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The Dispensable Nation

American Foreign Policy in Retreat

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Hardcover published by Doubleday (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
In a brilliant and revealing book destined to drive debate about the future of American power, Vali Nasr questions America’s dangerous choice to engage less and matter less in the world.

Vali Nasr, author of the groundbreaking The Shia Revival, worked closely with Hillary Clinton at the State Department on Afghan and Pakistani affairs. In The Dispensable Nation, he takes us behind the scenes to show how Secretary Clinton and her ally, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, were thwarted in their efforts to guide an ambitious policy in South Asia and the Middle East. Instead, four years of presidential leadership and billions of dollars of U.S. spending failed to advance democracy and development, producing mainly rage at the United States for its perceived indifference to the fate of the region.

After taking office in 2009, the Obama administration had an opportunity to fundamentally reshape American foreign policy, Nasr argues, but its fear of political backlash and the specter of terrorism drove it to pursue the same questionable strategies as its predecessor. Meanwhile, the true economic threats to U.S. power, China and Russia, were quietly expanding their influence in places where America has long held sway.  

Nasr makes a compelling case that behind specific flawed decisions lurked a desire by the White House to pivot away from the complex problems of the Muslim world. Drawing on his unrivaled expertise in Middle East affairs and firsthand experience in diplomacy, Nasr demonstrates why turning our backs is dangerous and, what’s more, sells short American power. The United States has secured stability, promoted prosperity, and built democracy in region after region since the end of the Second World War, he reminds us, and The Dispensable Nation offers a striking vision of what it can achieve when it reclaims its bold leadership in the world.
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In a brilliant and revealing book destined to drive debate about the future of American power, Vali Nasr questions America’s dangerous choice to engage less and matter less in the world.

Vali Nasr, author of the groundbreaking The Shia Revival, worked closely with Hillary Clinton at the State Department on Afghan and Pakistani affairs. In The Dispensable Nation, he takes us behind the scenes to show how Secretary Clinton and her ally, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, were thwarted in their efforts to guide an ambitious policy in South Asia and the Middle East. Instead, four years of presidential leadership and billions of dollars of U.S. spending failed to advance democracy and development, producing mainly rage at the United States for its perceived indifference to the fate of the region.

After taking office in 2009, the Obama administration had an opportunity to fundamentally reshape American foreign policy, Nasr argues, but its fear of political backlash and the specter of terrorism drove it to pursue the same questionable strategies as its predecessor. Meanwhile, the true economic threats to U.S. power, China and Russia, were quietly expanding their influence in places where America has long held sway.  

Nasr makes a compelling case that behind specific flawed decisions lurked a desire by the White House to pivot away from the complex problems of the Muslim world. Drawing on his unrivaled expertise in Middle East affairs and firsthand experience in diplomacy, Nasr demonstrates why turning our backs is dangerous and, what’s more, sells short American power. The United States has secured stability, promoted prosperity, and built democracy in region after region since the end of the Second World War, he reminds us, and The Dispensable Nation offers a striking vision of what it can achieve when it reclaims its bold leadership in the world.
Product Details
Hardcover (320 pages)
Published: April 16, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385536479
Other books byVali Nasr
  • Forces of Fortune

    Forces of Fortune
    The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and...
    Vali Nasr, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Shia Revival, offers a dissection of the problem the West faces with Iran and reveals how, by building strong ties to the new, pragmatic business class that is emerging in Iran, the West can pull the rug of power out from under the extremist mullahs and forge strong new alliances in the region.

    The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future

    The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future
    The New York Times bestseller: "Historically incisive, geographically broad-reaching, and brimming with illuminating anecdotes."—Max Rodenbeck, New York Review of BooksProfiled on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Iranian-born scholar Vali Nasr has become one of America's leading commentators on current events in the Middle East, admired and welcomed by both media and government for his "concise and coherent" analysis (Wall Street Journal). In this "smart, clear and timely" book (Washington Post), Nasr brilliantly dissects the political and theological antagonisms within Islam. He provides a unique and objective understanding of the 1,400-year bitter struggle between Shias and Sunnis, and sheds crucial light on its modern-day consequences—from the nuclear posturing of Iran's President Ahmadinejad to the recent U.S.-enabled shift toward Shia power in Iraq and Hezbollah's continued dominance in Lebanon. The paperback edition features a new foreword for 2007.

    The Rise of Islamic Capitalism

    The Rise of Islamic Capitalism
    Why the New Muslim Middle Class Is the Key to...
    Leading authority on the Islamic world and influential advisor to the Obama administration Vali Nasr shows that the West’s best hope of winning the battle against Islamic extremists is to foster the growth of a vibrant new Muslim middle class. This flourishing of Muslim bourgeoisie is reshaping the mind-set, politics, and even the religious values of Muslims in much the same way the Western bourgeoisie lead the capitalist and democratic revolution in Europe. Whereas extremism has grown out of the dismal economic failures of the authoritarian Islamic regimes, Nasr explains, the wealth and aspirations of this Islamic “critical middle” put them squarely at odds with extremism. They have ushered in remarkable transformations already in Dubai, Turkey, and Indonesia, and they are the key to tipping the balance in both Iran and Pakistan. As he writes “the great battle for the soul of the Muslim world will be fought not over religion but over market capitalism.”

    Can the World Tolerate an Iran with Nuclear Weapons?

    Can the World Tolerate an Iran with Nuclear Weapons?
    The Munk Debate on Iran
    In this edition of the Munk Debates, four of the world’s leading thinkers square off to debate one of the most important geopolitical issues of the time: are Iran’s nuclear ambitions a global threat? The Munk Debates are Canada’s premier public policy event. Held semi-annually, the debates provide leading thinkers with a global forum to discuss the major public policy issues facing the world and Canada. Each event takes place in Toronto in front of a live audience, and the proceedings are covered by domestic and international media. Participants in recent Munk Debates include Tony Blair, John Bolton, Niall Ferguson, Rick Hillier, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Holbrooke, Henry Kissinger, Charles Krauthammer, Paul Krugman, Stephen Lewis, Dambisa Moyo, Samantha Power, Lawrence Summers, and Fareed Zakaria. The Munk Debates are a project of the Aurea Foundation, a charitable organization established in 2006 by philanthropists Peter and Melanie Munk to promote public policy research and discussion. For more information visit www.munkdebates.com.

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