Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Excerpt: 'Second Chance'

Cover of 'Second Chance'

Each of the three presidents since America's victory in the Cold War has been the world's most important player in the world's most important game, and each has played in his own way. At this stage, suffice it to say that Global Leader I [George H.W. Bush] was the most experienced and diplomatically skillful but was not guided by any bold vision at a very unconventional historic moment. Global Leader II [Bill Clinton] was the brightest and most futuristic, but he lacked strategic consistency in the use of American power. Global Leader III [George W. Bush] had strong gut instincts but no knowledge of global complexities and a temperament prone to dogmatic formulations.

The box below summarizes the fundamental changes in the global environment that occurred during the first decade and a half of America's unprecedented global primacy. These events are the basis on which the performance of the first three American global leaders will be appraised in the chapters that follow. The list shows, in capsule form, both the opportunities that were within America's reach and the steps leading to the increasingly complex crisis that superpower America now confronts.


Key developments reshaping the world system.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Zbigniew Brzezinski