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Friedman and Mandelbaum Disappoint
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
When world famous, Pulitzer Prize winner, globe trotting New York Times correspondent Thomas Friedman teamed up with one of America’s leading foreign policy experts, Professor Michael Mandelbaum, to author a book entitled “That used to be US: What went wrong with America – and how it can come back”, one approached the book with huge anticipation. After putting the book down, the disappointment was equally huge.
The book identifies the current weaknesses of America and offers conventional prescriptions to set things right. According to the authors the four main challenges facing America emanate from globalization, Information Technology, America’s continuing budget deficits amidst huge foreign debt, and unrestricted energy consumption.
The book acts largely as a cheerleader to revive American confidence and suggests investment in education, modernizing infrastructure, a sensible migration policy that might induct new talent in the country, enhance research, and improve regulation to protect environment and capital inflow into the country.
China’s growth would not have been possible without America tolerating a five to one adverse balance of trade with Beijing by importing mainly low tech products 80 percent of which were owned by the People’s Liberation Army that could use its profits to build its strength. No wonder former New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal in the late 1990s passionately criticized both the Democrats and the Republicans for being corrupted by Beijing to allow this. American trade policy with China for over three decades hugely boosted China’s economy, emasculated America’s manufacturing industries, increased unemployment by diverting domestic investment to cheap-labour China, and made the fat cats of American big business rich while their nation languished. Consider the current situation facing America.
America is writhing because Pakistan continues to patronize terrorists thwarting NATO in Afghanistan. America needs Pakistan for providing access to Afghanistan on the way to energy rich Central Asia. But America is helpless to act. It could attack Iraq without justification. It cannot attack Pakistan despite justification. Why?
This solution sounds pathetic. This reviewer has no doubt that America will revive in a big way and reclaim, even improve, its former position. But after viewing the level of discourse displayed in this book by two leading foreign policy experts of America, the challenge appears to be more daunting.
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