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State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America's Empire Paperback – November 13, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"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."--Kirkus Reviews

"Stephen Glain has written and important and thought-provoking book on the growing militarizing of our foreign policy.  It is a hot issue that is getting a great deal of attention in Washington.  Steve has done a masterful job of researching ths subject and presenting a compelling case.  State vs. Defense is a must-read for all those developing our foreign policy and for those who are interested in this critical issue."--Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Retired)

"The United States remains committed to a mindless pursuit of military supresmacy, regardless of cost or consequences.  Stephen Glain has got the goods on the militarists who spooked and stampeded the American pople into supporting this bizarre enterprise.  His is an urgently important tale, vividly told."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

“Stephen Glain's State vs. Defense enters the battle as a battering ram at the Pentagon's gates.”--The Wall Street Journal

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Stephen Glain has been a journalist for twenty years. He spent four years in Hong Kong writing for the local South China Morning Post before joining the Wall Street Journal in 1991 with stints in Tokyo, Seoul, and then Tel Aviv and Amman. His book Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants was named the best book of 2004 by online magazine The Globalist. His articles on U.S. foreign policy, East Asia, and the Arab world have appeared in The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Nation, the Financial Times, Gourmet, Smithsonian, Newsweek, The National, and elsewhere. Visit his website at

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307408426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307408426
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,257,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Military Fellow, CFR on August 15, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
General Zinni's commentary is spot on! Mr. Glain's well written history provides a compelling lens with which to consider the militarization of America's foreign policy. The arrival of "State vs. Defense" could not be timelier as the nation grapples with its global role in a climate of diminishing resources. Few will agree with every dimension of this important book's implications, but the discussions the book will likely evoke after a reading are valuable in any circle. Whether a practitioner, student or observer, Mr. Glain's book is well worth a read and a readily accessible spot on one's bookshelf!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on December 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Author Glain contends that American militarism created and intensified the Cold War (purposefully inflated assessments of purported enemies, the U-2 incident, placing missiles in Turkey that were aimed at Russia, the Tonkin Gulf incident/Vietnam War), has brought needless conflict, helped bring out 9/11 (stationing troops in Saudi Arabia post Gulf War I), and Islamist terrorism, is a major contributor to government deficits, and puts the U.S. at risk of confrontation with China (stationing Marines in Australia, the EP-3 spy plane incident, supporting India's increasing its nuclear arsenal, numerous assistance pacts with Asian nations). Glain's point is well founded - however, he fails to recognize that our State Dept. too often is complicit in this militarism, needless intruding in other's affairs (eg. Secretary's Clinton and Rice, on an almost daily basis) and insulting high-ranking officials (eg. National Security Advisor Rice vs. Russia) in those nations. (Even U.S. presidents have done this, repeatedly - eg. Obama's trip to China featured 'lectures' on human rights, etc.)

As of 2010, DOD had 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees in 909 military facilities in 46 nations and territories. The cost, including Homeland Security, retirement benefits, exceeds $1 trillion/year - nearly 8% of GDP, and 5X that of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, combined. Glain also notes that most of those pushing this militarism have been legislators, civil servants, evangelists (new opportunities to redeem lost souls), American exceptionalists, and business leaders (United Fruit, Dole Pineapple) - with the obvious exceptions of Generals MacArthur and LeMay.

Increasing abilities of asymmetric warfare provide another strong reason for the U.S. to back away from militarism.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By JustPassinThru on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
On the whole, I was favorably impressed with Stephen Glain's State vs. Defense.

It frames American Cold War history in terms of the steady erosion of the power and influence of the State Department, lost to the Department of Defense and its camarilla of radical-conservative supporters, lobbyists, and dollar-patriots.

None of the information in this work is new; much of it has been more cogently expressed elsewhere by writers like David Halberstam, Joseph Trento, Kevin Phillips, and an entire generation of academic historians. However, Glain's focus on the the battle between State and Defense gives his work a sharp focus, and allows him to show his readers how and why the post-war American world-view has been consistently manipulated to support a military machine so enormous that it's warped the very democracy it was created to protect.

Conservative readers will dismiss this book as a work of advocacy masquerading as history. Having lived through most of the period discussed in this book (and having spent perhaps an inordinate amount of time reflecting and analyzing), I feel it corresponds very well to events as I experienced them.

I did find a glaring factual error that should be corrected prior to the next printing: on p. 75, the author writes, "As a political tactic, McCarthyism was a success. Truman, having been portrayed as soft on communism, was handily defeated in the 1952 election by Republican candidate Dwight Eisenhower."

Perhaps this edition fell through from an alternate universe, but in our timeline the election of 1952 was contested by Dwight Eisenhower and the Governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson. Maybe the author included this as a test to see if any of his reviewers actually read the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Van Buren on December 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Glain's new book is a brilliant, sober, sad and important biography of the Department of State since World War II. The choice of word here--biography--is significant, in that instead of a simple history of State, Glain traces its decline in old age as America's foreign policy is increasingly made and carried out by the Pentagon. This does not bode well for America. Mini review: Be afraid. The book mirrors many of the (Iraq-specific) points I make in my own work, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project).

McCarthy: Beginning of the End

Though not casual reading, the detailed text will gift the reader with a thorough history of America's overseas activities since the end of the Second World War. Told largely through tales of bureaucratic infighting between State and Defense, with Congress often coming on stage at critical moments to drive a dagger into State's corps(e), it is not a pretty story. Author Glain, for example, chronicles the rise of the national security state post-war, but leaves it to McCarthy to devastate the State Department at a time when its prescience might have altered relations in East Asia forever, possibly preventing the Korean War:

The damage done to the State Department by McCarthy's attacks [and the destruction of State's China hands like Service, Davis and Vincent] was irreparable. Those who did pursue diplomatic careers would find a culture of caution that impaired lateral thinking. (McCarthy's) real legacy is the diminution of the Department of State into the intellectually inert and politically impotent agency that it is today. p.
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