FORTRESS AMERICA by William Greider


The American Military and the Consequences of Peace
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A journalistic look at the primary post-Soviet threat to the American military. Greider (One World, Ready or Not, 1996, etc.) thrives on saying the emperor has no clothes, and his knack for pointing out the obvious but unseen means only those who consciously avert their eyes can pretend nothing is amiss. He argues here that America’s military-industrial complex is in a state of denial about the end of the Cold War, and that “the status quo in national defense is not going to survive” unless decision-makers confront reality. Instead of the demobilization that has followed previous conflicts, military, political, and industrial leaders are acting as if current budget reductions represent a temporary squeeze rather than a new norm. Rather than give up new weapons systems the Pentagon cuts training and personnel costs, leaving the warriors and their machines “competing with each other for the money.” Rather than admit that the economy Reagan built on defense spending no longer exists and face the political pain of base closings, politicians drain the budget to keep open barely utilized facilities. Rather than rethink and retool the weapons industry, huge factories operate at a fraction of their capacity. But the contradictions between these policies and the political and financial pressures of a post—Cold War budget cannot be sustained indefinitely, and without rethinking priorities, the ability of the military itself to function will be undermined. Greider’s observation while perusing a seemingly endless line of military hardware now parked and waiting for a conflict in Europe that did not happen captures the problem: what do we do “now that a general peace is upon us? We don’t know the answer. We don’t even want to talk about it.” Perhaps this honest glimpse of an untenable situation will start a conversation. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-891620-09-6
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998


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