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Surprise, Security, and the American Experience

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2006

    A High Level View with Blind Spots

    Gaddis puts 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq into historical perspective. He makes an interesting case that trade, media, telecommunications and the Internet have made governments and states less powerful and less important than they used to be. But his selection of historical analogies is too limited to be persuasive. When Washington D.C. was raided in 1814 we were a very different country (small, powerless, and lucky to exist at all) and our attacker, Britain, was very different from Al Queda. When Bush and Rumsfeld decided to invade Iraq I don't think they were thinking of the policies of John Quincy Adams. Except for brief nods to 'trade', Gaddis pretty much ignores economics. Oil, and not the extension of freedom and democracy, is the reason we care about Iraq and the Middle East. There are dictators as bad as Saddam all over Africa that we pay no attention to. On page 89 Gaddis says the lack of representative democracy led to terrorism. But the terrorists hate democracy - a country should not be governed by the will of the people but by the will of God (as interpreted by the most wise and most devout). In sum, Gaddis throws some interesting parallels and ideas into the fray but is a long way from providing a comprehensive analysis or a good guide to future action.

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