The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War

The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War

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by Andrew J. Bacevich, A. J. Bacevich
     
 

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In this provocative book, Andrew Bacevich warns of a dangerous dual obsession that has taken hold of Americans, both 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, Bacevich warns, invites endless war and the

Overview

In this provocative book, Andrew Bacevich warns of a dangerous dual obsession that has taken hold of Americans, both 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, Bacevich 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.

In The New American Militarism, Bacevich examines the origins and implications of this misguided enterprise. He shows how American militarism emerged as a reaction to the Vietnam War, when 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, this time coupled with a pronounced affinity for the sword. Bacevich urges Americans 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.

For this edition, Bacevich has written a new Afterword in which he considers how American militarism has changed in the past five years. He explores in particular how this ideology has functioned under Barack Obama, who ran for president on a campaign based on hope for change and for a new beginning. Despite such rhetoric, Bacevich powerfully suggests, the attitudes and arrangements giving rise to the new American militarism remain intact and inviolable as ever.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bacevich is a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam veteran, and a conservative Catholic.... He has thus earned the right to a hearing even in circles typically immune to criticism. What he writes should give them pause.... His conclusion is clear. The United States is becoming not just a militarized state but a military society: a country where armed power is the measure of national greatness, and war, or planning for war, is the exemplary (and only) common project."—Tony Judt, The New York Review of Books

"Every thoughtful American should read this book.... He has a very important story to tell and tells it well.... Bacevich's main argument...is the most powerful and compelling part of his highly original analysis.... He concludes with a chapter on what to do, which is utterly sound if politically impossible."—Chalmers Johnson, San Diego Union-Tribune

"A concise, sinewy book that looks at the emperor and concludes that indeed he has no clothes.... Bacevich makes the case calmly but with piercing clarity.... His judgments and his point of view are evenhanded and steady.... Acute and unsparing."—Andrew Day, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A valuable account of the paradoxical consequences of the U.S. effort to recover from Vietnam.... Bacevich—a Boston University professor, West Point alumnus and Vietnam veteran —demonstrates a fine grasp of past debates on military matters and an ability to relate them to today's events and personalities."—Lawrence Freedman, Washington Post Book World

"Intellectually serious. Writing very much as a Vietnam veteran, he worries that both major political parties have become too trigger-happy, too keen to dispatch troops abroad. Bacevich takes a dim view of Bush's rhetoric about freedom and argues that the United States' dependence on oil is why it is fighting in the Middle East. He thinks that what some neo-conservatives call World War IV didn't start on 9/11 but in 1980, when Jimmy Carter, having failed to persuade Americans to cut down on their use of gas, declared that any attempt by an 'outside force' to take over the Persian Gulf would be met by a US military response. Bacevich details America's inglorious history in the region to illustrate his point."—James G. Forsyth, Boston Globe

"A provocative book.... Anyone with an interest in U.S. military, diplomatic, or political history, or in civil-military relations, or in current military policy should seriously consider Bacevich's argument and proposals, and the book should be required reading for all students at the nation's staff and war colleges."—Military History

"Brilliant, abrasive, important.... The epitaph for a blindly ideological, overly militarized, and self-defeating imperialism. His bravely outspoken book will enlighten many and infuriate more than a few."—Richard J. Whalen, Across the Board

"Some of the most trenchant and original criticism of the trajectory of U.S. foreign and military policy that has surfaced since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March, 2003."—Inter Press Service

"Andrew Bacevich has become perhaps the leading critic of America's preoccupation with military power. As a former professional soldier, he writes with great understanding of the military as an institution and of the path its leaders have taken since Vietnam. Bacevich explains trenchantly how, over the past 30 years, America's political and intellectual elites have all contributed to this country's overemphasis on war, soldiers and military solutions." —James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet

"Buy this, read this, and make others do the same, but only if you are open to new perspectives. Bacevich brings a gimlet eye to an array of subjects. Here are some of the freshest observations available on contemporary American military affairs, political life and popular culture—indeed, probably too fresh and challenging for many readers, right and left." —Thomas E. Ricks, Military Correspondent, The Washington Post, and author of Making the Corps and A Soldier's Duty

"A superbly researched, articulate book that compellingly challenges the basic assumptions of the use of American military power in the turbulent years since World War II. A clarion call for reform, The New American Militarism offers a blueprint for the 21st century that should be compulsory reading for the military establishment, Congress, the White House, and for every citizen concerned with how the United States wages war."—Carlo D'Este, author of Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life and Patton: A Genius For War

"A concise, sinewy book that looks at the emperor and concludes that indeed he has no clothes.... Bacevich makes the case calmly but with piercing clarity.... His judgments and his point of view are evenhanded and steady.... Acute and unsparing."—Andrew Day, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195173383
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/01/2005
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University. A graduate of West Point and a Vietnam Veteran, he has a doctorate in history from Princeton and was a Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He is the author of several books, including Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, and the New York Times best-seller The Limits of Power.

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New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an important book that should be read by concerned citizens from across the politcal spectrum. Bacevich's title might throw off those who aren't aware of his impeccable conservative credentials. His thoughtful approach leaves him with little time for the pieties or bumper-sticker slogans of the Left or Right. The book traces the changes in the status and use of American military power from Vietnam to the present. The warning of the growing divide between the military and the civilian worlds is well documented here. Bacevich ends his work with ten suggestions on how to repair this gap, some of which have zero chance of being implemented (abolish the service academies?) while others are more realistic (tie federal college loans to national service). If you are a Marxist who sees the blood-stained hand of capital as the root of all that is wrong with Americam, don't buy this book. If you are a bible-thumping evangelical who thinks America has a divine mission to rid the world of evil, don't buy this book. If you want to read a thoughtful and cogent analysis of the rise of and fetishism surrounding the American military, please read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an extremely important book about the threat posed to American democracy by a growing militarism in the United States. It is insightful, beautifully written, and each page is filled with courage and passion. Militarism is one of the most disturbing fundamentalisms, along with a growing religious and market-based variety, in the United States. What The New American Militarism does very successfully is to not only alert us to the dangers it poses to American democracy but it also provides a brilliant analysis of its many different intrusions into policy, culture, and everyday life. Buy two copies and do democracy a favor by giving one to a friend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book by a politically moderate author. Our foriegn policy has been captured by the neoconservatives, Evangelical Christians and a hard core group of miltary intellectuals. The author describes this phenomenon with a clear eye and without disparaging anyone. The Congress must do a better job of oversight and the president must be held accountable for going beyond the national defense requirements of the Constitution
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bacevich writes a book about the increased militarism of the USA in furthering its objective of imposing its values on the rest of the world as the only true way, divinely inspired. There is nothing about the role of the military-industrial complex in all this. Can he truly believe that Lockheed, Boeing, GE, etc., etc., etc., and their lobbyists have nothing to do with the outrageous, wasteful, and excessive spending our government commits to our military machine? Bacevich goes on and on about ideology, neoconservatives, a swashbuckling president, but makes no mention about the money. Our economy would be a disaster without all our defense spending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bacevich understands that the problem is not how to deal with terrorism but how to deal with the hubris, laden with catastrophe, that America is God's instrument for bringing history to its predetermined destination. Being assigned such an exalted role creates the delusion that America's virtue is unquestionable. Civial officials, having no military knowledge or experience, in the White House deceive themselves that they can export American style free enterprise and democracy at the point of a gun. As in the Vietnam diasater, the 'armchair' leaders in the White House ignore the lessons of the past.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bacevich, West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, and soldier for 23 years, contributor to conservative magazines such as Nation -- judging by his track record, true blue conservative. He is an expert on U.S. military strategy and a professor at Boston University. He describes how civilian strategists ¿ especially Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz ¿ not military leaders, transformed a strategy of deterrence that regarded war as a last resort into a strategy of naked aggression. The resulting 'marriage of a militaristic cast of mind with utopian ends' has 'committed the United States to waging an open-ended war on a global scale.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
After listening to Bacevich on an NPR interview, I was willing to give this book a chance. Although Bacevich has an impressive military resume, it turns out that NPR had him on for a reason...he is just another irrational liberal who takes his talking points from Dan Rather. In Chapter 5 he reveals his hatred for Christians, the State of Israel and traditional values. In the final chapter he recommends eliminating US Military Acadamies and replacing them with a kind of Hillary Clinton approved ROTC and spending more money on foreign aid. Just be thankful this guy teaches at Boston University and not at West Point.