Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower

Zbigniew Brzezinski

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 offered the United States an unprecedented opportunity to exert moral and political leadership, and yet 16 years later it is reviled around the world, its chief strategic alliances have sundered, its credibility is shredded and its ability to lead virtually gone. What happened? In this spare (216 pages), elegant book, one of the country’s true wise men examines the foreign policies of the three presidents during this period: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He praises where appropriate—Bush I, for example, was masterful in convincing Russia to accept the reunification of Germany and the loss of its Eastern European colonies—while demonstrating how all three of them failed to develop a successful strategy for dealing with the new realities. He is especially harsh on Bush II, whose dogmatic Manicheanism and bellicose unilateralism, he believes, have been disastrous in the extreme. The title refers to his argument that, with the right leadership, America can again become the indispensable nation for the other countries of the world.