Power Rules: How common sense can rescue American foreign policy by Leslie H Gelb

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The book "Power Rules" discusses: how common sense can save America's foreign policy and its status as a superpower on the international scene and the possibility of its collapse in the 21 century?
These questions are part of an ongoing intellectual and political debate which has been raging for a long time in the US universities and research centres, as well as among intellectuals, writers and people interested in the present and future of America's power and its international status.

Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council of Foreign Relations, one of the oldest American research institutions based in New York, joins this debate with full capacity in his new book about America's power. In this book, he challenges famous theories adopted by Thomas Freedman, Farid Zakaria and Joseph Nye. What, then, is inside Gelb's book named "Power Rules: how common sense could save America's foreign policy?" 

"Power Rules" is not a new book, but it is a theory which is trying to gain a foothold in contemporary American thinking. At the beginning of his book, the author declares that America is the strongest worldwide power, and will keep this status because it possesses all the potentialities that make for a dominant world power economically, politically and scientifically.

The author stresses the world need for America's leading role to solve international problems. He further comments that America's use of its multi-element power in the right manner, place and time in this very troubled world is a responsibility attached to every U.S. president, particularly Obama today.

Gelb says that the U.S. right wing were wrong when they believed that America's power lies only in its military superiority. They dealt with the rest of the world in a pre-domineering fashion based on military sabre-rattling and the dictation of orders. America's left wing was also wrong when it saw that America's strength stems from its kindness and love for others, and its ability to persuade other countries with its policies, out of submission and courtesy.

The writer believes that America's real power lies in its possession of capabilities which qualify it to lead the world without dominating it. America always needs a brilliant leader who comes up with the correct and realistic decisions, and succeeds in implementing them closely. This is how President Truman behaved when he rebuilt Germany and Japan and most of Europe. So did George Bush when he ended the "cold war without waging a war," as the writer put it. It was the same course of action taken by General David Petraeus when he succeeded in gaining the support of Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

Thomas Freedman says in his latest theories that "the world is flat". Leslie Gelb says that "Today's world is totally hierarchical and led by the United States, which is indispensable." He adds that leader America has eight major partners: China, Japan, India, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Brazil.

It is worthy to note here that the writer did not mention any Arab country among the eight major partners of America. He did not even mention the leading Arab country, Saudi Arabia, as a partner of the United States, despite the status of Riyadh regionally and globally.

The writer criticized the theory of Joseph Nye, a professor of Harvard University who preached the adoption of "soft power". Gelb says that "soft power is not a real power but a toy."  He says: "The world today lives in the American era" and it is still at this stage and did

not enter the "post-American" era as Fareed Zakaria believes.

The writer concludes by expressing his belief that America is still the most powerful country in the world, and the most capable of solving its problems. But the American administration should be adequate to the task.


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