The overwhelming reality of our time is this: In the opening years of the 21st century, the United States finds itself not only the most powerful nation on earth but the most powerful nation that has ever existed. Given the contradictory roles America plays in the world, we are fated to be the catalyst for either a new global community or for global chaos. If we don’t lead, Zbigniew Brzezinski contends, rather than merely dominate by force, we could face worldwide hostility much like the regional hostility now confronting Israel. Brzezinski argues for a more complex and sophisticated view of our global role than much of our media and political leadership are willing to entertain. We are the world’s policeman, but we have to be seen as a fair one. We are entitled to a higher level of security than other nations (because we assume greater risks), but we are also the proponent of essential freedoms. We are uniquely powerful, but our homeland is uniquely -and chronically-vulnerable. “Globalization” precludes immunity for even the most powerful. This is an impressively lucid assessment, informed by decades of experience on the front lines of foreign policy, of where we stand in the world and where we should go from here.
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