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Winning the Unwinnable War: America's Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism [Kindle Edition]

Elan Journo , Alex Epstein , Yaron Brook
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Eight years after 9/11 and in the shadow of two protracted U.S. military campaigns in the Middle East, the enemy is not only undefeated but emboldened and resurgent. What went wrong—and what should we do going forward?

Winning the Unwinnable War shows how our own policy ideas led to 9/11 and then crippled our response in the Middle East, and it makes the case for an unsettling conclusion: By subordinating military victory to perverse, allegedly moral constraints, Washington's policy has undermined our national security. Owing to the significant influence of Just War Theory and neoconservatism, the Bush administration consciously put the imperative of shielding civilians and bringing them elections above the goal of eliminating real threats to our security. Consequently, this policy left our enemies stronger, and America weaker, than before. The dominant alternative to Bush-esque idealism in foreign policy—so-called realism—has made a strong comeback under the tenure of Barack Obama. But this nonjudgmental, supposedly practical approach is precisely what helped unleash the enemy prior to 9/11.

The message of the essays in this thematic collection is that only by radically re-thinking our foreign policy in the Middle East can we achieve victory over the enemy that attacked us on 9/11. We need a new moral foundation for our Mideast policy. That new starting point for U.S. policy is the moral ideal championed by the philosopher Ayn Rand: rational self-interest. Implementing this approach entails objectively defining our national interest as protecting the lives and freedoms of Americans—and then taking principled action to safeguard them. The book lays out the necessary steps for achieving victory and for securing America's long-range interests in the volatile Middle East.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Fighting for victory may sound obvious but Journo, Epstein, and Brook show how remote the goal of victory is from current U.S. policy in the Middle East, which they characterize as based on 'a welfare mission to serve the poor and oppressed.' Instead of this unwinnable approach, the authors offer a robust and unapologetic re-assertion of American national interests, and they do so with a bracing eloquence that left this reader elated. (Daniel Pipes, director, Middle East Forum)

As a Syrian woman who experienced life in an Islamic despotic society, I wonder whether the American government and the American public understand the gravity of the current danger emanating from radical Islam—the most vicious adversary the West has ever faced. This important book provides US policy makers with valuable ideas on how to win the war against Islamic totalitarianism and its insidious encroachment into our Western society. (Wafa Sultan, psychiatrist and author of A God Who Hates)

From the Back Cover

"Fighting for victory may sound obvious but Journo, Epstein, and Brook show how remote the goal of victory is from current U.S. policy in the Middle East, which they characterize as based on 'a welfare mission to serve the poor and oppressed.' Instead of this unwinnable approach, the authors offer a robust and unapologetic re-assertion of American national interests, and they do so with a bracing eloquence that left this reader elated."
--Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum 

* * * 

"As a Syrian woman who experienced life in an Islamic despotic society, I wonder whether the American government and the American public understand the gravity of the current danger emanating from radical Islam--the most vicious adversary the West has ever faced. This important book provides US policy makers with valuable ideas on how to win the war against Islamic totalitarianism and its insidious encroachment into our Western society."  
--Wafa Sultan, psychiatrist and author of A God Who Hates 

* * *


Eight years after 9/11 and in the shadow of two protracted U.S. military campaigns in the Middle East, the enemy is not only undefeated but emboldened and resurgent. What went wrong--and what should we do going forward?

Winning the Unwinnable War shows how our own policy ideas led to 9/11 and then crippled our response in the Middle East, and it makes the case for an unsettling conclusion: By subordinating military victory to perverse, allegedly moral constraints, Washington's policy has undermined our national security. Owing to the significant influence of Just War Theory and neoconservatism, the Bush administration consciously put the imperative of shielding civilians and bringing them elections above the goal of eliminating real threats to our security. Consequently, this policy left our enemies stronger, and America weaker, than before. The dominant alternative to Bush-esque idealism in foreign policy--so-called realism--has made a strong comeback under the tenure of Barack Obama. But this nonjudgmental, supposedly practical approach is precisely what helped unleash the enemy prior to 9/11.

The message of the essays in this thematic collection is that only by radically re-thinking our foreign policy in the Middle East can we achieve victory over the enemy that attacked us on 9/11. We need a new moral foundation for our Mideast policy. That new starting point for U.S. policy is the moral ideal championed by the philosopher Ayn Rand: rational self-interest. Implementing this approach entails objectively defining our national interest as protecting the lives and freedoms of Americans--and then taking principled action to safeguard them. The book lays out the necessary steps for achieving victory and for securing America's long-range interests in the volatile Middle East.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2408 KB
  • Print Length: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (November 16, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003UERGVY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,399 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A principled approach to the war December 1, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Elan Journo's Winning the Unwinnable War is an important book giving a principled analysis of the "war on Islamic totalitarianism" (as they call it) that United States need to wage. The book consists of an edited collection of essays by the Ayn Rand Institute's Journo, Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein, many of which were previously published in Craig Biddle's excellent journal The Objective Standard: Fall 2009, Vol. 4, No. 3 The Objective Standard. While as a result the book is a tad repetitive, the themes of these essays are important and bear repeating: We are at war, at least since the Iranian hostage taking in 1979. The enemy is a state sponsored totalitarian ideology best referred to as Islamic totalitarianism. We have neither recognized the enemy, nor fought as if we realized we were at war. It is time we identified both that we are at war (and have been for decades), and who the enemy is. It is also time we fought without the irrational and immoral self-imposed restriction and fight to win.
The book details the history of the conflict, our inadequate response, and how we need to change to win. Highly recommended for all anyone interested in a more principled approach to the subject.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A penetrating, integrated analysis October 31, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book changed how I thought of American foreign policy.

The book is divided into 3 major sections:

1. The true nature of the Islamic threat - how 30 years of Islamic aggression can be integrated into a larger picture - bringing the true enemy into sharp relief.

2. How Bush's strategy, national war doctrine, and neoconservative foreign policy have culminated in our inability to identify and deal with the true threat, rendering the war - as both Bush and Obama have called it - "unwinnable".

3. The current state of the middle east, and what can be done today to turn things around and achieve victory.

The book also has an excellent index, so finding a specific person, place, or idea is a snap.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I'm still reading this book but had to write about it now. This book cuts through liberal/conservative/neoconservative hyperbole to get to the real and fundamental issue of our foreign policy. Or rather, what our foreign policy should be. Today, and for many decades, regardless of who is in power, it had been based on altruism and appeasement. Look at the results. This book lays claim to an actual moral foundation based on American self-interest and self-assertion in world affairs. It is my judgment that the "war on terror" should have been over in three to six months with our enemies soundly and totally crushed. This book is the blueprint for that victory.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Save Soldiers' Lives, Buy This Book! November 20, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Journo, Brook, and Epstein have compiled a robust defense for the moral case of American self-interest in Middle Eastern foreign policy. Contrary to popular belief, Journo et al. demonstrate with reference to history and U.S. policy since the Carter administration that the U.S. has been engaging in self-effacing, appeasing action towards its enemies that have only resulted in making them stronger. This most especially includes the recent Bush administration who, far from acting unilaterally with "Cowboy Diplomacy" as their guide, have needlessly sacrificed our military soldiers for the supposed cause of nation building and securing murderous barbarians the ability to vote for oppressive theocratic oligarchies.

The authors explain why America is losing the fight against Islamic Totalitarianism as well as the will to fight at all. Armed with the proper ethics, they make their case that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that is the well spring of all the attacks against the U.S. and that if America wishes to win and bring peace to our shores we need to topple their illegitimate regime root and all. With their inspiration in ruin Islamists worldwide will lose hope and be morally crushed knowing that their cause to spread Islam across the globe is self-defeating.

After Brook and Epstein explain what is wrong with the current U.S. approach towards foreign policy (championed by liberals and conservatives alike) and its fundamental flaw, Just War Theory, Journo offers a positive moral alternative. A policy true to American self-defense and to the protection of its citizens' individual rights, a policy of rational self-interest: egoism.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a must read! August 5, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wow! Anyone interested in US foreign policy, the Islamist movement, our current wars--really anyone interested in the security of American citizens and of our military personnel--must read this book. It is offers a clear-eyed perspective on our current situation, placing it in the context of the history of Islamic totalitarianism.

The book is relatively short (216 pages of text, 255 pages total with endnotes, references, etc.) and is easily readable. The writing is clear and direct. The book is divided into 3 related parts.

In part 1 the authors identify the nature and origin of the enemy: Islamic totalitarianism. They also review in part 1 how our foreign policy (they cite evidence and actions of the Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr, and Clinton administrations) appeased and emboldened the Islamists, pre-9/11.

In part 2 the authors review our foreign policy post-9/11. They explain the nature and roots of Bush's "Forward Strategy for Freedom", and in the process demonstrate why it is failing it's (alleged) basic goal of making us secure. They also show how "Just War Theory" and Neoconservative foreign policy are incompatible with a principled policy of U.S. self-defense.

Part 3 surveys the results of Bush's policies across the world, not just in Afghanistan and Iraq, but in Iran, Pakistan and elsewhere. The authors show that the Islamist threat has been strengthened, rather than weakened by Bush's policies. After exposing the flaws (and roots) of past and current policy, the authors present a strong positive vision for defeating the Islamist threat. They show that we can expect a genuine victory over and lasting security from the Islamist threat. The final chapter offers a bracing tonic: a radical rethinking of our Middle East foreign policy, based soundly on the principle of our actual national self-interest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Nuke them all?
This short book offers a convincing translation of Ayn Rand's thought into the language of foreign policy principles. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Leselampe
5.0 out of 5 stars A principled approach
I loved this book. It opened my eyes to a selfish means of self defense when the context involved other countries.
Published 16 months ago by m082844
4.0 out of 5 stars Returning War to back to the concept of War
Islam has been on the warpath almost since its inception Circa AD 630 fortunately Charlemagne understood what modern America does not. Read more
Published 19 months ago by John Immel
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
Some people may find this book offensive or "politically incorrect"! But this book needs to be read by people, especially those who think we, or they, or the government can be nice... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Gary Stuber
2.0 out of 5 stars Overlooks Huge Issues
I just finished Winning the Unwinnable War and found it seriously lacking in background. Let me first say that the views on "Just War" and the neoconservative views of our recent... Read more
Published 24 months ago by James M. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and Game Changing
This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in what has happened in the Middle East and how we need to respond. Read more
Published on January 24, 2012 by J. W. Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars Best foreign policy writing since...
I haven seen foreign policy writing like this since "The Resister: The Political Warfare Journal of the Special Forces Underground"
Published on February 10, 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Saving Soldiers' Lives
This book needs to be sent to the White House. This integrated analysis should be utilized to defeat terrorism.
Published on December 3, 2009 by David M. Lombardo
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