The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War
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The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  428 ratings  ·  49 reviews
In this provocative book, Andrew Bacevich warns of a dangerous dual obsession that has taken hold of Americans, conservatives, and liberals alike. It is a marriage of militarism and utopian ideology--of unprecedented military might wed to a blind faith in the universality of American values. This mindset, the author warns, invites endless war and the ever-deepening militar...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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James
Excellent. As a sequel to his previous work American Empire, written in light of the Iraq invasion and its disastrous aftermath, this is a passionate indictment of a dangerous trend in American culture, society, and government. Bacevich only touches lightly on the analogy between the U.S. and Rome, to which others have addressed whole books. However, when he does he makes the critical point that the transformation from a citizen-soldier military in which all classes of society served to the All-...more
Larry Bassett
The book is short: 226 pages plus footnotes. But it is packed with ideas and information. It is not a book to read casually; it demands your full attention. Bacevich looks at how the U.S. has fallen into the habit of seeing the military as the solution to all world problems. A graduate of West Point and a Vietnam veteran, he is not anti-military but says things have gotten out of control.

Bacevich argues against the uber-superiority that seems to be the goal of the military. He decries military o...more
Corey Rowe
this dude manages to blame everybody from carter to reagan, evangelists to flower children, neocons and bleeding libs-and somehow stays true to his claims that he is a conservative. but best of all, after telling us why we suck (and proving very well that we do) he offers solutions that can't be labeled as unrealistic/idealistic. he's ex-military. ppl say he's jaded because his son was killed in iraq, check your dates and grow some sympathy, his son died 2 years after publication. he's just smar...more
David
This book is a good study of how America has come to disproportionately rely on military prowess throughout the globe for our safety and comfort. I previously read Bacevich's The Limits of Power (2008) which has a broader focus. This book, written in 2005, focuses exclusively on the military. Where others blame George W. Bush for the direction the American military took after 9/11, Bacevich shows that America was already on this path decades prior to Bush. Rather than starting something new, Bus...more
Joseph Stieb
By now I'm hoping to get through all of Bacevich's books. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but he has an undeniable talent for putting seemingly disparate pieces together in a convincing narrative. The basic argument is that militarism has saturated numerous aspects of our culture and foreign policy, leading to a foreign policy that uses the military reflexively but not very effectively. This militarism has combined with utopian ends about reshaping the world along American lines and i...more
Ryan
Excellent. I partly expected this to be a ranting polemic, but it wasn't at all. Bacevich makes a well structured, thorough, thoughtful argument about a complex phenomenon and doesn't try to oversimplify the issues or vilify ideological opponents. This is a very good book, and I think it's worth reading if you care about foreign policy or civil-military relations, even if you think you're likely to disagree with it.
Ryan
Jul 10, 2007 Ryan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone concerned with the future of our country.
Bacevich takes the specter of American militarism and deals with it with an even hand. He definitely points out the dangers very clearly, but gives logical reasoning behind the history of the problem. The rationality and evenhandedness is something that i've seen all too rarely on such a touchy subject.

Highly recommended.
Nick
Prof. Bacevich offers coherent, systematic insights into why American citizens accept every larger defense expenditures as well as wars (by any other name) that are not in defense of the nation. He also offers ten suggestions about approaches to remedying our fascination with all things military. Essential reading, I believe.
Scottnshana
I think that Andrew Bacevich may currently provide some of the best—certainly the most readable—civil-military analysis available right now. In this particular book he admonishes the reader early on that when looking at national military and governmental problems the ad hominem attack—a.k.a. blaming a particular president—isn’t helping; it’s more effective to examine the national climate. For example, I would offer, people have been blaming LBJ for Viet Nam my entire life, but if you drill deepe...more
A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Status quo, according to an old joke, is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” Andrew Bacevich—a retired U. S. Army colonel turned historian of international relations—dissects the status quo in this wide-ranging, erudite book and concludes that we are, as a nation, very deep in a very serious mess of our own making.

The mess has been decades in the making, and both political parties—along the public—bear a measure of responsibility for it. It is rooted in the Wilsonian ideal of using American power to...more
Steven Peterson
Andrew Bacevich, a military veteran and self-described conservative, has written a hard-hitting, though-provoking work. His very first paragraph lays out what is at stake in this book (p. ix): "This is a book about the new American militarism--the misleading and dangerous conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions that have come to pervade the American consciousness and that have perverted present-day U. S. national security policy." He goes on, in the introductory comments, to note...more
May
Bacevich's work is a compelling argument American Militarism. It does a good job of showing how the "Militarism" which is taken for granted as "the way it is" is actually an oddity given the history of this nation and it's founding forefathers.

Some notes:
1) Weinburger Doctrine - Specified tests as preconditions for putting American troops in harms way. He would have this test be put toward all military action post-cold war in the middle east
2) The thematic of War as ugly or as a last resort vs...more
Mike Hankins
Andrew Bacevich has developed a reputation for his loud critique of American foreign policy and militarism. The New American Militarism forms one of the keystones of his body of work. Originally published in 2005, and updated in 2013, the work argues that America has become fascinated with military power, using it to secure its own utopian goals across the globe. Originally a reaction to failure in Vietnam, American militarism grew through the remainder of the twentieth century, spurred on by gr...more
Wanda
I really wanted to like this book, because I am a staunch non-interventionist and wish we could have an amendment to our constitution similar to Article 9 of the Japanese constitution or Article 11 of the Italian constitution. I absolutely despise people like Michael Ledeen, who is quoted as having said around the time of the Iraq invasion, "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean bus...more
Matt Riddle
Excerpts:

Although politicians make a pretense of revering that document [the U.S. Constitution:], when it comes to military policy they have long fallen into the habit of treating it like a dead letter. This is unfortunate. Drafted by men who appreciated the need for military power while also maintaining a healthy respect for the dangers it posed, the Constitution in our own day remains an essential point of reference.

Nothing in that compact, as originally ratified or as subsequently amended, co...more
Todd Martin
Several decades after Vietnam, in the aftermath of a century filled to overflowing with evidence pointing to the limited utility of armed force and the dangers inherent in relying excessively on military power, the American people have persuaded themselves that their best prospect for safety and salvation lies with the sword.
– Andrew Bacevich (The New American Militarism)

In the past, when faced with military conflict, the US ramped up the war machine in response to the threat. Once the conflict...more
Rachel Hillen
A well reasoned and superbly researched book detailing how America's view of war has changed since the end of World War I. It details how we went from viewing war a last resort, to a negotation tactic and finally as a tool for spreading American ideal across the globe. It will not be easy for proponents of the current war to brush aside Bacevitch as another liberal alarmist. He is a West Pointe graduate and Vietnam veteran who has contributed to both the National Review and the Weekly Standard....more
John
During the War in Iraq when things were reported to be going from bad to worse, I asked a prominent U.S. Senator why we had gone into Iraq. He replied you had to be in Washington during September 11th to understand why we were in Iraq. I remember the parade of generals and other members of the national security establishment that made the rounds of investment bank conferences from September 11th to the invasion of Iraq, explaining to the luncheon audiences that we must go to Iraq, then possibly...more
Spencer Willardson
The first half of this book was much more convincing than the last half. Bacevich does a good job of describing the causes of militarism in the U.S. case. However, the prescriptions that are made to combat these tendencies fall short.

I think that the mere fact that Bacevich identifies the issue and the potential problems of it is an extraordinary piece of work, but the work in figuring out how to unring the bell of militarism in society, policy, and expectations is much more difficult and will r...more
Josh Liller
I heard about this book in a couple places then picked it up when I saw it on my library's bookshelf. I was a little uncertain about reading it and after the first chapter I wasn't sure if I would finish it. It got put down and picked up several times as higher priority books got in the way. But in the end I did finish it.

This isn't a bad book, but it is a little erratic. Some parts were fascinating, some parts dull. A few parts, particularly that first chapter I mentioned, felt depressing. But...more
Gabriel
Bacevich is making the case that the United States's global policing of the world and/or reshaping the world in the image of the United States (capitalistic econoimic system and democratic government)began during Woodrow Wilson's presiedency.

The author makes very salient points on how the American militry complex has arrived at it's current state. This book has made me revise my current opinion of Geoerge W. Bush's role in are current foreign policy predicament and war on terror. I will know lon...more
TalonWyrm
I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction, though I attempt to read it often. The writing is dense - Bacevich is obviously an academic, and his language shows it. This was a tough slog.

That said, the book is impeccably researched, documented, and logically thought-out. His arguments are sound, and his solutions are practical and useful. While it may have taken me most of a year to read it, it was worthwhile.

I don't think his suggestions will ever take root (we're too entrenched in the status quo to do a...more
Krissy
Essentially Bacevich focused on four things: 1. The US not resizing its armed forces after the end of Vietnam, which it had done in all previous wars. 2. How the religious right was formed [when Carter didn't move to action in what they felt they wanted done, they flipped over from supporting liberals on the left to being the religious right] & the influence they have/exert. 3. That there are really four world wars that have occurred and not just the two that history mentions. 4. And finally...more
Tim
This was an excellent book that vividly describes the current militaristic views of today's America. If more people read this book and fully understood the conflicts that America is "dragged" into. Regardless of your own political alignment, do yourself a favor and read this book.
Kristen Lemaster
This book proves just how interwoven war and American society are through numerous examples, quotes, and historical metaphors. At times he can be redundant, mostly because he'll write something one way but later find a more clever way of saying it and write it in that way, too, but nonetheless he really drives his points home. No one administration is blamed; instead we all get an equal share in the guilt. Yet he seems more optimistic and pragmatic than Chalmers Johnson, given that in the last s...more
The American Conservative
'“Militarism” will sound harsh to many, hysterical to some, but this superb screed makes a depressingly good case. It is not just another shrill polemic, although it is a polemic in the best sense of the word. Eloquent, wry, sober, deftly cutting, with undertones of anger, sadness, and hope, Bacevich writes like Paul Fussell with a political sensibility. Whatever exaggeration of the problem there may be is just the right amount to drive the point home.'

Read the full review, "The Lure of Military...more
Luther Wilson
A thorough account of our society's relationship to the military. Mr. Bacevich served in Vietnam, stayed afterwards in the officer corps, then earned his PhD in History from Princeton. (Which is to say he knows what he's talking about). He's also a damn good writer, in my opinion.

One of the jacket reviews says that "every thoughtful American should read this book". I guess that would be good -- even if nothing changed, at least we would have a better idea of what the hell is going on.

Anyway fo...more
Sam Snideman
I really liked the book. It's a pretty good history, in that it's well-researched and well-sourced. It also makes a pretty compelling argument as to how America is developing into more of a militarized society. The last chapter contains some pretty standard realist and libertarian foreign/security policy arguments as to how the US can reverse this militarism and re-orient foreign policy to be more in-line with America's founding principles. I'd highly recommend it to anyone.
Brian Hollandsworth
The book provided an interesting perspective about how our country has romanticized the idea of war while minimizing the other tools to help shape national policy. I don't necessarily agree with all of the author's assertions, but I do appreciate the thought-provoking concepts.
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Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He is the author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism and The New American Militarism. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York...more
More about Andrew J. Bacevich...
The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy The Short American Century: A Postmortem

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