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The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons, from Nixon to Obama [NOOK Book]


In this groundbreaking book, renowned investigative writers Len Colodny and Tom Shachtman chronicle the little-understood evolution of the neoconservative movement—from its birth as a rogue insurgency in the Nixon White House through its ascent to full and controversial control of America's foreign policy in the Bush years, to its repudiation with the election of Barack Obama in 2008. In eye-opening detail, The Forty Years War documents the neocons' four-decade campaign to seize the reins of American foreign ...

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The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons, from Nixon to Obama

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In this groundbreaking book, renowned investigative writers Len Colodny and Tom Shachtman chronicle the little-understood evolution of the neoconservative movement—from its birth as a rogue insurgency in the Nixon White House through its ascent to full and controversial control of America's foreign policy in the Bush years, to its repudiation with the election of Barack Obama in 2008. In eye-opening detail, The Forty Years War documents the neocons' four-decade campaign to seize the reins of American foreign policy: the undermining of Richard Nixon's outreach to the Communist bloc nations; the success at halting détente during the Ford and Carter years; the uneasy but effectual alliance with Ronald Reagan; and the determined, and ultimately successful, campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein—no matter the cost.

Drawing upon recently declassified documents, hundreds of hours of interviews, and long-obscured White House tapes, The Forty Years War delves into the political and intellectual development of some of the most fascinating political figures of the last four decades. It describes the complex, three-way relationship of Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and Alexander Haig, and unravels the actions of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz over the course of seven presidencies. And it reveals the role of the mysterious Pentagon official Fritz Kraemer, a monocle-wearing German expatriate whose unshakable faith in military power, distrust of diplomacy, moralistic faith in American goodness, and warnings against "provocative weakness" made him the hidden geopolitical godfather of the neocon movement. The authors' insights into Kraemer's influence on protégés such as Kissinger and Haig—and later on Rumsfeld and the neocons—will change the public understanding of the conduct of government in our time.

Both a work of courageous journalistic investigation and a revisionist history of U.S. foreign policy, The Forty Years War is a must-read for anyone interested in America's standing in the world—yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Neoconservative ideologues battle pragmatists by fair means and foul in this scattershot history of American foreign policy. Colodny (Silent Coup) and Schachtman (Decade) hang their study on the figure of Fritz Kraemer, an obscure Pentagon analyst, whose championing of a militarized, moralistic foreign policy allegedly inspired two generations of neoconservatives. The book’s first half follows the departure of Richard Nixon and erstwhile Kraemer-ite Henry Kissinger from conservative orthodoxy in seeking a rapprochement with Communist powers. In a voluminous rehash of Watergate, the authors insinuate that White House chief of staff and Kraemer protégé Alexander Haig, abetted by reporter Bob Woodward (a sinister “mouthpiece”), undermined the Nixon presidency for this apostasy. The second half treats ensuing decades as a seesaw struggle in which neocon policy makers’ adventurism, from the Iran-Contra affair to the Iraq War, periodically self-destructs and generates a realist backlash. The authors’ sharp narrative of factional infighting exhausts itself in flogging the Haig-Woodward conspiracy theory. Kraemer is an ill-chosen central character, more figurehead than intellectual godfather; his sketchily elaborated ideas shed little light on this serviceable but mundane account of the conflict between hawks and doves. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Colodny (coauthor, Silent Coup) and Shachtman (Airlift to America), two experienced investigative reporters, offer a rigorous and critical examination of the neoconservative movement and the bureaucratic, ideological battles over American foreign policy from 1969 to 2009. During this period, there was infighting, primarily in Republican administrations, between pragmatists, e.g., Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, and ideologues, e.g., Alexander Haig, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney, for the privilege of conducting foreign policy and establishing American supremacy in world affairs. Central to this account of the origins and evolution of crusading conservatives and ideologically driven theorists, such as the mysterious, influential Pentagon operative Fritz Kraemer, is a focus on the domestic and international prospects and perils of a foreign, military-driven policy that has sought to re-create the world in America's image. The authors essentially direct our attention to John Quincy Adams's advice that his country should not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. VERDICT Anyone who has read Jane Mayer's The Dark Side or Jack Goldsmith's The Terror Presidency would be well served by this captivating chronicle. Highly recommended, especially for students of U.S. foreign policy and/or presidential politics in the post-World War II era.—Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Univ., Nampa, ID
Kirkus Reviews
Chronicle of the decades-long battle between the pragmatists and the neocons for control of U.S. foreign policy. Colodny (co-author: Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, 1991) and Shachtman (Airlift to America: How Barack Obama, Sr., John F. Kennedy, Tom Mboya, and 800 East African Students Changed Their World and Ours, 2009, etc.) trace the origins of the neocons particularly to the influence of long-serving and little-known Defense Department advisor Fritz Kraemer, whose devotion to liberty, democracy, moral absolutism, belief in the efficacy of military power and skepticism of diplomacy attracted many acolytes throughout the government, most prominently Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig. Kissinger's apostasy from Kraemerite doctrine estranged him from his mentor and from a growing cadre of true believers who gathered strength under Reagan, even as they sniped at the president's doing business with Gorbachev. Sidelined under George H.W. Bush and Clinton, the neocons came roaring back under George W. Bush. With the stunningly rapid and successful invasion of Iraq in March 2003, their long-term project to reshape American foreign policy reached its apex. Five years later with the economy in a ditch, the voters-after the lingering, painful Iraq occupation, a simultaneous war in Afghanistan, the alienation of America from its allies and the refusal to deal diplomatically with enemies-abandoned the leadership of the neocons in favor of the seemingly pragmatic Barack Obama. In this readable history, the authors tell many intriguing tales, including the neocon incubator that was Scoop Jackson's senate office; the military spying on Nixon's National Security Council; Haig's maneuveringsduring Nixon's final days; the rise of Cheney and Rumsfeld under Ford and their denouement under Bush II; the neocon's shameless readopting of Reagan after his accords with Gorbachev proved successful; the controversial decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the Gulf War; and the continuing and curious role of reporter Bob Woodward in the neocon story. A well-reported, fast-paced history lesson on the eternal conflict between ideologues and policymakers and the hubris that always accompanies success.
“Absorbing…a must read….illuminating and deeply provocative….The Forty Years War is a book that deserves to have a much higher public profile as Colodny and Shachtman are marshalling new evidence to challenge conventional interpretations of late Cold War political history and foreign policy.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“[Colodny and Shachtman] tell the story from Nixon to now, and they do it in meticulous and interesting detail.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061959448
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/8/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 1,207,060
  • File size: 993 KB

Meet the Author

Len Colodny is the bestselling coauthor of Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, which spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He lives in Florida.

Tom Shachtman is the author of thirty books, including Decade of Shocks, 1963-1974; Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold; and Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish. He lives in Connecticut.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Is This the Beginning of the End of the Neocons? 1

Bk. 1 Opposing Nixon

Sect. I The Road to China

1 Nixon's Foreign Policy Dreams 13

2 The Anti-Nixon 23

3 Sending Signals 32

4 Young Men in a Hurry 48

5 "Actual or Feigned" 59

6 Cambodia and Echo 72

7 Crises Expose Fissures 84

8 Approaching the Zenith 96

Sect. II Undermining the Presidency

9 Making Allies into Enemies 107

10 "A Federal Offense of the Highest Order" 120

11 "Three out of Three, Mr. President" 132

12 A Meeting of Mind-Sets 146

13 Actions and Reactions 158

Sect. III The Haig Administration

14 Three Quick Strikes 175

15 Nullifying Nixon 193

16 Protecting the Flanks 210

17 Endgame 216

Bk. 2 The Triumph of the Neocons

Sect. IV The Post-Nixon Years

18 A Short Honeymoon 229

19 Yielding to the Right 249

20 Primary Battles 260

21 The Carter Interregnum 272

Sect. V The Reagan Evolution

22 Fits and Starts 293

23 The High Tide of Anti-Communism, and After 304

24 Not Going to Baghdad 326

25 The Post-Cold War Dilemma 345

Sect. VI Full Power

26 Neocons Versus Clinton 359

27 From Candidate to Bush 43 372

28 The Neocon Hour of Triumph 385

29 The Cheney Regency 406

30 Losing Power 417

Epilogue: Foreign Affairs and the Election of 2008 427

Acknowledgments 435

Notes and Bibliography 437

Index 469

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