In This Review

National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear
National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear
By David Rothkopf
PublicAffairs, 2014, 496 pp

Rothkopf’s latest book might be considered a sequel to his last book, Running the World, which examined the growing influence of the National Security Council on U.S. foreign policy. The new book focuses on the years since 2005, examining the people, bureaucratic arrangements, and policy disputes that have shaped statecraft during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. The insightful result is often critical of both presidents and their teams. Rothkopf generally affirms the view that the Bush administration was too assertive in its policies after 9/11, although he also discusses some of Bush’s now-forgotten successes, such as his handling of relations with rising powers such as Brazil and India, and notes that a more experienced and better-supported Bush compiled a much more solid diplomatic record in his second term. When Rothkopf criticizes Barack Obama, he generally faults the president for being too passive on foreign policy rather than too active. Rothkopf does credit Obama with some achievements, such as the successful hunt for Osama bin Laden and the decimation of the core al Qaeda organization, but he argues that in general the administration has failed to follow a coherent strategy for dealing with profound global upheaval.