The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
In this provocative book, Andrew Bacevich warns of a dangerous dual obsession that has taken hold of Americans, conservatives, and liberals alike. It is a marriage of militarism and utopian ideology--of unprecedented military might wed to a blind faith in the universality of American values. This mindset, the author warns, invites endless war and the ever-deepening militarization of U.S. policy. It promises not to perfect but to pervert American ideals and to accelerate the hollowing out of American democracy. As it alienates others, it will leave the United States increasingly isolated. It will end in bankruptcy, moral as well as economic, and in abject failure. With The New American Militarism, which has been updated with a new Afterword, Bacevich examines the origins and implications of this misguided enterprise. He shows how American militarism emerged as a reaction to the Vietnam War. Various groups in American society--soldiers, politicians on the make, intellectuals, strategists, Christian evangelicals, even purveyors of pop culture--came to see the revival of military power and the celebration of military values as the antidote to all the ills besetting the country as a consequence of Vietnam and the 1960s. The upshot, acutely evident in the aftermath of 9/11, has been a revival of vast ambitions and certainty, this time married to a pronounced affinity for the sword. Bacevich urges us to restore a sense of realism and a sense of proportion to U.S. policy. He proposes, in short, to bring American purposes and American methods--especially with regard to the role of the military--back into harmony with the nation's founding ideals.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
I picked up "The New American Militarism" because I wanted a way to navigate around the odd mixture of obsequiousness, guilt and genuine respect that I've detected around so many discussions of the American military lately. Bacevich, does, after a fashion, mention this element of civilian-military relations, but his focus is deeply historical and his analysis is very acute. The book describes, explains, and examines the changes that have taken place in the American military since Vietnam, some of which have taken place pretty much out of public view. The author covers the birth of the all-volunteer military, the enormous growth of the military budget, the compromises involved in foreign policy's determination to avoid another Vietnam, the ways that high technology has changed the military and the foreign policy establishment the birth of the neo-conservative movement, and more. The last of these is particularly useful: Bacevich, something of a lapsed conservative himself, provides a succinct history of a term that has, in the past decade, become more of an insult than a meaningful political designation and explains what sets them apart from older conservatives. He also charts the continual expansion of America's foreign policy responsibilities, particularly in the Middle East, where he considers America to be waging a decades-long, strategically vital global conflict, and and argues that these more-or-less commit Americans to a more militarized foreign policy and a more military-friendly society. Bacevich is a good writer and struck me as having a strong command of his ideas -- unsurprisingly, since he used to align himself with many of the intellectuals he criticizes here and is a former officer himself. He's also cognizant of what he presents as a series of sad ironies: how, for example, the military's understandable desire to avoid casualties may have kept it from completing foreign policy objectives, therefore setting the stage for future wars with casualties of their own, or the gigantic human costs of being seduced by the promise of a technologically advanced form of warfare. He also seems to care deeply about preserving what he sees as both the integrity of the military and the most important facets of American democracy. A book that, though it was published ten years ago, still seems necessary and important.
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Prof. Bacevich offers coherent, systematic insights into why American citizens accept every larger defense expenditures as well as wars (by any other name) that are not in defense of the nation. He also offers ten suggestions about approaches to remedying our fascination with all things military. Essential reading, I believe.
The Progressive Army: Us Army Command and Administration, 1870-1914
Ronald J. Barr
No preview available - 1998