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STATE VS. DEFENSE by Stephen Glain Kirkus Star


The Battle to Define America's Empire

by Stephen Glain

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-40841-9
Publisher: Crown

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.