Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism

Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism

by Julian E. Zelizer
     
 

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It has long been a truism that prior to George W. Bush, politics stopped at the water’s edge—that is, that partisanship had no place in national security. In Arsenal of Democracy, historian Julian E. Zelizer shows this to be demonstrably false: partisan fighting has always shaped American foreign policy and the issue of national security has always

Overview

It has long been a truism that prior to George W. Bush, politics stopped at the water’s edge—that is, that partisanship had no place in national security. In Arsenal of Democracy, historian Julian E. Zelizer shows this to be demonstrably false: partisan fighting has always shaped American foreign policy and the issue of national security has always been part of our domestic conflicts. Based on original archival findings, Arsenal of Democracy offers new insights into nearly every major national security issue since the beginning of the cold war: from FDR’s masterful management of World War II to the partisanship that scarred John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, from Ronald Reagan’s fight against Communism to George W. Bush’s controversial War on Terror. A definitive account of the complex interaction between domestic politics and foreign affairs over the last six decades, Arsenal of Democracy is essential reading for anyone interested in the politics of national security.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Despite its title, this insightful examination of the impact domestic politics has had on American foreign policy actually begins with the Spanish-American war. Zelizer (Taxing America) traces changing attitudes toward foreign engagement through WWI, including Wilson’s failed advocacy for the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, and arrives at the cold war era, his principle focus. His key themes are the competition between the Republican and Democratic parties for electoral advantage on issues related to international affairs and the expansion of executive authority that began with the Korean War in the Truman administration and continued intermittently through the George W. Bush era. The author emphasizes foreign policy throughout, devoting mere paragraphs to major domestic events like the Kennedy assassination and the contested presidential election of 2000. Zelizer’s excellent analysis concludes with charting the rise and fall of conservative internationalism from Reagan to the election of Barack Obama, advancing a consistently thoughtful, complex and balanced argument about the decisive effect domestic politics has had on the evolution of the national security state. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Wide-ranging examination of the nexus between domestic politics and foreign policy during the past 60 years. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt urged his countrymen to turn America into "the great arsenal of democracy," supplying the necessary weapons to defeat the Nazi threat. Within a year the United States fully entered World War II and subsequently devised numerous policies and institutions that abided for decades, creating a national-security state whose contours have always been shaped by domestic politics. Zelizer (History and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.; New Directions in Policy Issues, 2005, etc.) organizes his detailed survey around four themes: the ongoing battle between congress and the president for control of national-security policy; the constant jockeying between Democrats and Republicans for a national-security electoral advantage; the recurring debate about how big and powerful the national government should be; and the persistent controversy over unilateral vs. multilateral action. The author makes clear that moments of bipartisan coalition have been rare. Instead, ideological, electoral and institutional battles are the rule where the demands of a democracy and superpower status often conflict. Marching through the decades since WWII, Zelizer reminds us of episodes that have set off foreign-policy debates-the major wars, of course, but also now dimly remembered disputes over who lost China, the so-called missile gap with the Soviet Union, the rise of the military-industrial complex, the utility of detente and the wisdom of the nuclear-freeze movement. He skillfully charts the debate over various illustrative issues-defense spending, human rights abroad, first-amendmentrights at home-and his discussion of the draft, which once intimately connected the average citizen to the national-security state, is particularly fine. A timely analysis of the forces that will collide as President Obama ponders the way forward in Afghanistan. Author tour to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. Agent: Scott Moyers/The Wylie Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465020867
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
12/29/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
592
File size:
815 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Julian E. Zelizer is a Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of On Capitol Hill and Taxing America, winner of the Organization of American Historians’ Ellis Hawley Prize, as well as several edited books. He has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN.com, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, and Politico. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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