Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post–Cold War World

Robert M. Gates. Knopf, $29.95 (464p) ISBN 978-1-524-73188-5
The former defense secretary to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama explores foreign-policy missteps—including overreliance on defense secretaries—in this incisive treatise. Gates (Duty) deplores the overmilitarization of American foreign policy and the atrophy of the “non-military instruments” of diplomacy, propaganda, and aid. He argues that the State department, rather than the U.S. military, should have led reconstruction efforts in Iraq but lacked the resources and expertise to do so; that social media campaigns should be beefed up to stoke public discontent in Iran; and that America needs to better coordinate the sticks and carrots of economic sanctions, development assistance, and trade. He applies these themes in case studies of a few triumphs, such as Bush’s initiative to combat AIDS in Africa, and many quagmires, including failed interventions in Libya and Syria and the conundrum of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Gates participated in many of the White House situation room episodes he describes, and he’s both a sharp critic of Washington, D.C.’s policy-making bureaucracies—“multiple people trying to play the same cello at the same time”—and a shrewd analyst of the dilemmas they wrestle with. The result is a judicious yet bracingly contrarian take on military and foreign policy from the ultimate insider. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/16/2020
Release date: 06/16/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-5134-0
Paperback - 740 pages - 978-0-593-33908-4
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