Read Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism by Julian E. Zelizer Online

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It has long been a truism that prior to George W. Bush, politics stopped at the water's edge--that is, that partisanship had no place in national security. In Arsenal of Democracy, historian Julian E. Zelizer shows this to be demonstrably false: partisan fighting has always shaped American foreign policy and the issue of national security has always been part of our domestIt has long been a truism that prior to George W. Bush, politics stopped at the water's edge--that is, that partisanship had no place in national security. In Arsenal of Democracy, historian Julian E. Zelizer shows this to be demonstrably false: partisan fighting has always shaped American foreign policy and the issue of national security has always been part of our domestic conflicts. Based on original archival findings, Arsenal of Democracy offers new insights into nearly every major national security issue since the beginning of the cold war: from FDR's masterful management of World War II to the partisanship that scarred John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, from Ronald Reagan's fight against Communism to George W. Bush's controversial War on Terror. A definitive account of the complex interaction between domestic politics and foreign affairs over the last six decades, Arsenal of Democracy is essential reading for anyone interested in the politics of national security....

Title : Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism
Author :
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ISBN : 9780465015078
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 592 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism Reviews

  • Joseph Stieb
    2018-12-02 17:26

    This is a great history of politics' (mainly Congress) role in foreign policy making. The level of detail is just right, and there are some really great in-depth chapter on things like ending the draft, losing China, and missile defense. Possibly the best chapter is on detente, which never managed to gain a domestic political base of support despite fulfilling many US foreign policy goals. Zelizer's thesis isn't revolutionary, but he demonstrates it well: Politics by no means ends at the water's edge. Rather, Dems and Reps have used foreign policy to get an edge on each other and have often gone after each other in vicious ways on foreign policy. This book also shows that the US electorate does pay attention to and care about foreign affairs.Zelizer's much more interesting argument is about the rise and fall of conservative internationalism and liberal internationalism. LI was developed by FDR and evolved throughout the early Cold War before being crushed by Vietnam. LI focused on building a network of multilateral institutions around the world with the US at its head. It pursued collective security and national mobilization for war, which means it backed the necessity of the draft. It was also much more willing to expend American resources for overseas development and even nation-building projects like Vietnam. The Vietnam War, however, discredited LI and caused many liberals to abandon it. Some of them turned to conservative internationalism, and some turned to a more human rights oriented agenda. I wonder if Zelizer thinks that Obama has brought LI back in any ways.Conservative internationalism has a fascinating origin story. The GOP was the hardest party to get on board with the expanded US global role after WWII. They had been the staunchest resistors to FDR's attempts to get the US involved in the war and in the postwar system. The main reason they did become internationalists so quickly is anti-communism, which rallied virtually all of them. They then used anti-communism to bash the Democrats, who then did it right back once Ike became President. This dynamic, which often seemed out of control, pushed foreign policy to the right as a whole and was in part responsible for the Vietnam War. I'd like to have seen Zelizer comment on why the fear of being soft in foreign policy has been so powerful in American politics, but he does a good job showing it at work throughout this time period.The main tenets conservative internationalism are a more unilateral approach, more skepticism of international institutions, a harsher anti-communism, and less willingness to demand sacrifice from the American people, especially in the form of the draft. Conservatives were always wary about the draft because they saw it as a massive infringement on individual liberties and an expansion of gov't power. Nixon's ending of the draft implemented a key aspect of CI, which was asking less of the American people while keeping a forward defense posture. CI went through its greatest crisis under Bush II, when the goals of transforming nations overseas while fighting stretched beyond the means of the AVF and of not raising taxes or a draft. Zelizer's chapter on the Bush administration is fair-minded, but it nevertheless makes an implicit case for the failure of CI and the need to return to LI in some fashion. CI also has many interesting variations. Nixon pursued a version of it by ending the draft, which he believed would give him freer reign to pursue diplomacy around the world, especially with the USSR and China. Reagan pursued CI based on massive defense spending and a more unilateral, confrontational approach to foreign policy. If the book had any weakness it was that Zelizer didn't do much to show how all of these different foreign policies fit under CI, although the reader can still piece together most of the connections.I recommend this book to students of American foreign policy and/or politics. I haven't seen these topics woven together this skillfully thus far. Although it's not a totally original argument, this is an engaging book that gives vivid senses of different personalities and positions in foreign policy and politics.

  • Patrick Sprunger
    2018-11-28 21:25

    Julian Zelizer has compiled comprehensive scholarship of the politics of national security, since 1945. Arsenal of Democracy is not a debate over national security policy, but rather a description of how the hawks and doves reel in the air over Washington. This approach circumvents the pragmatic and ideological arguments behind various security strategies and focuses exclusively on the way those arguments are appropriated and marketed by politicians, specifically the interplay of power and rivalry between the White House and Congress.The author chooses to present his findings in chronological, episodic order that plays to readers' existing knowledge of the national security narrative, from the long telegram through suspension of habeus corpus. Nothing in between is missed. Zelizer covers McCarthyism, Vietnam (and its attendants The Great Society and Watergate), detente, SDI ("Star Wars"), and 9-11 all in turn. In so doing, he demonstrates the unbroken partisan strife that connects the present through to the past, contending that the party who best owns the mantle of "tough on national security" will win power, despite the fact that such toughness tends to become a liability over time. It is a story of cyclical metamorphosis, as parties co-opt the potency of security as a brand to win elections, but fail to prevent the brand from being recast by the opposition. Rather than attack hawkishness as the problem, opposition typically styles its target as a betrayer of the trust. In this way, the mantle of security remains supernaturally charged and is continually chased as a prize. The cycle repeats, ad infinitum.

  • Jason S
    2018-12-12 19:41

    This book very frequently strayed from its thesis with long chapters covering trying to cover the entire history of American foreign policy and politics in the 20th century. While some sections were very interesting (like the discussions of the creation of an all voluntary military), overall the book is written like a textbook. The definition of "neo-conservative" used throughout the book is problematic, as are several key omissions (like the failure to mention the ME Peace Process attempts at the end of the Clinton Administration).