- Series: The Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Lectures on American Civilization and Government (Book 1)
- Paperback: 150 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st Paperback edition (October 31, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674018362
- ISBN-13: 978-0674018365
- Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Surprise, Security, and the American Experience (The Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Lectures on American Civilization and Government) 1st Paperback Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The postSeptember 11 strategy of the Bush administration is often described as a radical departure from U.S. policy. Gaddis, one of America's leading scholars of foreign policy and international relations, provocatively demonstrates that, to the contrary, the principles of preemption, unilateralism and hegemony go back to the earliest days of the republic. Gaddis resurrects the 18th-century idea of an "empire of liberty": whether as a universal principle or in an American context, liberty could flourish only in an empire that provided safety. The British burning of Washington in 1814 highlighted American vulnerability to certain forms of surprise attack. In consequence, Gaddis recounts, John Quincy Adams developed a strategy of seeking control over the North American continent with minimal coercion, but through preemptive action where necessary. The attack on Pearl Harbor extended the concept to global dimensions, eventually expanding the U.S. sphere of influence exponentially. The events of September 11 extended the concept of preemptive action even at the expense of sovereignty when terrorism is involved. Gaddis describes this latest expansion of American power in response to surprise attack as a volatile mixture of prudence and arrogance. But instead of the usual caveats, he recommends the U.S. continue on an interventionist course, and he has no qualms about calling America the best hope of liberty in the eyes of most of the earth's inhabitants. The ability to question all values that is liberty's essence depends, he finds, on defending certain valuesunilaterally and preemptively when necessary, but not randomly. This compact, provocative history of an idea-in-action has the potential to alter the U.S.'s collective self-image.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Historian Gaddis places U.S. reaction to 9/11 in the context of national security policy. In 1817, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, reacting to the burning of Washington, D.C., by British forces during the War of 1812, inaugurated three policies to secure the nation as it grew: preemption --the U.S. would react swiftly and forcibly to attacks; unilateralism--the U.S. would reject alliances requiring response to unforeseeable developments involving other nations; hegemony--the U.S. would predominate in the Western Hemisphere. Polk in the Mexican War and McKinley in the Spanish-American stretched the limits of preemption, and Wilson's internationalism foundered on unilateralism, but the enormously popular Franklin D. Roosevelt significantly altered security policy by allying for World War II and crafting postwar developments, including the UN, to expand U.S. hegemony worldwide. Gaddis argues that George W. Bush in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq attempted FDR's exploitation of multilateralism but ultimately elected preemption ("shock and awe") in the service of global hegemony. Even Bush's staunchest opponents stand to be edified by Gaddis' impressive presentation. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Excellent work Professor Gaddis, if you keep writing like this maybe more people will get into reading about histroy.
-Sergeant, U.S. Army
In response the 9/11 attack the Bush administration formulated a new strategy, outlined in the national security speech at West Point on June 1, 2002. This speech called for a new strategy which looked like a departure from American tradition. The key elements of this new strategy were preemption, unilateralism, and hegemony. In the beginning, it was little noticed; however, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, people began to examine this strategy more closely.
Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis, in this short and well-written little book, argues that this was not a new policy, in fact it had deep roots in American history that go back to the earliest days of the republic. Gaddis demonstrates that after the British attack on Washington DC during the War of 1812, the then secretary of state, John Quincy Adams asserted the same three principles. Preemption was the rationale for Andrew Jackson's invasion of Florida, the "failed state" of its day being a haven for marauding Seminoles, runaway slaves and profiteering pirates. With the diminishing authority of the Spanish in Latin America, the US sought to restrict the influence of other European powers in the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine was a unilateralist declaration even though the US did not have the means to enforce it without the backing of the British navy. And in the end, the policy of John Quincy Adams was to be the predominant power in the Western Hemisphere, or at least on the North American continent - a hegemon in all but name.
Preemption, unilateralism, and hegemony was indeed a US strategy up until World War II. The US was seeking merely to assure its security by keeping the European powers out of the hemisphere. Most Americans believed it was a mistake to seek an oversees empire as the brief foray into the Phillipines proved in the early part of the 20th century.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt was forced the build alliances with the Soviet Union and other great powers in order to defeat Germany and Japan. It was thus necessary to forgo preemption and unilateralism in deference to the alliance. During and after World War II, the US took the lead in building multilateralism institutions - a multilateral system that not only ensured American hegemony, but made it desirable at the same time. Forgoing preemption gave the US the moral high ground, which it maintained until the invasion of Iraq.
The Bush administration's invasion of Iraq had all the elements of a grand strategy: preemption, unilateralsim - when multilateralism failed - and American hegemony. There was also an innovation to this strategy: there would be an active promotion of democracy in the Middle East. This idea swayed many liberals to the cause, including members of the media and the academic community.
The problems with this strategy became apparent after the invasion. They are too numerous to go into and obvious to anyone following the news. The mistakes made during the occupation leaves the Bush Doctine with only a few remaining supporters. The failure to enlist the great powers, not to mention many of the smaller powers, destroyed our status as a benign hegemon and jepardizes our moral high ground.
Gaddis does an excellent job of explaining the grand strategy and showing that it has precedents in history, better than Bush or anyone in his administration. However, he does not show that this strategy is justified, morally or legally, and he does not seem to fully appreciate that many of our friends and allies find this strategy frightening and repugnant. They do not call us arrogant for nothing.
Nevertheless, the jury is still out. Immediately after the invasion, it looked as though one regime after another would fall in the region, along the lines of the dominoes of Eastern Europe. At the present writing, with the Iraqi elections approaching, a decent outcome seems remote and a civil war possible. Yet, there are stirrings of hope and change elsewhere in the Middle East, such as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The upheaval in Iraq is also creating debate that did not exist before in Egypt and the Gulf States. The pendulum may again swing the other way and the grand strategy may be working inspite of itself.
This little book offers something a little different: the meta-policy of America. The even larger scale of American foreign policy. On this scale the grounding in the country's principles together with the continuity of concerns and decisions becomes clear and understandable.
Three attacks surprised Americans - the burning of the capital in 1814, the attack of Pearl Harbor in 1941, and 9/11/2001. Based on concern for security and national principles the foreign policy (on this scale) was set, driven by three leaders.
The first leader was John Quincy Adams. The meta-policy combined notions of preemptive action, unilateral authority, and hegemonic power. The scope for these was this hemisphere. The meta-policy lasted pretty well until Pearl Harbor, though in practice it was not regi;ar;y (or even at all?) applied after World War I.
Second was Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the policy altered the notions somewhat. For WW II and the Cold War era. The scope was world wide and the actors were nation states and alliances of nations.
Third is George Walker Bush. In this era America has reverted somewhat to the Adams era approach. The scope is still world wide however the actors include transnational entities (such as al Queda).
I will leave the review there. The author marshalls events, documents, and the usual historical elements to support this continuity of American meta-policy. While President Bush's doctrine of preemption has far more historical context and perspective than many give him credit for (the neocons hardly invented this), there are also deviations and expansions that the author calls into question.
This book is neither a critique of Bush, nor a full fledged critique of these policies. The author does not attempt to compare President Bush to President Roosevelt for greatness.
The book left me considering a much larger historical perspective for American actions, and a greater sense of continuity and even consistency than the chattering press credits. It might also be good for a few foreign correspondents to read since it seems many outside American are unaware of American foreign policy (there is none, or it is shoot-from-the-hip Cowboyism) and American perspective on security. For all who read this book tomorrow's newspaper articles on the war, Iraq, terrorism, etc. will read just a little bit different.