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BOOK REVIEW: How America stays No. 1
His assessment of China offers a welcome antidote to the assumptions of many that Beijing is just a few years away from surpassing America economically. China’s growth is likely to slow. Even when China gains a bigger economy, American per capita income will remain well above that of China‘s. Mr. Nye writes: “China is a long way from posing the kind of challenge to American preponderance that the Kaiser’s Germany posed when it passed Britain at the beginning of the last century.”
Nevertheless, the United States is going to find it harder “to get what it wants” in the future, especially through military action. Mr. Nye proposes a policy of “smart power” which he thinks of as a synthesis of liberalism and realism. Such an approach sounds good, but the devil remains in the details. Using “smart power” to advance stupid policies is not smart.
Indeed, President Obama appears to think that he is mixing liberalism and realism with his decision to intervene in the Libyan civil war. Already America’s next geopolitical train wreck is in sight.
Still, “The Future of Power” is a helpful primer to better understand the tools available to those formulating America’s foreign policy. They just need to remember that adopting smart policies is even more important than using smart power.
Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, is author of “Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire” (Xulon, 2006).
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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