Surprise, Security, and the American Experience

Surprise, Security, and the American Experience

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by John Lewis Gaddis
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0674018362

ISBN-13: 9780674018365

Pub. Date: 10/28/2005

Publisher: Harvard

September 11, 2001, distinguished Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis argues, was not the first time a surprise attack shattered American assumptions about national security and reshaped American grand strategy. We've been there before, and have responded each time by dramatically expanding our security responsibilities.

The pattern began in 1814, when the

Overview

September 11, 2001, distinguished Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis argues, was not the first time a surprise attack shattered American assumptions about national security and reshaped American grand strategy. We've been there before, and have responded each time by dramatically expanding our security responsibilities.

The pattern began in 1814, when the British attacked Washington, burning the White House and the Capitol. This early violation of homeland security gave rise to a strategy of unilateralism and preemption, best articulated by John Quincy Adams, aimed at maintaining strength beyond challenge throughout the North American continent. It remained in place for over a century. Only when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 did the inadequacies of this strategy become evident: as a consequence, the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt devised a new grand strategy of cooperation with allies on an intercontinental scale to defeat authoritarianism. That strategy defined the American approach throughout World War II and the Cold War.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11, Gaddis writes, made it clear that this strategy was now insufficient to ensure American security. The Bush administration has, therefore, devised a new grand strategy whose foundations lie in the nineteenth-century tradition of unilateralism, preemption, and hegemony, projected this time on a global scale. How successful it will be in the face of twenty-first-century challenges is the question that confronts us. This provocative book, informed by the experiences of the past but focused on the present and the future, is one of the first attempts by a major scholar of grand strategy and international relations to provide an answer.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674018365
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
10/28/2005
Series:
The Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Lectures on American Civilization and Government Series, #1
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
4.93(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.43(d)

Table of Contents

1. A Morning at Yale

2. The Nineteenth Century

3. The Twentieth Century

4. The Twenty-First Century

5. An Evening at Yale

Notes

Index

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Surprise, Security, and the American Experience 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gaddis puts 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq into historical perspective. He makes an interesting case that trade, media, telecommunications and the Internet have made governments and states less powerful and less important than they used to be. But his selection of historical analogies is too limited to be persuasive. When Washington D.C. was raided in 1814 we were a very different country (small, powerless, and lucky to exist at all) and our attacker, Britain, was very different from Al Queda. When Bush and Rumsfeld decided to invade Iraq I don't think they were thinking of the policies of John Quincy Adams. Except for brief nods to 'trade', Gaddis pretty much ignores economics. Oil, and not the extension of freedom and democracy, is the reason we care about Iraq and the Middle East. There are dictators as bad as Saddam all over Africa that we pay no attention to. On page 89 Gaddis says the lack of representative democracy led to terrorism. But the terrorists hate democracy - a country should not be governed by the will of the people but by the will of God (as interpreted by the most wise and most devout). In sum, Gaddis throws some interesting parallels and ideas into the fray but is a long way from providing a comprehensive analysis or a good guide to future action.