Among other points, Holbrooke identifies the need for the next president to engage Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and China. He also advises torture be clearly renounced and prisons at Guantanamo be closed.
The most important matters according to Holbrooke are of extreme importance to the strength of the American empire. He mentions the historical fact that world powers tend to decline as a consequence of economically overextending themselves.
Holbrooke says the $475 billion a year transfer of wealth from the U.S. to Arab oil producing countries along with Venezuela constitutes a potential challenge to American interests in the decades to come. The stirring in countries like Venezuela where President Hugo Chavez is expanding his influence over South America could be the tip of the iceberg.
The most important paragraph of Holbrooke's readable treatise is this:
To restore the United States to its proper world leadership role, two areas of weakness must be repaired: the domestic economy and the United States' reputation in the world. Although the economy is usually treated as a domestic issue, reviving it is as important to the nation's long-term security as is keeping U.S. military strength unchallengeable. This will require more than a cyclical upturn; to repair the economy in the long term, a new national policy on energy and climate change will be essential—not because it is nice to be popular but because respect is a precondition for legitimate leadership and enduring influence.It is important to note being popular is not just for national back slapping but for, as Holbrooke says, “respect”. It is clear that rising powers like Russia feel compelled to challenge the weakened American president with blatant incursions in the Causcasus. Whether its Medvedev or Putin at the controls, the Kremlin's disregard for numerous cease-fires and boldface threats to Poland and Ukraine is a direct function of American futility during the Bush administration along with a posture that sought to humiliate the Russian psyche post-1991.
It was interesting that Sen. Barack Obama, last night, during his acceptance of the Democratic nomination, said he will aim to make the nation free of foreign oil dependence in 10 years. How he will do it is unclear, yet the mere acknowledgement of this problem to the security of our country is something that must become a kitchen table discussion from now on.