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The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's Paperback – Bargain Price, July 1, 2010
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Mr. Engelhardt intends to raise public consciousness about the realities of our latter day American empire. Mr. Engelhardt detects a kind of Orwellian detachment where most Americans are at peace with the immense economic and social costs and the extreme suffering inflicted on others by Washington's perpetual wars. Mr. Engelhardt's description of a planet garrisoned by hundreds of U.S. bases whose arsenals include land, sea, air and space-based weaponry is a frightening description of an imperial America that has practically shed any semblance of its democratic past.
Lest anyone miss the point, Mr. Engelhardt writes how the Obama administration's war policies are all but indistinguishable from his predecessor's. It seems the institutional roots run too deep for the president to do much about the Pentagon, even if he wanted to. Consequently, while one might think that America's current economic crisis might hasten a dismantling of empire, the truth is that an enlightened and engaged citizenry represents our only hope for change; to which end this book makes an important and timely contribution.
I highly recommend this persuasive, eye-opening book to everyone.
This little heralded paperback masterpiece of only 216 pages should enlighten anyone who has not already come to the sad conclusion that the USA has turned into a dangerous empire. Be sure, after reading Tom Engelhardt's book, to read those books recently published with similar views such as Chalmer Johnson's "Dismantling The Empire: America's Last Best Hope" and Andrew Bacevich's "Washington Rules: America's Path To Permanent War".
Yes, we lost 3000 lives on 9/11, plus over 4,000 men and women in the current wars, but we killed 3 million in Vietnam, then hundreds of thousands in Cambodia and now hundreds of thousands in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, including many women and children. Such civilian losses are commonly referred to as "Collateral Damage" by our military.
While our Cold War excuses (Remember the Domino Theory and the Missle Gap?)may have had validity at an earlier time, the claimed threats that prompted our continued military escalations and expansions clearly need reassessment now.
From its first line, author Tom Engelhardt sets the motif for his tragic recitation: ""War is Peace" was one of the memorable slogans on the facade of the Ministry of Truth or Minitrue in "Newspeak" the language invented by George Orwell in 1948 for his dystopian novel, "1984"". From there his readers are tutored in how our fear of attack was obsessively co-opted by our government and its willing industrial military suppliers into a level of Cold War "preparedness" which featured a supply of nuclear weapons which could have blown up the entire human race.
Arguably, the use to date of our awesome war making power has failed us, but this author plausibly describes the spread like an octopus of American presence around the world in the form of over 700 military bases which could hardly be described as mainly defensive, most in places where our security clearly wasn't then and/or is not now at stake.
In retrospect our forays into Korea, Vietnam and now in the Middle East, proved that war was not the answer. While control of oil was clearly a prime motivation in Iraq, the cost in human lives and treasure and the escalating threat of terrorism cry out for a new evaluation of our present imperial policies which have been embraced by all Presidents since WWII including Obama, who has now bought into Bush's ultimate folly, continuing that "preventive war" in Iraq with no real end of our occupancy there and around the world in sight. For example, we have built perhaps our largest overseas embassy in Bagdad and have other large permanent military facilities in Iraq.
After noting Obama's submission speech to his military industrial advisors at West Point, Engelhardt writes for us, perhaps the book's most brilliant writing, the policy speech which he hoped Obama would have made upon entering his Presidency. The author has Obama reciting the agreed upon facts of the present situation in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Then he has Obama saying we will not continue to fight a counter-insurgency war, as such cannot be won, as we proved in Vietnam.
So the author then has Obama state, "It's time for a change.....I expect anger and debate. I take full responsibility for whatever may result from this policy of departure."
As in Vietnam, we will eventually come to this point of withdrawal, after the loss of hundreds of lost lives on both sides later and trillions in wasted money. We can hope that point in time will be ASAP.
Citing the disastrous effect on all our domestic priorities resulting from this overspending on defense, we can well understand how excessive fear about our security and the greed of those who continue to reap huge profits from "the permanent war" have driven our country into the control of an elitist oligarchy perhaps beyond citizen control.