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An intelligent, if windy and repetitive, critique of US foreign policy and the pox it has brought upon the American people.

Terrorism is not some spontaneous morph. It has roots that go way back, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, says Kolko (Vietnam, 1997, etc.), to understand that those roots have often enough been nourished by an ad hoc, selfish American foreign policy. When it comes to economic interests and questions of credibility, the US has shown a willingness to intervene—whether by direct military action or through surrogates and proxies propped by up American money and weapons—anywhere around the globe. In a complex world, such unilateralism might find temporary military success, but the “repeated political failures only confirmed that the world had problems about which the United States could do nothing and it was to everyone’s interest that it avoid getting involved.” Kolko advocates not isolationism, but rather a coherent foreign policy that strives for political solutions and addresses such basic issues as poverty, human rights, and illiteracy. In particular, and relative to the war on terrorism, US meddling in the Middle East has been so convoluted and opportunistic—support Saddam, revile him; virtually create al-Qaeda, then seek to destroy it—is it any wonder that its people find the US a big problem? The US might as well train the terrorists themselves, which in Afghanistan we did. Kolko’s critical assessment covers the bases, and then covers them again in what could have been a pamphlet. It comes down to reaping what you sow; in this case, political hubris and folly have grown havoc.

“The United States itself is now on war’s front line—and it will remain there”—until unilateral military adventurism and skullduggery are replaced by a just, thoughtful political agenda, which, the author suggests, may be never.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-56584-758-X
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: The New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2002