American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human-Rights World
There are important reasons for the distinct yet significant course adjustments in American and Western foreign policy, which is currently focused on the Middle Eastern and Chinese "hot spots." In early 2012, the United States "pivoted" to make the Far East its military and strategic first priority, thereby downgrading the Middle East. This change in priorities has been accompanied by a curtailed military budget and the end of the two-war doctrine.
Amitai Etzioni argues that pivoting towards the Far East is premature and flawed in principle. China can and should be treated for the near future as a potential partner in a changing global order, rather than contained and made into an enemy. At the same time, he argues, the true hot spots continue to be in the Middle East, albeit not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in Iran and Pakistan. Less urgent but of great importance are the ways the West deals with a complex and varied Muslim world, with political Islamic parties and social movements, and with future waves of Arab awaking. Here the distinction between security and nation building becomes essential for both normative and strategic reasons.
Etzioni expects that we will see few armed humanitarian interventions of the kind we witnessed in 2011 in Libya. To this end, he examines policies that threaten and favor the promotion of human rights. This timely book is written with Etzioni’s customary deep appreciation for important issues.
“Surveying the hardest cases in U.S. foreign policy, Etzioni presents himself as a sort of referee, clarifying the debates and identifying reasonable paths forward. In this collection, his essays on China are particularly penetrating. Etzioni sees China neither as a great threat to the Western-led global order nor as a reliable stakeholder in that order. China, he argues, is seeking to protect its national autonomy and pursue economic development, making it quite comfortable with Westphalian norms of sovereignty and suspicious of liberal interventionism. In the United States’ confrontations with radical Islamist regimes, Etzioni counsels restraint in the hope that moderation will prevail in the end. To address the fiscal and political dysfunctions of the Western postindustrial world, especially in Europe, Etzioni urges a return to the traditions of political solidarity and collective governance within liberal democracies. If there is an overarching theme in the book, it is that the American-led world order is not in upheaval, nor breaking apart into a multipolar system, but rather devolving into more distinct regional groupings. The United States will have less control over events, but no rival state is emerging to impose a new order.”
—G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs
“One need not be a political scientist, war historian or China expert to grasp this analysis. Professor of international relations and Director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at George Washington University, author of two dozen books, Etzioni writes about complex issues with ease and assurance. . . . I applaud a thoughtfully informed, stimulating, clear, wide-ranging discussion of big topics. Amitai Etzioni at 83 is still relevant, an exemplary scholar, distinguished teacher, ethically centered, and worthy o fthe honor of being among the top 100 American intellectuals.”
—E. James Liberman, Metapsychology
“Amitai Etzioni takes the reader on a tour de force of the world’s ‘hot spots’—from Asia in assessing China’s rise, to the long-term repercussions of the Arab Spring on the Middle East; from a European Union whose very future is in doubt, to the nooks and crannies of the new global disorder. He shows us why neat and quick solutions to the complex foreign policy issues of the twenty-first century—simply deploying drones, task forces, and Marshall plans—is not feasible, especially in this new age of austerity. But he goes on to lay out strategies that can manage and mitigate these challenges over the long haul. In contrast to other books in recent years prescribing remedies for international ills, which are quickly dated or overtaken by events, Etzioni provides a perspective that will remain relevant and useful for years to come.”
—Nikolas K. Gvosdev, senior editor, The National Interest; professor of national security affairs, US Naval War College
“Here is a book that tells us how to combine humanitarian values with a tough-minded approach to security issues. Etzioni is a liberal realist, and his sober and well-researched book never loses sight of the moral goals which should inform US foreign policy in a period of rapid change and increasing uncertainty. A must read, especially in a presidential election year.”
—Shlomo Avineri, professor of political science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Video discussion of the major themes of Hot Spots, and a good overview of the book's content: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlZd2Lnj1KA