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The American Way of War: Guided Missiles,…
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The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in…

by Eugene Jarecki

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For better or worse, it's obvious that this was written by a film-maker. For better, because he writes very clearly and has a good eye for anecdotes. For worse, because it's pretty disordered, sometimes overly polemical and other times overly credulous.

The best of all is the way he contextualizes the Bush administration's use of executive power in the prosecution of the Iraq war, picking out the most important changes in America's attitude towards its role in global matters (e.g., FDR, Truman, Ike) and showing how they come together in recent presidencies. The worst of all is his apparent belief that ethical standards can be found mainly in the wise words of Our American Forefathers, (particularly Madison and Eisenhower, neither of whom exactly qualify as robust moral exemplars) or, even more perversely, military strategists who more or less get their military strategy from the self-help books of the later twentieth century (John Boyd).

And you already know everything in the last two chapters: he goes through the Bush/Cheney/Perlites and their various turpitudes in an unenlightening, boring manner.

Jarecki admits at the end that his own understanding of some of his heroes was changed by his research, and that's all for the better. Now if only he could recognize that The Federalist Papers are no more divine than FDR, he'd really be on to something. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
This is an important book, one of a very few for a popular audience that attempts to chart the rise of the military-industrial complex and the evolution of our current political imbalance among the three branches. The book often feels clunky and padded, unfortunately. Still, it is one of a very few books out there that attempts seriously to explain how the U.S., that is, us, became a militarist imperium. Worth reading for that alone, but the final chapters, where he discusses John Yoo's arguments in favor of extraordinary presidential power and suggests some starting points for reform, are also quite thought-provoking. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Soros inspired attack on sound military policy and misunderstands the Founders. Jarecki does not deal with the failure of Obama to change the American way of war, in fact, he never deals with Obama's escalation at all. Jarecki seems to misunderstand the Western tradition of war entirely. He does not seem to be aware of Victor Davis Hanson's important works on the nature of Western warfare which was always devastating, and importantly so.

Cf. http://blogsmithconsulting.blogspot.com/2012/03/americans-war-presidents-and-911...

Limits on American Power?
http://www.librarything.com/work/5654532/edit/43172030

Or, have we not pursued national interests and power enough?
Niall Ferguson, Civilization
http://www.librarything.com/work/book/91501766
  gmicksmith | Dec 31, 2012 |
A really good, informative read. I greatly enjoyed the parts about Eisenhower. He was so right. There was quite a bit about the Bush administration, and I had never really considered how much the Bush policies were such a continuation of prior administrations. It makes one wonder what the heck the future holds..... ( )
  bermandog | Oct 24, 2010 |
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Book description
In the sobering aftermath of America's invasion of Iraq, Eugen Jarecki, creator of the award-winning documentary "Why We Fight", lauches a penetrating and revelatory inquiry into how forces within the American political, economic, and military systems have come to undermine the carefully crafted structure of our republic - upsetting its balance of powers, vastly strengthening the hand of the president in taking the nation to war, and imperiling the workings of American democracy. This is a story not of simple corruption, but of the unexpected origins of a more subtle and, in many ways, more worrisome disfiguring of our political system and society.

While in no way absolving George W. Bush and his inner circle of their accountability for misguiding the country into a disastrous war - in fact, Jarecki sheds new light on the deepest underpinnings of how and why they did so - he reveals that the forty-third president's predisposition toward war and Congress' acquiescence to his wishes must be understood as part of a longer story. This corrupting of our system was predicted by some of America's leading military and political minds.

In his now legendary 1961 farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of "the disastrous rise of misplaced power" that could result from the increasing of what he called the "military-industrial complex". Nearly two centuries earlier, another general-turned-president, George Washington, had warned that "overgrown military establishments" were antithetical to republican liberties. Today, with an exploding defense budget, millions of Americans employed in the defense sector, and more than eight hundred U.S. military bases in 130 countries, the worst fears of Washington and Eisenhower have come to pass.

Surveying a scorched landscape of America's military adventures and misadventures, Jarecki's groundbreaking account includes interviews with a "who's-who" of leading figures in the Bush administration, Congress, the military, academia, and the defense industry, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Colin Powell's former chief of staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, and long-time Pentagon reformer Franklin "Chuck" Spinney. Their insights expose the deepest roots of American war-making, revealing how the "Arsenal of Democracy" tht crucially secured American victory in WWII also unleashed the tangled web of corruption America now faces. From the republic's earliest episodes of war to the use of the atomb bomb against Japan to the passage of the 1947 National Security Act to the Cold War's creation of an elaborate system of military-industrial-congressional collusion, American democracy has drifted perilously from the intent of its founding. As Jarecki powerfully argues, only concerted action by the American people can, and must, compel the nation back on course.

"The American Way of War" is a deeply thought-provoking study of how America reached an historic crossroads and of how recent excesses of militarism and executive power may provide an opening for the direction of national priorities.
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In the sobering aftermath of America's invasion of Iraq, documentarian Jarecki launches a penetrating inquiry into how forces within the American political, economic, and military systems have come to undermine the carefully crafted structure of our republic--upsetting its balance of powers, vastly strengthening the hand of the president in taking the nation to war, and imperiling the workings of American democracy. Surveying a scorched landscape of America's military adventures and misadventures, Jarecki's account includes interviews with leading figures in the Bush administration, Congress, the military, academia, and the defense industry. Their insights expose the deepest roots of American war making. As Jarecki powerfully argues, only concerted action by the American people can, and must, compel the nation back on course.--From publisher description.… (more)

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