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State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America's Empire

Overview

A masterful account of how sixty years of American militarism created the Cold War, fanned decades of unnecessary conflict, helped to fuel Islamist terror, and threatens to bankrupt the country.
 
For most of the twentieth century, the sword has led before the olive branch in American foreign policy. In eye-opening fashion, State vs. Defense shows how America truly ...

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State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America's Empire

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Overview

A masterful account of how sixty years of American militarism created the Cold War, fanned decades of unnecessary conflict, helped to fuel Islamist terror, and threatens to bankrupt the country.
 
For most of the twentieth century, the sword has led before the olive branch in American foreign policy. In eye-opening fashion, State vs. Defense shows how America truly operates as a superpower and explores the constant tension between the diplomats at State and the warriors at Defense.
 
State vs. Defense characterizes all the great figures who crafted American foreign policy, from George Marshall to Robert McNamara to Henry Kissinger to Don Rumsfeld with this underlying theme: America has become increasingly imperial and militaristic.
 
Take, for example, the Pentagon, which as of 2010, acknowledged the concentration of 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees inside 909 military facilities in 46 countries and territories. The price of America’s military-base network overseas, along with the expense of its national security state at home, is enormous. The bill comes in at well over $1 trillion. That is equal to nearly 8 percent of GDP and more than 20 percent of the federal budget. (By comparison, China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea, the five countries Pentagon planners routinely trot out as conventional threats to the national well-being, have a cumulative security budget of just over $200 billion.) Quietly, gradually—and inevitably, given the weight of its colossal budget and imperial writ—the Pentagon has all but eclipsed the State Department at the center of U.S. foreign policy.
 
In the tradition of classics such as The Wise Men, The Best and the Brightest, and Legacy of Ashes, State vs. Defense explores how and why American leaders succumbed to the sirens of militarism, how the republic has been lost to an empire, and how “the military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower so famously forewarned has set us on a stark path of financial peril.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Since the early years of the Cold War, the U.S. State and Defense Departments have been locked in a bitter fight over making foreign policy—a battle in which Defense has dominated to the extent that the national security budget is now 20 percent of the total federal budget (i.e., rather than there being a greater percentage for diplomacy or foreign aid). So writes journalist Glain (Wall Street Journal; Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants: The Economic Collapse of the Arab World) in his fascinating account of the making of modern foreign policy. This is not a comprehensive Cold War history, but it skillfully investigates each presidential administration since Truman's to show how militarists—often wealthy corporation heads and elected officials—have created the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against. Readers will be familiar with many of the militarists and diplomatists who fill these pages but will likely be angered about the extent to which the former went to distort the truth about the former Soviet Union and, later, Asian and Muslim nations' strength and intentions toward the United States. VERDICT This frank and absorbing interpretation offers a well-constructed framework for viewing foreign policy; it will interest general readers, scholars, and appointed and elected officials. [See Prepub Alert, 2/21/11.]—Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Kirkus Reviews

The perils of an expanding American hegemony by military means rather than diplomacy, as skillfully tracked by an American journalist.

In this timely, pointed study, Glain (Mullahs, Merchants and Militants: The Economic Collapse of the Muslim World, 2004, etc.) challenges the efficacy and wisdom of continuing an enormous, costly U.S. defense buildup abroad in the face of the flimsiest excuse for an enemy and where statesmanship would better be served. Since after World War II, American leaders, much like republican Rome, writes the author, "realized their founders' dread by succumbing to the sirens of militarism and the costs of their rapture." During the same timer period, the hawks have held sway over national leaders. Examples include: General MacArthur's hyperbolic pronouncements of communist incursions, which neutralized the restraint preached by George Marshall; the co-opting of George Kennan's theory of containment by Dean Acheson and others in forging the Truman Doctrine; the pernicious fear-mongering of Senator Joseph McCarthy that effectively cowed the Department of State. The Soviet threat (and communist China) would keep alarmists and neoconservatives frothing at the mouth through wars in Korea and Vietnam, fed by defense contractors, RAND Corporation analysts and nuclear-bomb fears—despite ample evidence that the Soviet Union was "sclerotic" and incapable of posing a serious existential threat to the U.S. The myth of Soviet superiority was barked by the White House, swallowed by the press, cheered by the Pentagon and carried the country through the pitiful collapse of the Soviet Union. However, our "enemy deprivation syndrome" was later filled by the Islamist terrorist threat. Desert Shield and consummate generals such as Colin Powell brought the "romance with the military" to primetime. The momentum of militarization has become unstoppable, Glain writes gloomily. In crisp, authoritative writing, the author sets down some scathing portraits, from MacArthur to Rumsfeld, and in a powerful conclusion, exposes the disequilibrium between the U.S. civilian versus military resources throughout the world and the continued "appeasement" by President Obama to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A work of smoldering focus and marshaled evidence that just might have found its publishing moment.

From the Publisher
"In crisp, authoritative writing, the author sets down some scathing portraits, from MacArthur to Rumsfeld, and in a powerful conclusion, exposes the disequilibrium between the U.S. civilian versus military resources throughout the world and the continued “appeasement” by President Obama to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A work of smoldering focus and marshaled evidence."--Kirkus Reviews

"Stephen Glain has written and important and thought-provoking book on the growing militarizing of our foreign policy.  It is a hot issue that is getting a great deal of attention in Washington.  Steve has done a masterful job of researching ths subject and presenting a compelling case.  State vs. Defense is a must-read for all those developing our foreign policy and for those who are interested in this critical issue."--Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Retired)

"The United States remains committed to a mindless pursuit of military supresmacy, regardless of cost or consequences.  Stephen Glain has got the goods on the militarists who spooked and stampeded the American pople into supporting this bizarre enterprise.  His is an urgently important tale, vividly told."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

“Stephen Glain's State vs. Defense enters the battle as a battering ram at the Pentagon's gates.”--The Wall Street Journal

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307408419
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Glain has been a journalist for twenty years. He spent four years in Hong Kong writing for the local South China Morning Post before joining the Wall Street Journal in 1991 with stints in Tokyo, Seoul, and then Tel Aviv and Amman. His book Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants was named the best book of 2004 by online magazine The Globalist. His articles on U.S. foreign policy, East Asia, and the Arab world have appeared in The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Nation, the Financial Times, Gourmet, Smithsonian, Newsweek, The National, and elsewhere.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 1

1 Archetype 12

2 The Wages of Fear 31

3 Seeing Reds 51

4 Inside Job 78

5 Rogue Orientalists 96

6 Treaty-Port Yanks 117

7 War for Peace 151

8 Looking-Glass War 172

9 Madmen 198

10 Interregnum 227

11 1983 254

12 Endgame 290

13 Reformation 320

14 The Weight of Peace 347

15 Denouement 372

Conclusion 407

Notes 421

Bibliography 456

Acknowledgments 471

Index 473

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved The Content, Didn't Love The Tone

    I don't have the knowledge or the expertise to review this book on the merits or on the facts, so I'm not even going to try. For the most part, due to my world & political views, I tend to agree with every point this author is making about the disparity between the State and Defense Departments. I agree that for too long this country has let it's military define our global footprint and I think it's time for the State Department to start doing it's job again. Despite my inclination to to agree with the state purpose of the book, I'm afraid that I walked away from it with a sour taste in my mouth.


    What I did not like was the tone the author chose to take in discussing the subject. I didn't like the obvious contempt the author has for many of the people he talks about in the book, it's contempt that I may share, but I don't think it's necessarily helpful. Anyone who is coming at this book from the opposite point of view is not going to take it seriously. They are, wrongly in my opinion, going to look at this is a work of the "liberal media" and dismiss it. They won't take it seriously, something which I think this subject needs. I think the tone did a disservice to the book, one that was avoidable. I would have much preferred a book that laid out the facts, with no judgements made, in order for the reader to make up their own mind.


    I do think this is an important look at the players involved and the decisions that have been made in order for us to get to this point in our history. The State Department has been sidelined too many times for the political or financial gain of those involved in the decision making. I do think it's time that we allow the diplomatic community to take the reigns once again. I just hope that this book, despite it's flaws, gets the idea across to enough people.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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