Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Next American Century or My Life as a Traitor

The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise

Author: Nina Hachigian

The rise of other global powers is most often posed as a sorry tale, full of threats to America's primacy, prosperity, and way of life. The potential loss of our #1 status implies a blow to our safety, economy, and prestige.

But this is a rare moment in history: none of the world's big powers is our adversaries. In The Next American Century, Nina Hachigian and Mona Sutphen show that the "pivotal powers" -- China, Europe, India, Japan, and Russia -- seek greater influence, but each has an enormous stake in the world economy and a keen desire to thwart common threats. India is a key ally in the struggle against terrorism. China's help is essential to containing pandemic disease. Russia is leading an effort to keep nuclear devices out of terrorists' hands. Japan and Europe are critical partners in tackling climate change. None of these countries is a direct military or ideological challenger. In fact, their gains largely help, rather than hurt, America's continuing prosperity, growth, and, to some extent, even its values. Will we have conflicts with these powers? Definitely. Some will be serious. But, by and large, they want what we want: a stable world and better lives for their citizens. We live in an era of opportunity, not of loss.

To take advantage of this moment, the United States must get its own house in order, making sure that American children can compete, American workers can adjust, America's military remains cutting-edge, and American diplomacy entices rather than alienates. While America must be prepared for the possibility that a hostile superpower may one day emerge, it has to be careful not to turn a distant, uncertain threat into an immediate one.Washington should welcome the pivotal powers into a vigorous international order to share the burden of solving pressing global problems of peace, climate, health, and growth.

The avenue to a truly safer and more prosperous world runs through the pivotal powers. With them, we can build a world where Americans will thrive, today and tomorrow.

Publishers Weekly

With a major shift in American foreign policy, the U.S. can step into a new leadership role in the world, argue Hachigian and Sutphen in this lucid and compelling book. Drawing on their experiences working for the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, as well as a variety of studies, public opinion polls and scholarly work, their central thesis rests on the assertion that the United States must pursue "strategic collaboration" with the "pivotal powers"-China, European Union, India, Japan and Russia. In making this recommendation, the book surveys the major threats facing the United States and the pivotal powers, the ideological tensions between the U.S. and these powers, and attitudes within the powers toward America. Unsurprisingly, given their résumés, Hachigian and Sutphen explicitly criticize the Bush administration's record. But their approach to policy is pragmatic-for example, while the authors acknowledge legitimate concerns about engaging with China, they offer convincing evidence against containment as a viable alternative. Synthesizing a vast amount of material while advancing their arguments, the authors have produced a persuasive text. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews

Two former National Security Council staffers chart a course for U.S. success in the 21st century. Playing off Henry Luce's famous phrase, Hachigian and Sutphen imagine a very different next century, in which a successful America must eschew dominance in favor of shared billing with the "pivotal powers"-Russia, India, China, Japan and the European Union-which, together with the United States, make up more than half the world's population and three-quarters of the global economy. Without wholly discounting the possibility of future armed conflict, the authors argue that in a world where all pivotal powers are dependent on free trade and global stability for economic growth, the United States should assume long-term relationships with each and explore avenues of constructive cooperation. With all powers vulnerable to the same security threats-jihadists, infectious disease, loose nukes-the United States will find safety in numbers through creative alliances. Abandoning the temptation to act unilaterally will not be easy in a country where domestic problems are too often blamed on foreign scapegoats, where Congress focuses on narrow constituent interests and where the media boils over with often uninformed opinion. Still, the authors insist, "Joe Six-Pack" is really on their side, weary of America going it alone and eager for an unprecedented level of international cooperation. Their argument, conducted in the tone of an earnest college term paper, features a conventional critique of the Bush administration's foreign policy and implicitly calls for the restoration of the Clinton/Albright/Berger perspective on world affairs. Strong American leadership, they aver, must tend first to thecountry's own domestic problems-inadequate worker protection, a broken healthcare system, crumbling infrastructure, underperforming educational institutions, etc.-and then allow the other pivotal powers a larger voice in the new world order, recognizing their legitimate desires for prestige, influence and freedom to maneuver. Hachigian and Sutphen effectively outline the benefits of this new, multipolar world even as they soft-peddle its many hazards. A useful summary of conventional Democratic Establishment foreign-policy thinking, likely to gain currency as the race for the White House heats up. Agent: Andrew Wylie/Wylie Agency



Book review: Qualit├Ątsmanagement in den Bildaufbereitungswissenschaften

My Life as a Traitor

Author: Zarah Ghahramani

At the age of twenty, an Iranian student named Zarah Ghahramani was swept off the streets of Tehran and taken to the notorious Evin prison, where criminals and political dissidents were held side by side in conditions of legendary brutality. Her crime, she asserts, was in wanting to slide back her headscarf to feel the sun on a few inches of her hair.

That modest desire led her to a political activism fueled by the fearless idealism of the young. Her parents begged her to be prudent, but even they could not have imagined the horrors she faced in prison. She underwent psychological and physical torture, hanging on to sanity by scratching messages to fellow prisoners on the latrine door. She fought despair by recalling her idyllic childhood in a sprawling and affectionate family that prized tolerance and freedom of thought. After a show trial, Ghahramani was driven deep into the desert outside Tehran, uncertain if she was to be executed or freed. There she was abandoned to begin the long walk back to reclaim herself. In prose of astonishing dignity and force, Ghahramani recounts the ways in which power seduces and deforms.

A richly textured memoir that celebrates a triumph of the individual over the state, My Life as a Traitor is an affecting addition to the literature of struggle and dissent.

The New York Times - William Grimes

With her collaborator, the Australian novelist Robert Hillman, Ms. Ghahramani writes in a spare, eloquent prose style that reflects both her child's view of the world before arriving at Evin and the pared-down perceptions of her prison experience.

The New York Times Book Review - Sarah Wildman

The details here are sharp, evocative—and angry…Ghahramani's descriptions of torture are described unsparingly.

Publishers Weekly

The second-year Iranian college student in 2001 knew "that making that speech meant trouble," but she "had no real expectation of being kidnapped in the heart of Tehran and hustled off" to the notorious Evin Prison. Eventually, the 20-year-old Ghahramani is sentenced to 30 days and a few days-and several beatings-later is dumped in a vacant countryside to make her way home. Scenes from a happy family life (crippled by the Iran-Iraq war) and a spirited adolescence (cut short by a repressive regime) alternate with the prison experiences in this multilayered account. Ghahramani, daughter of a Muslim father and Zoroastrian mother, both Kurdish, dips with brevity and grace into personal family history and public political history. Graphic and powerful as her treatment of torturous imprisonment is, Ghahramani retains an irrepressible lightness, perhaps born of knowing that "[a] sense of justice can always benefit from a complementary sense of the ridiculous." Her painfully acquired knowledge of "how easy it is to reduce a human being to the level of animal" does not keep her from "wondering if I'll ever be pretty again." Nothing, however, dilutes the bare bones prison experience. Her straightforward style, elegant in its simplicity, has resonance and appeal beyond a mere record. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

School Library Journal

The second-year Iranian college student in 2001 knew "that making that speech meant trouble," but she "had no real expectation of being kidnapped in the heart of Tehran and hustled off" to the notorious Evin Prison. Eventually, the 20-year-old Ghahramani is sentenced to 30 days and a few days-and several beatings-later is dumped in a vacant countryside to make her way home. Scenes from a happy family life (crippled by the Iran-Iraq war) and a spirited adolescence (cut short by a repressive regime) alternate with the prison experiences in this multilayered account. Ghahramani, daughter of a Muslim father and Zoroastrian mother, both Kurdish, dips with brevity and grace into personal family history and public political history. Graphic and powerful as her treatment of torturous imprisonment is, Ghahramani retains an irrepressible lightness, perhaps born of knowing that "[a] sense of justice can always benefit from a complementary sense of the ridiculous." Her painfully acquired knowledge of "how easy it is to reduce a human being to the level of animal" does not keep her from "wondering if I'll ever be pretty again." Nothing, however, dilutes the bare bones prison experience. Her straightforward style, elegant in its simplicity, has resonance and appeal beyond a mere record. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

School Library Journal

Adult/High School -Ghahramani was a 20-year-old university student in Tehran when she was arrested. In Evin prison, she was subjected to verbal, psychological, and physical abuse over a period of weeks, and then taken to a courtroom and convicted of a long list of crimes, including writing and speaking against the government and encouraging other students to cancel classes and participate in protests. Her memoir intersperses descriptions of her time in jail with reflections on her life growing up in Iran in a prosperous family that encouraged learning and political discussion. She muses on the beauty of the Farsi language and on her own teenage love of philosophy and literature. She remembers incidents from her childhood and inspiring teachers, and examines her relationships with family and friends. She ranged from defiance to despair as she underwent senseless and sadistic interrogation and torture. This compelling book is a coming-of-age story in which the author examines her beliefs and emotions while she tells of a country in turmoil.-Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews

Determinedly self-critical memoir of an Iranian student's incarceration and torture in Evin Prison. Born in 1981, two years after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, Ghahramani grew up fairly privileged in a fashionable Tehran neighborhood. Her father, a well-educated Kurdish Muslim, had been a high-ranking military officer under the shah. Her mother still practiced Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion suppressed with varying degrees of severity ever since invading Arabs imposed Islam on Persia in the seventh century. The author lived in two worlds, publicly demonstrating loyalty to the state and dutifully wearing "basic black from the head downward" in school, while at home she could wear what she liked and freely inquire into any subject. In 2001, she was seized off a street in Tehran, blindfolded and driven to the dreaded Evin Prison. Writing in English with the help of journalist Hillman, Ghahramani alternates a grim portrait of her incarceration with happy memories of her youth. She avidly read Garc'a Lorca, embraced Persian culture and the Farsi language and broke up with a young businessman who insisted she wear a chador to a friend's wedding. In jail, interrogated by a series of odious tormentors whose identity she could only guess by the sound of their voice and their smell, she was beaten with a studded belt, her hair brutally shaved off. The terrified young woman wasn't heroic enough to withstand torture; she identified her friends in photos taken by the police. Conversations through a fan grille with a crazy prisoner in the cell above her somewhat assuaged her grief and guilt at having become "a trained rat" for her jailers. Eventually, the author was dumped in a Tehransuburb and returned to her family. She now lives in Australia, but her burning passion for her language and culture remain. Ghahramani's shockingly honest recollections grimly complement Marina Nemat's account of her ordeal at Evin in the early 1980s (Prisoner of Tehran, 2007), reminding us how little has changed for women in Iran.



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