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U.S. Versus Them: How a Half-Century of Conservatism Has Undermined America's Security Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 17, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Scoblic shows us how human nature causes even the policy makers to gravitate from time to time to a state of moral clarity. Everything is easier once you achieve moral clarity and it provides a very saleable message. This type of thinking sometimes divides the world into "us" and "them", which would be fine if we didn't have to deal with "them".
The problem is that more than ever, foreign policy matters, especially because of economic interdependence and the fact that some actors have weapons of mass destruction. In this sense, the human nature to define what is not well understood into clear issues of good and evil is a liability according to the author. Thus, there is a need for professional diplomacy and politicians that work well with this function.
Scoblic interprets diplomacy's tug of war between the intellect and the hardwired brain. What is so amazing about Scoblic is his ability to understand America as both an insider and also as an observer. And this is the gift that he gives us in U.S. vs THEM.
After reading Scoblic, you will be able to understand why apolitical intelligence might be distrusted in any era and nation. More than that, I think readers will be able to apply some of these principles to our own lives. That is what great scholars can do for us, and I count Scoblic as one of the best. Hopefully, he will one day come out with a documentary.
Not only does the overall concept of this book original and insightful, but Scoblic manages to avoid the trap of too many politically oriented books- he does not veer randomly into tabloid style right wing bashing while simply sprinkling his book with facts. The book sticks coherently to it's main message and backs up its ideas strongly.
Finally- the book is written with a slight fictional flare- the opening line in: "This book is about a mystery." This style, applied delicately as it is, helps to move the reader through the detailed and at times complex themes and arguments, making US VS THEM, a seriously important book, not only informative, but entertaining and engaging.
I read in one review something along the lines of "if you have to read on book before the upcoming elections, make it this one." I couldn't agree more. No matter what happens in November, the Republicans have tapped into something in the American Psyche so that, no matter how badly they screw things up and are caught in scandals, they are still never far from power. Their overall policies and strategies aren't going to change dramatically. US VS THEM gives invaluable insight into why, whether you are on the left or right, the Republicans have to change their foreign policy or American will be in even more trouble than it is now.
"In foreign policy, 'conservative' describes a distinct attitude in which the world is conceived in terms of 'us versus them' or 'good versus evil,' with the United States assuming the role of a righteous protagonist facing a monolithic enemy. It is often an explicitly religious vision, with frequent allusions not only to good and evil, but also to God, Satan and Armageddon." - from the introduction, xv.
He intends to show us why the Bush Administration went into Iraq and left North Korea and Iran alone, while allowing relations with Russia and (to a lesser extent) China to deteriorate. While the book is a good analysis of what went wrong during many past administrations, especially under GOP leadership, he fails to make a strong argument for this initial premise.
For most people who are not gormandizers of liberal propaganda, this over the top definition of foreign policy conservatism will be hard to stomach. First of all, the worldview that some conservative opinion leaders push as a justification for jingoism does not usually come from the top conservative leadership but from the extreme religious right and certain agitating (i.e. sheep-herding), in other words, paranoid factions of the GOP. Although this myopic worldview does influence the decisions made by conservative leaders (by reining them in from more pragmatic pursuits), it mainly holds sway over the voters who poorly understand the world and must be given such a broader vision to get them excited over national pride and psyched up for war.
Scoblic fails to properly develop the role of the profit motive and U.S. economic hegemony as the real motives for a conservative foreign policy. When conservatives wage war or otherwise assert U.S.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Scoblic writes unbelievably well. I had no idea how long today's insane political dynamic had existed. Scoblic analyzes complex situations and presents compelling narratives. Read morePublished on June 12, 2014 by Allison Dillon
Peter Scoblic does a good job of detailing the conservative ideology and it's effect on foreign policy since World War II. Read morePublished on February 6, 2011 by J.L. Populist
First off, start by reading the 1 star reviews. No, seriously... I will wait for you.
Now, after reading them, you'll have a clue what this book is about. Read more
This book is a must read for anyone under fifty who wants to understand the conservative movement better. Don't be misled by the reviews. Read morePublished on May 18, 2009 by Amazon Customer
I saw this book in Costco yesterday, and was intrigued, so I opened it up randomly in the middle. There was something about the mid-1990s, and I was more interested in what the... Read morePublished on May 9, 2009 by Anthony
I've read about 70 pages of this book, and I probably won't finish it. It's an interesting subject and thesis, but the author writes 2 pages of text when a paragraph would do. Read morePublished on October 17, 2008 by Mike in Monterey
This book indicts the 'conservative' movement for ruining U.S foreign policy and in the process ascribes all sorts of things to 'conservatives' that are either half truths or... Read morePublished on October 5, 2008 by Seth J. Frantzman
As a polemic, this book is fairly typical. Conservatives have done everything wrong and liberals and "realists" (as if the two are the same) have done everything, or at least... Read morePublished on July 29, 2008 by Mike
Peter Scoblic's US vs Them provides a thorough and highly readable overview of conservative foreign policy, accessable for IR-"novices" and providing some fresh interpretations for... Read morePublished on July 14, 2008 by L. Martin