What finally recommends Vali Nasr’s The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat is the very quality that often makes it jagged: the author’s willingness, as a well-positioned insider, to attack viscerally the complacent belief among Obama and his national security advisers that they have constructed a rare left-leaning presidency that is tough-minded, restrained, and above all effective on foreign, defense, and counterterrorism policy.
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