Rutgers historian Gardner (Pay Any Price: Lyndon Johnson and the Wars for Vietnam) makes a convincing case for the parallel between the Vietnam and Iraq wars. The cold war American policy of containment, rather than military force, to discourage Soviet aggression seemed cowardly to early neoconservatives convinced that America should actively seek to defeat communism and replace it with free-market democracy. Gardner names Walt Rostow, Lyndon Johnson's national security adviser, as father of this theory of "creative destruction," which he believed justified America's war against Communist forces in Vietnam. Rostow's eloquent exhortations to persist in a failing war foreshadow those of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on "staying the course" in Iraq. When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, neocons turned to the Middle East, although Iran was initially the major villain. The first President Bush refused to occupy Iraq after the Gulf War, but Gardner points out that by demonizing Saddam Hussein as a Hitlerian monster secretly building nuclear weapons, he provided justification for the second President Bush's 2003 invasion. This well-argued study gives a sharp historical and intellectual framework for understanding the current Iraq war. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Long Road to Baghdad: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East, from the Vietnam War to the Presentby Lloyd C. Gardner
In this stunning new narrative of the road to America’s “new longest war,” one of the nation’s premier diplomatic historians excavates the deep historical roots of the U.S. misadventure in Iraq. Lloyd Gardner’s sweeping and authoritative narrative places the Iraq War in the context of U.S. foreign policy since Vietnam, casting the… See more details below
In this stunning new narrative of the road to America’s “new longest war,” one of the nation’s premier diplomatic historians excavates the deep historical roots of the U.S. misadventure in Iraq. Lloyd Gardner’s sweeping and authoritative narrative places the Iraq War in the context of U.S. foreign policy since Vietnam, casting the conflict as a chapter in a much broader story—in sharp contrast to the host of recent accounts, which focus almost exclusively on the decisions (and deceptions) in the months leading up to the invasion.
Above all, Gardner illuminates a vital historical thread connecting Walt Whitman Rostow’s defense of U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s renewed attempts to project American power into the “arc of crisis” (with Iran at its center), and, in the aftermath of the Cold War, the efforts of two Bush administrations, in separate Iraq wars, to establish a “landing zone” in that critically important region.
Far more disturbing than a reckless adventure inspired by conservative ideologues or a simple conspiracy to secure oil (though both ingredients were present in powerful doses), Gardner’s account explains the Iraq War as the necessary outcome of a half-century of doomed U.S. policies. The Long Road to Baghdad is essential reading, with sobering implications for a positive resolution of the present quagmire.
In this meticulously detailed analysis, Gardner (Research Professor of History, Rutgers Univ.; Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam) finds the seeds of the second Gulf War in two festering national security wounds from the 1970s: Vietnam and the Iranian Revolution. The Shah's fall cost America a reliable ally (in Gardner's lexicon, a "landing zone") in the region and left a sworn enemy astride the world's second-richest oil reserves. Iraq, with its own vast reserves as well as its own baggage, became America's sometime ally and strategic counterweight to Iran. For neoconservatives (who began demanding regime change in Iraq immediately after the first Gulf War), Iraq would also be the antidote to Vietnam: "a test to see if Americans had the stomach to prevail over its enemy." The depiction of an America with something to prove and something to protect (access to oil) informs Gardner's nuanced exploration of the shifting justifications for the war; the turn away from al-Qaeda, toward Iraq; and the march, led by Vice President Cheney, toward a more imperial presidency. President Bush says only history can judge this war; in this deeply sourced and essential volume, history is none too pleased. Recommended for all libraries.
Elliott Sparkman Walker
- New Press, The
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- 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)
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