The Dispensable Nation by Vali Nasr
American Foreign Policy in Retreat

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Mr. a bold conceptualizer with a flair for seeing around corners.
-WSJ online


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.

About Vali Nasr

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VALI NASR is Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the bestselling author of The Shia Revival and Forces of Fortune. From 2009 to 2011, he served as Senior Advisor to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. He is a columnist for Bloomberg View and lives in Washington, D.C.
Published April 16, 2013 by Anchor. 320 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Dispensable Nation
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Apr 18 2013

The problem with this book is that its genuinely interesting analyses are often undermined by Mr. Nasr’s certainty about matters that are subject to an incalculable number of variables...

Read Full Review of The Dispensable Nation: Ameri... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Reviewed by James Traub on Apr 19 2013

Mr. a bold conceptualizer with a flair for seeing around corners.

Read Full Review of The Dispensable Nation: Ameri... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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Rebecca Kilbane

Rebecca Kilbane 5 Sep 2013

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