From Publishers Weekly
Surveying the American occupation of Iraq, Tulane political science professor Fettweis maintains that the war is a lost—and utterly pointless—cause and that the only rational course for America is to accept defeat and withdraw so that the process of national recovery—marked by four distinct stages (shock and denial, anger, depression and acceptance)—can begin. Precipitous withdrawal is possible because none of the feared consequences of such an action—humanitarian disaster, regional instability or loss of U.S. credibility—is remotely likely, in Fettweis's view. Linking the debacle in Iraq to the post-WWII grand strategy of internationalism, the author argues for a return to the founding fathers' favored foreign policy of strategic restraint. Such a retreat from the world, the author claims, is virtually risk-free because today's threats are minimal, and the resulting peace dividend would be better spent at home on priorities like Hurricane Katrina recovery. Fettweis's thesis—although well-intentioned—rests on several narrowly argued assumptions: the war in Iraq is unwinnable and the national security implications [of withdrawal] will be minimal. More polemic than scholarship, this book will likely generate more heat than light. (Sept.)
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Fettweis, professor of security studies at the Naval War College, caused something of a stir in the political blogosphere in spring 2007, when he published a provocative editorial warning Americans to be prepared for divisiveness, second-guessing, and resentment in the wake of failure in Iraq. With this selection, the author expands his warning into a book-length exploration of “post-traumatic Iraq syndrome.” He devotes considerable space to fleshing out the idea that pop-psychology’s vocabulary of grief (denial, shock, anger, depression, and acceptance) can be useful in discussing the sociopolitical effects of defeat on the national psyche. Ultimately, however, Fettweis is less interested in articulating a theory of mass grief than he is in avoiding another post-Vietnam malaise. His objective is to steel his fellow citizens for the challenges ahead and to encourage them to get started on what will inevitably be a painful process. Echoing Wolfgang Schivelbusch in The Culture of Defeat (2001), Fettweis says that losing can be a good thing if it prompts candid reassessment of national priorities. --Brendan Driscoll