AMERICA'S WARS -- WHY? by Elinor Goettel

AMERICA'S WARS -- WHY?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

While Walton (see below) examines America's military entanglements with a definite and manageable point in mind, Goettel's answers to the question ""Why?"" are drawn largely from conventional wisdom. Thus, to prevent the revolution, ""the British should have tried to understand their subjects""; the Mexican War was ""Like the many American wars with the Indians, . . . a clash of cultures, . . . The American movement westward seemed almost a part of the natural order of things, an inevitable step in the sweeping, sometimes cruel process of civilization."" ""The clue to the (Civil) war's inevitability lay in the psychology of the Abolitionists and the corresponding psychology of a defensive, fearful South""; before World War II ""the nations of the world, including the United States, were in the position of a schoolboy confronted by a bully"" and at the inception of the Cold War ""while the United States was making mistakes, its basic goals and principles were less demonic than those of Stalinist Russia."" Wars, in short, are caused by ""injustice"" and ""extremism"" and some sort of world government is the best hope we have of averting future ones. (""Indeed, history does reveal a certain progress in solving this seemingly insoluble problem. . . . It is unthinkable, for example, that Great Britain and the United States. . . would ever make war on each other again."") To the author's credit she does include the seldom mentioned Philippine insurrection in her chronicle, but (even if you agree with some or all of the above statements) the analytic framework is just too poverty-stricken -- and too permeated by moral generalities and vague faith in historical inevitability -- to do justice to so vast a subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1972
Publisher: Messner