Review: After Iraq–The Imperiled American Imperium

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Iraq

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Amazon Page

Ethical Sanity, Sensible Guidelines,

January 23, 2007
Charles W. Kegley Jr.
I am in Boise, Idaho, where I came to hear Al Gore deliver the single most sensational and sensible lecture I have ever heard in my lifetime. The DVD and the book titled “Inconvenient Truth” do not do him or his message justice.

It was in this context that I discovered that Boise, Idaho is a hotbed of ethical sanity. The Frank Church Institute (sponsor of Al Gore's visit to Boise) and these two authors, one of whom is the Frank Church Professor of International Relations, the other the Corporate Secretary of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, have all of the moral credibility and legitimacy that the Bush-Cheney regime lacks.

I bought this book while visiting Boise State University, and I believe it may well be one of the most important works relevant to recovering from the enormously mis-guided, inept, and corrupt practices that Bush-Cheney have forced upon all of us. As a moderate but estranged Republican, I heartily embrace the solid reasoning of these two authors.

The most important part of the book is the final section that I have marked very heavily. The authors highlight the number of military interventions the US has undertaken, making the important point that Bush-Cheney are not the first to abuse military power, but perhaps the first to do so in such an outrageously ill-conceived manner.

They draw respectfully on historian Niall Fergusson's summary of American interventions and this is worth repeating here:

1. Impressive initial military success
2. Flawed assessment of indigenous sentiments
3. Strategy of limited war and gradual escalation of forces
4. Domestic disillusionment in the face of protracted and nasty conflict
5. Premature democratization
6. Ascendancy of domestic economic considerations
7. Ultimate withdrawal

There you have it. The authors go on to outline “Rules for Rivals” and I will not summarize those–buy the book. The most important observation made by the authors is that if one pays attention to an idea new to me, the Composite Index of National Capabilities (CINC), then one can quickly see that the US pales in comparison to China, and simply does not have the capacity for sustained global warfare in the conventional sense.

The authors outline several characteristics of the emerging collapse of US foreign policy and credibility and effectiveness, not least of which is their proper emphasis on the failure of American education.

This is a very important book, and it deserves to be noticed by the varied book sections, especially the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

As one who can be bombastic at times, I especially admired the manner in which the authors made their case in an even-handed relatively neutral manner. Boise, Idaho is a very sensible place! America would do well to absorb and act on the common sense thinking they are doing here.

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