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Masters of Illusion: American Leadership in the Media Age Hardcover – December 26, 2006

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"While too many writers offer the public mixed cocktails, Rosefielde and Mills have given us a cold glass of pure spring water. Numerous sacred cows are slaughtered with relish and many idols of the tribe are gleefully smashed. On every page readers will be delighted, provoked, aroused, or enraged, but most of all stimulated to think. This truly iconoclastic work is a book that will provoke what hopefully will be a long lasting debate here and abroad."
Professor Stephen Blank, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College

"Government think tanks around the world are working on policies how to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Professors Rosefielde and Mills' book addresses the need for a new American agenda for strength and security for the beginning of this century. It is provoking and challenging, and necessary to read!"
Jan Rylander, Chairman of Research and Technology of WEAO, Western European Union

"Masters of Illusion is an exceptional achievement and a fascinating read. It presents a compelling analysis in depth of world affairs and political-economic-strategic trends that greatly challenge the security and well-being of the United States. It also contains a cogent critique of American leadership and certain illusions that often misdirect policy. This is the best single book on international trends that I have read in a long time."
William Van Cleave, Dept. of Defense & Strategic Studies, Missouri State University

"Coming from outside the mainstream of conventional political-science discussions, Rosefielde and Mills offer what might be called a post-neoconservative book: Rejecting both the Bush Administration's neoconservative foreign and defense policies and the liberal alternatives, the authors advocate a strategic posture which they argue is 'best in future prospect for ourselves and the world.'"
J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, The National Interest

Book Description

Masters of Illusion provides a vigorous assessment of the forces that will buffet the United States and the global order over the next half century. The analysis differs radically from other assessments by using economic systems theory to identify potential conflicts that so-called 'globalists' have missed.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521857449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521857444
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,256,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Over the past decade, the focus of the news media has been on Islamist terror organizations such as Al Qaeda, and understandably so. The September 11, 2001 attacks were the biggest acts of terror in history, and every American remembers well the site of the twin towers falling to the ground. It was a traumatic experience that set into motion a chain of events that culminated in the Iraq War in 2003.

But as devastating as the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath were, they must be taken in context. Al Qaeda, even were the organization to acquire contraband nuclear devices, has never had the ability to seriously threaten the existence or power of the United States. And all of the rhetoric about weapons of mass destruction aside, a nuclear-armed rogue state like Iraq under Hussein, Iran, or North Korea would likewise lack the ability to seriously threaten the existence or power of the United States. They could potentially destroy one or more major cities, kill millions or tens of millions of civilians, and severely disrupt our economy, but annihilate us? Not a chance. The only country today that could credibly be said to have that power would be Russia--though in the not-too-distant future, China may too share that distinction.

The most serious threat to world security and peace is not terrorism but great power rivalry. At least this is the view of Steven Rosefielde and D. Quinn Mills, authors of Masters of Illusion: American Leadership in the Media Age.

According to Rosefielde and Mills, "Conflict of the great powers, when it comes, is the greatest danger mankind faces. For this reason it is essential always to keep our eye first and foremost on the great powers."

I appreciate a historical perspective.
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The title refers to two illusions that the authors claim are embedded in America's "public culture." One illusion is the notion that people and nations are generally well-intentioned and fair-minded, so that conflicts must result from misunderstanding. The other is that all economic and political systems are converging on Western-style capitalist democracy. Certainly some Americans believe these things, but are these beliefs as pervasive and strongly held as the authors claim? Central to the book is the claim that these illusions have the American mind in a tight grip. Are the authors right? You don't need to read the book to judge for yourself. If you think (as I do) that the authors have oversimplified American attitudes, one major thesis of their book collapses. There is a deeper problem with the book. The authors claim to see the world clearly, without illusion. Yet never, ever, do they display any uncertainty (or sense of humor) about anything. The future, especially the long-term future, is too uncertain for anyone to have confidence about how things will play out. The authors do not seem to recognize any possibility they could be wrong--for example, about the permanent superiority of the US economic system. Yet their own table on page 176 (intended to show the inferiority of Soviet economic performance) shows that Japan did better than the US in growth of per capita GDP for 1973-2001, and West Europe did just as well. Who knows what the statistics for 2002-2030 will show? Furthermore, they have tunnel vision: they see only threats of a military or quasi-military nature. Their four key threats are (1) terrorism, (2) Russia, (3) China and (4) Europe. To meet those threats they espouse a concept of "strategic independence.Read more ›
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