Shifting the Balance: Obama and the Americas

Brookings Institution Press
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In early 2009, at the start of a new administration in Washington, the Brookings Institution Press published The Obama Administration and the Americas: Agenda for Change, offering a roadmap for a fresh approach to U.S. relations with its neighbors. Now, at the midway point of that presidential administration, the editors of that insightful volume follow up with Shifting the Balance: Obama and the Americas, an authoritative and critical look at what President Obama and his team have done in regard to Latin America and the Caribbean, how they have been received in the region, and what steps should be taken in the future.
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About the author

Abraham F. Lowenthal is professor of international relations at the University of Southern California and a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. Theodore J. Piccone is a senior fellow and deputy director for Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to the Club of Madrid. Laurence Whitehead is an official fellow in politics at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford and editor of the Oxford Studies in Democratization series.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2011
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Pages
193
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ISBN
9780815705635
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / Diplomacy
Political Science / International Relations / General
Social Science / Regional Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) remains an important source of legitimacy for international action. Yet despite dramatic changes in the international system over the past forty-five years, the composition of the UNSC has remained unaltered since 1965, and there are many who question how long its legitimacy will last without additional members that reflect twenty-first century realities. There is little agreement, however, as to which countries should accede to the Security Council or even by what formula aspirants should be judged. Reform advocates frequently call for equal representation for various regions of the world, but local competitors like India and Pakistan or Mexico and Brazil are unlikely to reach a compromise solution. Moreover, the UN Charter prescribes that regional parity should be, at most, a secondary issue; the ability to advocate and defend international peace and security should, it says, be the primary concern.The United States has remained largely silent as this debate has intensified over the past decade, choosing to voice general support for expansion without committing to specifics. (President Obama's recent call for India to become a permanent member of the Security Council was a notable exception.) In this Council Special Report, 2009?2010 International Affairs Fellow Kara C. McDonald and Senior Fellow Stewart M. Patrick argue that American reticence is ultimately unwise. Rather than merely observing the discussions on this issue, they believe that the United States should take the lead. To do so, they advocate a criteria-based process that will gauge aspirant countries on a variety of measures, including political stability, the capacity and willingness to act in defense of international security, the ability to negotiate and implement sometimes unpopular agreements, and the institutional wherewithal to participate in a demanding UNSC agenda. They further recommend that this process be initiated and implemented with early and regular input from Congress; detailed advice from relevant Executive agencies as to which countries should be considered and on what basis; careful, private negotiations in aspirant capitals; and the interim use of alternate multilateral forums such as the Group of Twenty (G20) to satisfy countries' immediate demands for broader participation and to produce evidence about their willingness and ability to participate constructively in the international system.The issues facing the world in the twenty-first century--climate change, terrorism, economic development, nonproliferation, and more--will demand a great deal of the multilateral system. The United States will have little to gain from the dilution or rejection of UNSC authority. In UN Security Council Enlargement and U.S. Interests, McDonald and Patrick outline sensible reforms to protect the efficiency and utility of the existing Security Council while expanding it to incorporate new global actors. Given the growing importance of regional powers and the myriad challenges facing the international system, their report provides a strong foundation for future action.
In this New York Times bestseller, an award-winning journalist uses ten maps of crucial regions to explain the geo-political strategies of the world powers—“fans of geography, history, and politics (and maps) will be enthralled” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general. And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected to refer to a map of the place in question.

All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. In “one of the best books about geopolitics” (The Evening Standard), now updated to include 2016 geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders.

Offering “a fresh way of looking at maps” (The New York Times Book Review), Marshall explains the complex geo-political strategies that shape the globe. Why is Putin so obsessed with Crimea? Why was the US destined to become a global superpower? Why does China’s power base continue to expand? Why is Tibet destined to lose its autonomy? Why will Europe never be united? The answers are geographical. “In an ever more complex, chaotic, and interlinked world, Prisoners of Geography is a concise and useful primer on geopolitics” (Newsweek) and a critical guide to one of the major determining factors in world affairs.
A landmark work of narrative history, Paris 1919 is the first full-scale treatment of the Peace Conference in more than twenty-five years. It offers a scintillating view of those dramatic and fateful days when much of the modern world was sketched out, when countries were created—Iraq, Yugoslavia, Israel—whose troubles haunt us still.

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize • Winner of the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize • Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize

Between January and July 1919, after “the war to end all wars,” men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for the first time in history, was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who with his Fourteen Points seemed to promise to so many people the fulfillment of their dreams. Stern, intransigent, impatient when it came to security concerns and wildly idealistic in his dream of a League of Nations that would resolve all future conflict peacefully, Wilson is only one of the larger-than-life characters who fill the pages of this extraordinary book. David Lloyd George, the gregarious and wily British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam.

For six months, Paris was effectively the center of the world as the peacemakers carved up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This book brings to life the personalities, ideals, and prejudices of the men who shaped the settlement. They pushed Russia to the sidelines, alienated China, and dismissed the Arabs. They struggled with the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, and of a homeland for the Jews.

The peacemakers, so it has been said, failed dismally; above all they failed to prevent another war. Margaret MacMillan argues that they have unfairly been made the scapegoats for the mistakes of those who came later. She refutes received ideas about the path from Versailles to World War II and debunks the widely accepted notion that reparations imposed on the Germans were in large part responsible for the Second World War.

Praise for Paris 1919

“It’s easy to get into a war, but ending it is a more arduous matter. It was never more so than in 1919, at the Paris Conference. . . . This is an enthralling book: detailed, fair, unfailingly lively. Professor MacMillan has that essential quality of the historian, a narrative gift.” —Allan Massie, The Daily Telegraph (London)
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