This was a very intriguing read, and not a little revealing. I can't deny that, as they identified some of the conditions that seem to encourage dishoThis was a very intriguing read, and not a little revealing. I can't deny that, as they identified some of the conditions that seem to encourage dishonesty, I recognized some of my own tendencies. I admire the way that Ariely could methodically sift out various possibilities through his research (and the creativity involved in establishing research conditions to test different ideas was fascinating to see)....more
I've appreciated Bacevich's perspective since he first started going public in the mid 00s. This book only strengthens my opinion. He strongly supportI've appreciated Bacevich's perspective since he first started going public in the mid 00s. This book only strengthens my opinion. He strongly supports his thesis that the various actions which the US has undertaken in the Middle East over the past few decades comprise one big war which the US has been waging with no concrete goals, no coherent strategy, and no significant understanding of the cultural and ethnic issues related to the conflicts in which US has intervened--indeed, no interest in developing that understanding to apply it to the decision making process. I was particularly intrigued to see that he tied the 90s military actions in the Balkans into the War for the Greater Middle East. I had thought those interventions as being considered largely successful, but Bacevich provides facts to challenge that notion, particularly as they relate to the problems in the Middle East.
Among the information most intriguing about the book are insights into the hidden power struggle between the civilian leadership and military commanders; the way that the intervention in Afghanistan in the 80s was not so much motivated out of concern for the Afghans, but simply a desire to enmesh the Soviets in their own Vietnam; how much of the strategy changes during the war throughout its length has boiled down PR for US public consumption; and the reliance of presidents more ostensibly peacefully inclined on foreign policy professionals whose perspectives are not similarly aligned, and who then push administrations into directions which perpetuate the war. The irony of the two presidents who bookend the war (thus far) are two perhaps most personally inclined towards peace, but who respectively initiated the war, and vastly expanded the war, is not lost on me.
Some of the criticisms of the military leaders who've played big roles in the war seem a bit catty or self-righteous (for example, criticizing Wesley Clark as a band-wagon leader, or pointing out the way Patreus had a history of cultivating relationships specifically with people who could advance his career). No leader (or human) are going to be without their foibles. But I can see the relevance of many of the criticisms to problems with the war effort....more
As usual for Chomsky's works, very insightful. He keenly points out the hypocrisies of US foreign policy, showing copious examples in which US leadersAs usual for Chomsky's works, very insightful. He keenly points out the hypocrisies of US foreign policy, showing copious examples in which US leadership condemns competing nations for actions which US leadership has itself taken in the past, or at the very time. He illustrates well the fact that US foreign policy has been concerned most with the perpetuation of power and isolation "contagion" of resistance to US influence (or control), using particularly the Middle East (especially Iran) and South America (especially Cuba) as examples. The sarcasm is scathing (such as when he points out that Obama, a constitutional lawyer, has done so much to expand drone assassination operations which fly in the face of constitutional principles of due process), but appropriate. There were parts a bit repetitious, but only a minor annoyance....more