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Unintended Consequences: The United States at War
“The United States does not do nation building,” claimed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld three years ago. Yet what are we to make of the American military bases in Korea? Why do American warships patrol the Somali coastline? And perhaps most significantly, why are fourteen “enduring bases” being built in Iraq? In every major foreign war fought by United States in the ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 25th 2007 by Reaktion Books
(first published March 14th 2007)
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The theme of this book, written by a pair of military historians, is that the wars fought by the US throughout its history have had consequences far different -- and much worse -- than those intended.
A few examples:
* The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 was intended as a land-grab from Mexico, but ended up upsetting the delicate balance of slave-holding and free states and triggered the Civil War a few years later.
* The entrance of the US into the First World War was intended to bring about vi ...more
The authors did a poor job of arguing their thesis: that unintended consequences were unpredictable and/or unforeseeable, and thus war is folly; because many of the "unpredictable" examples were indeed predicted and foreseen, such as the problems arising from slavery discussed on p. 30 in Chapter 1. Their scholarship also seems to be poor: in Chapter 3, they attribute the precedent of regime change to General Scott and his occupation of Mexico City; however, this precedent had clearly been estab ...more