Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America

The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America

4.0 4
by Robert Scheer

See All Formats & Editions

In the course of his forty-year-career as one of America's most admired journalists, Robert Scheer's work has been praised by Gore Vidal, Susan Sontag, and Joan Didion, who deems him "one of the best reporters of our time." Now, Scheer brings a lifetime of wisdom and experience to one of the most overlooked and dangerous issues of our time - the destructive influence


In the course of his forty-year-career as one of America's most admired journalists, Robert Scheer's work has been praised by Gore Vidal, Susan Sontag, and Joan Didion, who deems him "one of the best reporters of our time." Now, Scheer brings a lifetime of wisdom and experience to one of the most overlooked and dangerous issues of our time - the destructive influence of America's military-industrial complex.

Scheer examines the expansion of our military presence throughout the world, our insane nuclear strategy, the immorality of corporations profiting in Iraq, and the arrogance of our foreign policy. Although Scheer is a liberal, his view echoes that of former Republican president General Dwight Eisenhower, who, in his farewell speech to the American people, spoke prophetically about need to guard against the growing influence of the military-industrial complex. In George W. Bush's America, politicians like Ike and Richard Nixon seem like prudent centrists.

The views of libertarians, liberals, and pacifists are often overlooked or ignored by America's mainstream media. The Pornography of Power is the culmination of a respected journalist's efforts to change the terms of debate. At a time when many are exploiting fears of terrorist attacks and only a few national leaders are willing to advocate cuts in defense spending, nuclear disarmament, and restrained use of American force, Robert Scheer has written a manifesto for enlightened reform.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Veteran journalist Scheer (With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush, and Nuclear War) takes aim at America's defense policy and bloated military budget in this pugnacious and rigorously researched polemic. "Tragedy can be opportunity," Scheer writes, and 9/11 provided the defense industry with the opportunity it had long been seeking. Unable to persuade the first Bush and Clinton administrations to invest in expensive, state-of-the-art weapons, the defense industry found fresh life as the current President Bush launched his "war on terror" and military expenditures swelled to the highest level in history. Scheer argues that war cannot defeat terrorism. What's required is simple police work-dogged, boring and not terribly expensive-not trillion-dollar bombers, submarines and nuclear arsenal-expenditures he contends are unrelated to defeating terrorists and of little use in Iraq. He soberly reminds readers that Americans have never objected to wasteful defense budgets, and antiwar elected officials fight as viciously as neoconservatives to bring money to their district's defense industries. Scheer's prose is as clear as his evidence; readers will be galvanized by his incendiary account. (June 9)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
It's all Nixon's fault: If he hadn't gone to China, we wouldn't have Dubya. Longtime political journalist Scheer (Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton-and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush, 2006, etc.)-former editor of the long-defunct but much missed Ramparts magazine and proud owner of a thick FBI file-doesn't quite formulate the problem that way. Yet, as he notes, having discussed the matter with Nixon himself, the Nixonian policy of detente in the waning days of the Cold War gave the neocons of today their raison d'etre, a policy to revile and undermine. Those neocons, gathered around Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, "the hawkish Democrat in thrall to the Boeing Company," took their Cold War very seriously and, by Scheer's account, were at a loss to know what to do with themselves once the Berlin Wall fell. Many, such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, wrapped themselves in the flag of the so-called Project for a New American Century, one of whose fundamental tenets was overthrowing the regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Before 9/11, writes Scheer, they labored quietly in various Bush administration sinecures, while Donald Rumsfeld talked about streamlining the Pentagon and reducing the military budget. Afterward, they had the run of things, led and unleashed by the president and vice president, and they went on an "uncontrollable" spending spree. Scheer allows for nonpecuniary motives, but he also observes that the foreign-policy machine was run by those, "like Dick Cheney, who made a huge bundle while claiming to be primarily interested in the security of their country." Scheer mostly argues along Michael Moorishlines, stopping here and there to cite sources but generally running with an anti-administration jeremiad that seems about right-but also seems very much like preaching to the choir. For those who have donned those robes, Scheer's book will be an affirmation. Those who have not may prefer more evenhanded approaches that offer the same conclusion, such as Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier's America Between the Wars (2008). Agent: Steve Wasserman/Kneerim & Williams
The New York Times Review of Books
"This indictment of the military-industrial complex explains why any president committed to preserving our Republic must end a policy of permanent war. It is also a reminder, as is Jonathan Schell's Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, of the insanity of our nuclear strategy and the arrogance of our hypermilitarized foreign policy."
Vanity Fair
"A searing polemic."
Joan Didion
"Robert Scheer is one of the best reporters of our time."

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
File size:
284 KB

What People are Saying About This

Joan Didion
Robert Scheer is one of the best reporters of our time.

Meet the Author

Robert Scheer is currently Editor-in-Chief of Truthdig.com, 2007 Webby Award winner for best political blog.

Between 1964 and 1969 he was Vietnam correspondent, managing editor and editor in chief of Ramparts magazine. From 1976 to 1993 he served as a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, writing on diverse topics such as the Soviet Union, arms control, national politics and the military. In 1993 he launched a nationally syndicated column based at the Los Angeles Times, where he was named a contributing editor. That column ran weekly for the next 12 years and is now based at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Scheer can be heard on the political radio program "Left, Right and Center" on KCRW, the National Public Radio affiliate in Santa Monica, Calif. He has written seven books, including "With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War."
He is a contributing editor for The Nation as well as a Nation Fellow. He has also been a Poynter fellow at Yale, and was a fellow in arms control at Stanford.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We were attacked because we dont hate isreal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Scheer¿s The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America, takes as its thesis President Eisenhower¿s warning against the ¿military-industrial complex¿ on his retirement from the presidency and provides succinct analyses of how, particularly in the eight presidential years of Bush II, Eisenhower¿s worst fears have been realized. Scheer generously acknowledges that Bush, Cheney and the defense hawks may believe otherwise, but he leaves no doubt that America¿s war in Iraq, like so much of its foreign relations, is motivated not by the nation¿s defense, the spread of democracy or resistance to tyranny, but by the desire for power and profit. Scheer has documented how the close relationship between the defense industry and the Defense Department has resulted in many billions of dollars in contracts to build weapons for which there can be no rationale use in a war against terrorist forces that do not control large armies or navies. He spells out how individuals move from high positions in private weapons corporations to high positions in government that contract to buy those weapons, and then move back to higher positions, and back again to the highest government posts, making ever greater profits for the weapons makers and themselves. The Pornography of Power is a frighteningly persuasive account of their success in creating a wartime environment without end and without real war, but at a terrible cost to America¿s ability to respond to crises in economic opportunity, health care, education, and infrastructure repair, none of which can be confronted as long as literally trillions of dollars are wasted in a false pursuit of national security.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Scheer¿s powerful new book, The Pornography of Power, examines what happened after an inattentive and largely apolitical public, led by a poorly prepared, intellectually insecure, and petulant president was confronted by deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It¿s a frightening story, but it is crisply told, well researched, and convincing. After decades of incisive investigative reporting, including extensive interviews with five presidents, Scheer is unrivaled in his ability to explain the complex interactions that have created this perfect 'political' storm. As Scheer tells it, the Cold War probably began to unravel with Richard Nixon¿s policy of détente, but the definitive end had to wait until the disappearance of the Soviet enemy. Unfortunately, what was seen as an opportunity for most was perceived as a disaster by others, especially defense executives and neocon ideologues. No Cold War meant no superpower enemy and that meant the end of unlimited military spending. Then came 9/11 and, as Scheer observes, unlimited military spending was back stronger than ever. Thus the focus of the book: the unlikely and illogical linkage between terrorist attacks accomplished by hijacking commercial airliners with box- cutters and annual military spending that has exceeded that spent during the Cold War. In the aftermath of 9/11 the neocons were ready with a fully developed theory for a 21st century Pax Americana. They had a fully developed answer for whatever problems Bush saw emerging in the wake of 9/11. Scheer meticulously lays out how Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle ¿went to work on an untutored president.¿ Their agenda had clearly been laid out in the 1997 founding statement of the Project for a New American Century which, as Scheer illustrates, was to boost military spending to create a world ¿favorable to American interests.¿ At its center were plans for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Never mind that there was no connection between Hussein and al Qaeda. Scheer¿s convincing evidence demonstrates that little attempt was made, by Bush and company, to identify the nature of the problem presented by the attacks on 9/11. Instead, the President and his neocon advisors used 9/11 as justification for ¿solutions¿ that featured expensive weapons originally meant to counteract technical advances by the old Soviet Union. If you wonder why the United States continues to build the F-22 Raptor 'at $65 billion' or the F-35 joint fighter 'at $300 billion' Scheer explains in precise detail. Never mind that the terrorists have no air force. Never mind that the F-16 flys perfectly well. If you wonder why the Congress has funded new Virginia class submarines 'at $2.5 billion each' to fight terrorists who don¿t have a navy Scheer makes it distressingly clear. But the executive branch cannot spend all this money without congressional approval and, from the beginning, congress was cooperative. A critical mass of Republicans and Democrats alike are shown to be open to the influence of the likes of Lockheed, Halliburton and Boeing. Such influence, Scheer shows, does not stem from campaign contributions alone, but from the promise of jobs. It is not for nothing that the various facets of military production are spread into as many congressional districts as possible. All of this, the author concludes, is ¿proof that when it comes to the defense budget, there is bipartisan support for endless waste.¿ Gore Vidal once observed that the United States is no longer a ¿serious country.¿ What he meant is that we have become a nation with little sense of our own past and with little commitment to political discourse. What one learns from The Pornography of Power is that such apathy comes at a price. That price is an American foreign policy that has
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am one of those ordinary citizens who keeps asking that common-sense question: where are the grown-ups in government and how have they lead us to squandering the goodwill and moral leadership our country has earned in over two hundred years of foreign policy ? Robert Scheer's book answers these questions for me. I'm not a political groupie. I try to keep informed through newspapers, news magazines and talking heads on television. But each of these sources are overloaded by partisan rhetoric and/or mind-numbing detail which obscure the global forest for the idealogical trees. But the details he gives trace a clear path from our original, noble intentions to our sinking into this quicksand of war with no peace. He writes of the Farewell Addresses of two of our greatest generals turned president who cautioned fellow countrymen against the excesses of empire. George Washington spoke of the 'Impostures of patriotism' who incite foreign 'entanglements'. Dwight Eisenhower cautioned against the 'unwarranted influence' of the 'military-industrial complex'. So these warning signals were always there. I wanted to understand how we got from 'there' to 'here' without having to be a politico or wading through footnotes. And that is what his book does. It identifies the culprits: the Pentagon, multi-national corporations, the Cold War, the War on Terror , a dangerously misguided nuclear policy , and the flag pin-wearing fear mongerers-- this is where Washington's 'Imposturers of patriotism ' come in. The most crucial election of modern times is coming up. After having read this book, I will be a much more informed voter. And presidential nominees McCain and Obama should put it on their summer reading list. Scheer's clear and concise argument for rethinking our foreign policy shows a way out of our self-created bunker.