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History, as T.

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As the Vietnam War was winding down, few could have imagined how the deck chairs on the good ship America would be so re-arranged in the space of one generation. The thoroughly discredited Truman doctrine of interventionism has been re-hatched, pumped full of steroids, and sold to the American people as the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war.

Many of the same personalities who used protests against the Vietnam War as a device to decimate the entire American system David Horowitz comes immediately to mind now claim that even questioning the logic of the Iraq War is, in effect, treason. Bacevich brings the right balance of qualifications to such an analysis.

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Like many who know war first-hand and spent their young years studying the history of the use of military power, the author was a cautionary voice against the invasion of Iraq. Two parties monopolize and, as if by prior agreement, trivialize national politics.


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Running through these pages is the first overt articulation of a confrontation that has slowly been gathering steam for more than ten years. This confrontation goes to the core of the American experience. The other side is dominated by a group of theorists, most of whom have never seen the inside of a military uniform, who adhere to an essentially Trotskyite notion that America should be exporting its ideology around the world at the point of a gun.

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The nexus of this battle includes issues such as who should serve in time of war, and the conditions under which the nation should actually decide to use military force, both of which have surfaced with renewed vigor as the Iraq War lengthens. But the key focus of this debate is further in the shadows, rarely emerging in the superficial coverage of the war or the congressional hearings that usually address such surface issues as funding or the inevitable scandal of the week.

The nexus of this battle includes issues such as who should serve in time of war and the conditions under which the nation should actually decide to use military force, both of which have surfaced with renewed vigor as the Iraq War lengthens.

American Militarism

But the real focus of this debate is further in the shadows, rarely emerging in the superficial coverage of the war or the congressional hearings that usually address such surface issues as funding or the inevitable scandal of the week. His chapter on the neoconservative movement is admirable for its lack of rancor and for its analysis of the slash-and-burn political tactics this small group of influential intellectuals has brought to the national forum.

A chapter about the takeover of military strategy by academic theorists following World War II will help thinking Americans comprehend an area of national policy that is rarely discussed or debated.


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Parts of the book are uneven. While the author correctly outlines both the power of the Christian Right and its ability to provide moral cover for the continuous use of force, he mis-perceives their history and motivations by characterizing them in religious rather than ethnic terms, and thus mislabels the movement as having been anti-military in the past.

In fact this movement, unlike other Protestant sects who have indeed been anti-military, is centered in the Scots-Irish culture, which is the most pro-military ethnic group in the country.

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This group is also the most pro-Israel section of America besides the Jewish community itself, based on its own view of religious doctrine. The author holds a deeply felt, and in some cases wrongly placed, opprobrium for President Ronald Reagan. Army perspective, focusing on the ground threat in central Europe. In reality, the gravest real threat from the Soviet Union, now being replicated by an expansionist China, was from the growth of its naval forces, particularly in the tinderbox of northeast Asia.

The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War

Those who are now in power, and their intellectual patrons, will probably try to ignore this book. The rest of us should make sure to read it. James Webb served as combat Marine in Vietnam, as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and as assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy during the Regan administration.