09 September 2009

Zbigniew Brzezinski & Brent Scowcroft: AMERICA AND THE WORLD- CONVERSATIONS ON THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY (Moderated by David Ignatius)

Some might claim--and I don't know that I could really argue with them--that I tend to get stuck in ruts when it comes to reading material (it's unarguably true that I tend to get stuck in ruts under plenty of other circumstances, so I don't know if I'm even inclined to dispute this allegation). For a while there, I was only reading comic books; then only mid-20th century American noir; now, nonfiction books I checked out of the Free Library of Philadelphia (more on that later, by the way). To be fair, this has happened before, and I can account for it to a certain degree: it's not so much that I get stuck in a rut, as I finish a book and then, riding on the mood that it's put me in, select another book very much in the same vein to read next. It's perfectly logical, perfectly natural, but manifests itself in patterns that might appear to be all too unnatural. Anyway: the long and short of it is, I've started reading nonfiction books I found at the library (it's just down the street, now!), and can't say for certain when I'll stop. But you'll be sure to know when I do. Anyway... I must say, having read many nonfiction library books, that America and the World was particularly interesting. It's a series of conversations, moderated by Washington Post veteran reporter David Ignatius (who, it must be said, seems way out of his league [but whom is far closer to being in the right league than I would be, I'll be just as honest about that] in these discussions), between two of the late-Cold War's preeminent strategists. Former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinksi (Carter presidency...and we'll just call him Zbig from here on out) and Brent Scowcroft (George H.W. Bush [that's the first one] presidency) ostensibly approach the problems posed by Ignatius (and these problems touch on just about every continent's travails except Antarctica...and, to be honest, a fair portion of oft-forgotten Africa) from different ends of the political spectrum, but neither demonstrates the willful ignorance of fact that both major party platforms seem to generate among the political faithful. As a liberal progressive/social democrat myself, I expected to find myself agreeing with the Democrat Zbig far more than I did--but honestly, Scowcroft's arguments occasionally carried the day (largely because they're completely unreflective of the current state of diplomatic discourse in the Republican Party. More Scowcroft's, and the GOP might actually start presenting us with a legitimate alternative to wishy-washy Democratic foreign policy prescriptions). Most shocking of all, though, was how often the two alleged adversaries wound up agreeing, or dissenting in minor detail only. Simply because it's a reflection of the most thoughtful bipartisan discussion of foreign policy I've encountered in quite some time (and because it didn't devolve into the same manner of excessive parenthesization as this entry), I'm going to hand out an A for this one. Nice work, gentlemen.

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