative" invasion itself. He is critical of the growing intolerance for state building, such as in Afghanistan. His analogy to the Peltzman Effect is bizarre. He notes a lesser US may require more cooperation among allies, presumably missing the unilateralism W used for Iraq. His strongest point is that the US could stabilize the Middle East by non-military action, simply by raising its fuel tax to reduce consumption. This, he argues, would reduce the power of Iran and help stabilize the area. Imagine, the US can still lead and influence matters by diplomacy and other non-military actions.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Mandelbaum examines the U.S. role in foreign affairs after the financial crisis of 2008. He clearly outlines that the effect of the aging U.S. population and the growth of domestic entitlements will impact our foreign policy. He expects that the growth of our debt and entitlement programs will inhibit the vigor of our foreign policy. In support of this, he cites a speech by President Obama at West Point on December 1, 2009, that cited economic constraints limiting U.S. military involvement abroad.

In Dr. Mandelbaum's first chapter, he examines the effect of U.S. debt, entitlement spending and inflation on foreign policy. He then looks at our demographics where we have an aging population holding beliefs in their rights to entitlement with almost religious fervor, my words, not his. The U.S. looks really sad until he looks at Japan, Europe, Russia and, soon, even China. Two short years after the book's publication and even Japanese companies are beginning to relocate much of their businesses out of the home islands; Europe's experiment with a common currency is running headlong into the costs imposed by its socialist framework, Russia is having governmental legitimacy problems created by an all-female band and China seems to be having serious internal political disputes among factions of its ruling elites. So, once again, the U.S. may have the best-looking house in a run-down neighborhood.

Dr. Mandelbaum argues that our economic constraints may be useful in that it will discourage profligate use of American power. He offers examples of unwise use of such power by the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

If you are not familiar with the history of the growth of American power, this is a good review.
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