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4.0 out of 5 stars
The United States of Fear
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on February 21, 2012
I am reading this work, pausing, contemplating the author's presentation, his argument and feeling so many feelings. I have a sense of gratitude to the author. Gratitude for his valor in writing this book. Perhaps his act will be one of the last reference points for what valor used to mean before it became a meaningless logo, perhaps the name of a new video training game to prepare our video game warriors to operate multiple drones over multiple sites. I am absorbing this author's well presented, fact-based presentation of what is happening while we in America fall even deeper and deeper into the sleep of our self-involved issues: our inability to share wealth, our inability to care for our sick, our unwillingness to value the child in our country, to provide a quality public education system, to address is a hard book to read. It is an inconvenient truth, one of the thousands of calls to awareness, acceptance and action in this nation of its diminishing seemingly emasculated or deeply drugged, or tremendously distracted society. Perhaps it takes an act of valor to read it....but no, that's not valor either. Valor is something I am wondering about today. Thank you to the author and publishers for putting this forward. I am surprised that more reviews have not been posted...maybe I shouldn't be. Perhaps the only valorous thing a citizen can do is get active, protest, confront and try to maintain a view of workability and a better day for the world, its current state, its future.
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Good insights into how the US government led by the neocons under Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes and Obama have been turning the country into something that closely resembles the Soviet Union in the 1980’s with spending on the military industrial complex instead of the country’s infrastructure and people.

Tom Englehardt does a good job of illustrating the parallels between the men running the Soviet Union who continued to mistake military power for real power in the world. The power was sufficient to control their own people with its police state although it was not as technically sophisticated as the creation of the US police state begun after September 11. The US has seen its real power, militarily and economically eroded over the past 30 years when measured in terms other than the ability to turn countries back to the stone age with our weapons of mass destruction.

There is an aspect of the Peter principle at play as well where the same men and women in government and the military whose judgment has lead to gross failures continue to be in power and continue to be rewarded despite their obvious failures. The same economic and policy advisors go from one administration to the next so it no longer matters which political party is in control of Congress or the White House.

The price for their failures is paid by soldiers with their lives and the citizens and taxpayers whose quality of life declines year by year. In any listing of industrialized countries in the world the USA consistently ranks 27th or worse in all but the ability to inflict massive damage.

What is missing from Mr. Englehardt’s book though is a broader sense of how we came to be ruled by the neocons and how they are driven not out of a need for military power but for wealth. With all of America’s wars businessmen have profited enormously and large personal fortunes have been created at the expense of the people of this country and those we invaded.

Our unilateralism can be traced back at least to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 when the president stated that the America’s were ours to control. This was extended by Teddy Roosevelt to Asia and led to the US occupation of the Philippines for nearly a century.

These military actions outside the USA were always to support the private interests of US businessmen and nearly always was in opposition to the interests of the native peoples and in opposition to democratically elected governments. It was business interests that led to the invasions of Cuba, Hawaii, the Philippines, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan to name but a few.

It was Germany’s top 25 industrialists that put Hitler in power in return for his outlawing worker unions as with the men backing so many governors in the US with the same kinds of backroom deal. It was the industrialists that wanted the US out of the Philippines that we were occupying that resulted in the attack on the ships at Pearl Harbor. It was the men at British Petroleum that urged Churchill to request the assistance of Eisenhower in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iraq and led to the installation of an army officer, one Saddam Hussein. It was the belief in oil in Vietnam as with Indonesia (where we gave the government the go ahead and the weapons to massacre the people of East Timor), that directed the actions of our State Department and military with the support of dictators throughout the region. It was the interests of energy companies that have directed US military actions and the sales of weapons in the Middle East and Africa.

It is a process of industrial colonization that requires the use of force and so our soldiers are sent off to fight for the industrialists of our country. The first “world war” was initiated for control over the Middle East and Africa by the European colonizing governments of France, Germany, Belgian, and the Dutch. The map dividing up the spoils of war, the continent of Africa to the victors was drawn up two years before the end of World War II, just as it was after World War II when Vietnam was given to the French by the United States under Truman.

What is pathetic and tragic is how many deluded soldiers go off to kill and be killed with the mistaken notion that they are fighting for their country when nothing could be further from the truth. The fight in support of the profits for industrialists and bankers and the manufacturers of the machines of war.
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on February 27, 2012
Something very much in evidence in this book is Mr. Englehardt's ability as a writer. The essays in this book are well written.

Some of the topics covered by the author include terrorism vs. food poisoning in terms of the threat presented to Americans; Raymond Davis; and the author's education about the world through viewing foreign films while growing up in Manhattan in the 1950's. A recurrent subject in the book is the misleading or facial nature of the "deadlines" civilian and military officials give for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. The exorbitant costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan military ventures are another prominent theme. For example, he focuses heavily on the mega-embassies/regional command centers/cities within cities that we have built or are building in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Englehardt quotes a National Priorities Project study which found that the $790 million price tag for the new embassy and consular facilities in Afghanistan could have provided jobs for 22,000 teachers, 15,000 healthcare workers and 13,000 clean energy workers in the US. Other exorbitant costs noted by the author include several tens of billions of dollars in unsuccessful programs to train Afghan military and police and $773,000 to remodel a cinder block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell for our soldiers in Guantanamo Bay. The Gitmo torture camp, of course, is still open though Obama promised to close it.

The American method of fighting the "War on Terror" receives coverage in this book. He discusses examples of civilian casualties from the American war in Afghanistan (along with a few in Iraq). He notes that Wikileaks released a video of a US Apache helicopter attack on a Baghdad street in July 2007 that killed 12 non-combatants, including two Reuters employees and a father of two children who had stopped his vehicle to help the wounded of the attack. The Pentagon covered up this massacre until Wikileaks released the video of it. Englehardt notes that Wikileaks also released Pentagon logs showing that hundreds of civilians had been killed in unreported US military actions in Afghanistan. Englehardt reports an incident in February 2010 in Paktia province in Afghanistan. In that incident US snipers killed a local police intelligence chief, his brother and three women. The snipers dug the bullets out of the dead women, bound and gagged them and claimed that the dead men had killed the women in an "honor killing." The American media, as is their wont, accepted the military's version at face value until the version started to crumble and the military paid the victim's relatives $30,000 and sacrificed a goat. Other atrocities include a US raid that killed prosperous Afghan businessman with ties to the Afghan government and 76 members of his extended family in August 2008; the killing of 27 civilians in an attack on a minibus in February 2010; the indiscriminate shooting by marine special forces retaliating for a suicide bomb along an Afghan road in April 2007, killing--among others-- a 75 year old man and a 16 year old girl gathering grass for her family's farm; and a March 2011 massacre of 9 Afghan boys collecting wood. David Petraeus and Robert Gates apologized for this last atrocity to President Karzai though in the case of another air attack that killed 65 civilians--including children--Petraeus suggested that it was a fabricated atrocity. According to Englehardt, the US has also massacred at least half a dozen Afghan wedding parties in air attacks since 2001. He quotes Stanley McChrystal as saying that US troops have killed a lot of people who were no threat to them at checkpoints in Afghanistan. He notes that US troops have been in the habit of bulldozing homes and destroying agricultural walls in southern Afghanistan in order to build roads and other conveniences for their war against the Taliban.

Englehardt implies that civilian deaths caused by the US military in Afghanistan are, for the most part, not deliberate. However American pilots are often unable to tell the difference between insurgents and non-combatants. Often, information about suspected terrorists is very unreliable.
Englehardt notes that Mike Mullen and Robert Gates declared that Jullian Assange had a lot of blood on his hands as a result of the Wikileaks file leaks. He notes that it is rather rich that Mullen and Gates make this charge, when it is they who have real blood on their hands.

Englehardt's overall picture is that US foreign policy is dominated by a military industrial complex--most particularly Pentagon officials and arms manufacturers who have a vested interest in continued astronomical military spending. State, local and federal budgets are being slashed for essential services but the military budget is only slowed in its growth. The United States accounts for 47 percent of the world's military spending. In spite of the military-industrial complex, Englehardt writes that American power is declining and it won't be long before the US is not the superpower it once was. He suggests that the Arab Spring--with the overthrow of US supported dictators in Egypt and Tunisia-demonstrates this erosion of American power. He notes recent efforts to revitalize the bugaboo of Chinese military power as one of the justifications for increasing American military spending.

It is certainly depressing that Bradley Manning, Jullian Assange and other whistleblowers are prosecuted by President Obama--who also refuses to prosecute Bush administration torture enablers and war criminals. Of course, Obama himself along with Gates, Mullen, George HW Bush, John Negroponte, Bill Clinton etc. are not prosecuted in spite of being guilty of crimes against humanity.

Englehardt discusses the use of drones in US combat operations but I wish he would have cited the studies about the many hundreds of civilians that Obama's drone attacks have killed in Pakistan.

The author provides no footnotes but explains in a note at the very end of the book that URL sources are available on the pages where these essays were originally published at
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on December 13, 2014
Well written; good read. Very enlightening, but also pretty heavily biased toward the left. However, if you are comfortable sifting through the bias, there is some really great information, and he makes some pretty interesting points (coming from a centered voter). I definitely appreciated the new perspective. If you are interested in economics (war/peace perspective), history, or just trying to follow the many military conquests of the U.S. You will enjoy this.
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on June 21, 2015
This is a great eye-opening book about the U.S's fearful attitude toward the whole world written by a well informed but regular guy. The actually perspective is very sad and hard to take. However, thank you.
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on October 19, 2013
Fantastic filled with all good knowledge people do not know because the mainstream media nevers reports the real stuff to the masses. A must read for all who care about the USA and want to help save it.
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on October 16, 2014
An invaluable book at what has happened to our country since 9/11...I hope you all have the guts to read it. Then add and its Facebook page to your list of sources for fearless reporting by independent journalists.
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on December 10, 2014
good background research
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on August 7, 2012
Once again, Tom writes a stellar critique. He always seems to hit home runs with his articles and books. His website is a daily must read, and this book should be required reading.
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on March 25, 2016
Good read.
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