The Prosperity Agenda

What the World Wants from America—and What We Need in Return

New book from Nancy Soderberg and CAP Senior Fellow Brian Katulis outlines a strategy to revive America's position in the world and keep us safe, prosperous, and secure.

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Both presidential candidates in the 2008 presidential elections have thus far avoided debating the most important national security issues that will effect the lives of Americans in the years to come. Authors Nancy Soderberg and Brian Katulis recommend that America’s next president needs to get back to the basics that directly effect our security and prosperity at home.

In The Prosperity Agenda: What the World Wants From America and What We Need in Return, authors Nancy Soderberg and Brian Katulis contend that the best way to make America and Americans more secure and prosperous is to put a higher priority on meeting the basic needs of its own citizens and people around the world. This book lays out a blueprint for the next administration to revive America’s position in the world and keep us safe, prosperous, and secure.

The Bush administration’s approach to the world was to isolate, lecture, and threaten others in an “us versus them” global strategy that ended up crippling America’s leadership position in the world. The Prosperity Agenda argues against this approach and recommends that when more of the worlds’ citizens see the United States assisting to improve their daily lives, then and only then will it regain its power and influence to join with us in meeting security threats and fighting terrorism.

The Prosperity Agenda points to record gas prices and the soaring food costs for Americans as problems directly tied to changes happening in the world. With America mired in a war in Iraq, leadership has been absent from the scene of many other important global issues—oil dependency, food shortages, climate change, global poverty, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Prosperity Agenda establishes that the problem began with President Bush’s central theme for making America safe called the “Freedom Agenda.” In virtually every speech given about his foreign policy, he argued that the spread of freedom and democracy would defeat the forces of terrorism and extremism. It is when the “Bush Freedom Agenda” ignored the basic needs of people and the fact that most people seek something more than just a vote in the elections. This blind faith in the ballot box as the cure-all to terrorism and extremism has backfired in some cases, putting terrorist groups like the Palestinian Hamas into power.

The Prosperity Agenda points out for the amount of what America spends in Iraq in a single day; we would be able to make Americans more secure by exhibiting to the world that we’re a force of good. When the next administration does the honorable thing by focusing on policies that broadly benefit people around the world, other countries notice, and they are more likely to be stronger allies and partners in the long run for the United States.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Making Up for Lost Time in Iraq

Chapter Two: The Centerpiece of the Battle against Terrorism

Chapter Three: Freedom Stumbles without Prosperity

Chapter Four: Energy: Leading the World Where It Needs to Go

Chapter Five: Winning the World Over by Eliminating Nuclear Weapons

Chapter Six: The Hidden Threat of Global Poverty

Chapter Seven: Globalization’s Impact on Prosperity

Conclusion Prosperity: A New Vision of American Power

About the Authors

Nancy Soderberg has served as a high-ranking White House National Security Adviser and as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She is the author of The Superpower Myth, and her commentary has appeared in publications including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the American Prospect. She has appeared on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer," "The Daily Show," "Crossfire," and many other programs.

Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where his work focuses on U.S. national security policy with an emphasis on the Middle East, Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Pakistan. At the Center, he also serves as an advisor to the Middle East Progress project. Katulis has served as a consultant to numerous U.S. government agencies, private corporations, and non-governmental organizations on projects in two dozen countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Colombia, Morocco, and Bangladesh. 

His previous experience includes work on the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department from 1999 to 2000, a graduate fellowship at the National Security Council’s Near East and South Asian Affairs Directorate in 1998, and work in the Department of Defense during his undergraduate studies. From 1995 to 1998, he lived and worked in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Egypt for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Katulis received a master’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs and a BA in History and Arab and Islamic Studies from Villanova University. In 1994 and 1995, he was a Fulbright scholar in Amman, Jordan, where he conducted research on the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Katulis has published articles in several newspapers and journals, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, and Middle East Policy, among other publications. Katulis speaks Arabic.

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 (Brian Katulis)

Brian Katulis

Former Senior Fellow