Bacevich, Andrew J., Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010) ("Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time not the inclination. All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility" Id. at 1. "George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition. Claims that once seemed elementary--above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes of American power--now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found an ostensibly peace-loving nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended 'global war on terror' without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords. During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the worldview to which I had adhered as a young adult and carried into into middle age dissolved completely." Id. at 10-11. "[The] postwar tradition combines components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all by disappeared from view." "The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing these norms. Call this the American credo. . . ." Id. at 12. "The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order altogether. The United States has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service professionals. Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S military policy and practices does reveal important elements of continuity. Call the the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism." Id. at 14. "Together, credo and trinity--the one defining purpose, the other practice--constitutes the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and police the American Century. The relationship between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's vast requirements and exertions. Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy regardless of which political party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House. From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that consensus has remained intact. It defines the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules." Id. at 14-15. Also see Gary J. Bass, "Endless War," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 9/5/2010.).
Beinart, Peter, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris (New York: Harper, 2010) (From the book jacket: ". . . Peter Beinart tells a tale as old as the Greeks--a story about the seduction of success. Beinart describes Washington on the eve of World War I, Vietnam, and Iraq: three moments when American leaders decided they could remake the world in their image. Each time, leading intellectuals declared that history was over, and the spread of democracy inevitable. Each time, a president held the nation in the palm of his hand. And each time, a war conceived in arrogance brought untold tragedy." "So where does ambition end and hubris begin? There's no formula for answering that. In fact, the belief that you've discovered a formula that works in all situations is itself a sign that you've crossed the line. To some degree, foreign policy is all about deciding in which direction you'd rather be wrong. Are you so intent on making sure America doesn't fly too high that you oppose not only invading Iraq, but saving Kuwait? Are you so determined to avoid flying too low that you support not merely World War II but Vietnam? Barely anyone will be right every time, because the gods don't speak to us. Or, as Warren Buffett has said about investing in a bull market, it's like Cinderella at the ball. She knows that if she stays too late her chariot will turn into a pumpkin and her gown will turn to rags. But she doesn't want to leave too early and miss meeting Prince Charming. The problem is that there are no clocks on the wall." Beinart's discussion of several types of American hubris--'the hubris of reason,' 'the hubris of toughness,' and 'the hubris of dominance'--are analytically helpful. Id. at 6. See George Packer's review, "Air America," The New Yorker, 6/28/2010; as well as Leslie H. Gelb, "In Our Image," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 6/13/2010.).
Bunker, Nick, Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History (New York: Knopf, 2010) ("On both sides of the Atlantic we have come to look upon the Mayflower, its voyage, and what followed as an entirely American story. We think of it simply in the light of what happened later, in the vast space between Quebec and California, making it solely a matter of American concern. This is an illusion: not a very damaging illusion, as illusions go, but an illusion nonetheless. The truth is that after the Pilgrims landed in America, on or near the boulder called Plymouth Rock, events on the western side of the Atlantic unfolded in intricate counterpoint with those taking place on the old side of the same ocean." "If we allow this dual narrative to run its course, before and after the Mayflower, then suddenly the picture changes. In high relief, we see the contours off a new map of the origins of Puritan America. As for the Pilgrims themselves, we discover that they were not quite the people we thought they were. 'America' did not exist in 1620, and the Pilgrims were never Americans, but neither were they 'English' in any simple. modern definition of the word." Id. at 20. Also see Russell Shorto, "Founding Entrepreneurs," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 5/23/1010.).
Brands, H.W., American Dreams: The United States Since 1945 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2010) ("Americans have been dreaming since our national birth. We dreamed of liberty, equality, and happiness. We dreamed of prosperity for ourselves and our children. We dreamed we would save our souls and save the world. We didn't all dream the same dream, or at the same time, for the American dream included the right of the individual dreamers to design their own. The dreams weren't always sunny and hopeful; some were darkly forbidding. But they all drew America consistently forward, enticing us toward the horizon of the future." "Never were America's dreams more potent and beguiling than at the end of World War II. . . ." "But the dreams began to waver and lose focus almost at once. . . ." Yet the dreaming persisted. If anything, there was more dreaming than ever. . . . Americans in 2010 were collectively less confident than their grandparents had been in 1945 that reality would favor their dreams; the world was catching up to America, and the bill for all the previous dreaming was coming due. But the moral foundation of America's dreams had always been the right to dream, and Americans weren't about to surrender that." Id. at ix-x. The line separating a mere dream from a nightmare is a very dull line. "If anything epitomized the waning of America's economic supremacy, it was the gas lines and lower speed limit. Gas shortages were unAmerican, something people in other countries endured but not citizen of the United States. And Americans were used to being in a hurry and driving fast. The shortages didn't persist; the Arab producers lifted their embargo in March 1974, and the lines and rationing disappeared. But the new structure of supply and demand remained, and so did the high price and lower speed limits." Id. at 196. "If [the Baby Boomers] reflected on their place in history . . . they might have noticed an odd inversion in the nature of American dreams during their lifetimes. The dreams of 1945 had collectively ambitious but individually modest; those of 2010 were collectively modest but individual ambitious. Collectively, the country in 2010 seemed troubled in several fronts, and its dreams were curtailed commensurately. The nation that had put sixteen million soldiers in the field during World War II now had difficulty finding a few hundred thousand to garrison Iraq and Afghanistan. The economic dynamo that had dictated to the global economy at Bretton Woods now labored under a debt that left the dollar at the mercy of central bankers in China and Japan. Proud industrial cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo, whose factories had rescued democracy during the war, rebuilt Europe afterward, and made middle-class dreams of fifty million families possible, had become pale shadows of their former selves. The political system that had designed a Great Society, one to make America the envy of the world, agonized over guaranteeing medical care that much of the rest of the world had long taken for granted. Bretton Woods, the Marshall Plan, the Great Society--those were dreams of another age; the nation in 2010 could aspire to nothing grand." "And yet Americans individually often dreamed more ambitiously than at any time in the country's past. . . . " "All of which suggested that the heart of America's dream was the act of dreaming itself. . . ." Id. at 383-384. Perhaps we should just attach ourselves to a collective dream machine so we can collectively dream that the end of the American Dream is now as nears as it appears.).
Burbank, Jane & Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2010) ("Indians' mixed, adaptable economies came under siege when Europeans arrived. Euro-Americans farming was a profoundly territorial operation, much more so than the economy of the Eurasian steppe. Settlers plowed the same field year after year, where Indians had rotated their planted lands. Settlers cut down trees to extend cultivated areas as the soil was depleted; they brought with them domesticated animals that ate up grasses deer and elk had fed on. Both Europeans and Indians overhunted fur-bearing animals to meet the lucrative demands of world markets. These practices profoundly disrupted the ecological balances that Indians had previously both exploited and preserved." "At the end of the Seven Years' War, European inhabitants of the areas won from the French were absorbed as subjects into the British polity even though most were Catholic; Indians in these regions, on the other hand, did not acquire the status of subject but were proclaimed to be under the king's 'protection.' Indians did not have the same rights to land as anyone else: they had a claim to use it. West of a line crossing the Appalachian Mountains, adjusted several times, Indians could transfer land only to the government--which reserved to itself the right to allow or disallow settlement and sale to European farmers. Allegedly protecting the Indians against settler encroachment, the 1763 settlement defined Indians outside of a society and polity in which ownership of property and the right to dispose of it were central." Id. at 257-258. "The United States became united in part out of fear of other empires. The new polity declared equality as its foundation but did not extend it to all on the territories it claimed and conquered. American empire destroyed and marginalized indigenous communities and could not resolve the tensions between 'slaves' and 'free' states short of civil war. Well into the twentieth century, the republic kept native Americans outside the polity and failed to establish equal rights for descendants of slaves. The strong sense of moral community in American ideology allowed a huge empire that spread across a continent and eventually overseas to play own its imperial history an conceive of itself as a single large nation, divided into federated states that has a measure of self-rule but were equivalent to one another." Id. at 447-448. From the book jacket: "Empires--vast states of territories and peoples united by force and ambition--have dominated the political landscape for more than two millennia. Empires in World History departs from conventional European and nation-centered perspectives to take a remarkable look at how empires relied on diversity to shape the global order. Beginning with ancient Rome and China and continuing across Asia, Europe, the America, and Africa, Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper examine empires' conquest, rivalries, and strategies of domination--with an emphasis on how empires accommodated, created, and manipulated differences among populations." For a collective review of Empires in World History, Empire for Liberty (Immerman title below), and The Rule of Empires (Parson title below), see Charles S. Maier's review essay, "Empire Without End: Imperial Achievements and Ideologies," Foreign Affairs, Volume 89 No. 4 (July August 2010), at 153-159.).
Friedman, Milton and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960 (National Bureau of Economic Research) (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1965) ("True, also, it is often impossible and always difficult to identify accurately the effects of the actions of the monetary authorities. Their actions are taken amidst many other circumstances, and it may not be at all clear whether their actions or some other circumstances produced the results observed. This is equally true of the experiments of physical scientists. No experiment is completely controlled, and most experiments add little to tested and confirmed knowledge about the subject of experiment. It is the rare crucial experiment that throws a flood of light on its subject--a light that blinds us to many less important experiments that were necessary before the one crucial experiment could be made." Id. at 688.).
Hanson, Victor Davis, The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern (New York, Berlin & London: Bloomsbury Press, 2010) ("Two themes resonate throughout the book: the unchanging face of war and the tragic nature of its persistence over the ages. Despite the purported novelty of today's so-called war on terror, and the public furor and controversies that arose over the wars of this new millennium, conflict in the resent age still remains understandable to us through careful study of the past." Id. at xi. "To sum up the Hellenic view of war and the lessons we may earn from the Greeks: Conflict is omnipresent. It is often irrational in nature and more a result of strong emotions than of material needs. Preparedness is more a deterrent than is empathy, understanding, or demonstrations of good intentions. War is sometimes won or lost as much by confidence in one's culture as by military assets themselves. It is often not a question of a choice between good or bad but between bad or worse. And war should be judged moral or immoral by the circumstances in which it breaks out and the conditions under which it is waged, rather than by the fact that violence is employed." Id. at 48-49. "The entrepreneurial genius of Silicon Valley and its epigones, coupled with the engineering and technological savvy of our universities, has ensured space-age weaponry far in advance of anything seen abroad. But the very temptation to constantly evolve and improve this technology has meant that we are now caught in the position of having ever fewer near-perfect arms rather than a plethora of very good weapons that will do. Given the horrors of 1941-43, when prewar disarmament ensured that thousands of American soldiers were killed in substandard tanks and planes, and given American chauvinism that we must be 'best' in the world in terms of our weaponry's performance, it is even harder for war planners to adopt a 'good enough' attitude that would accept munitions far better than those available to our enemies, but not as good as the United States in theory could design and produce, albeit in smaller numbers." "Americans apparently cannot fathom the idea that a ragtag bearded jihadist, without formal education and burdened by seventh-century cultural prejudices, is often in fact an adroit strategic thinker, with an uncanny understanding of American national character, both our strengths and fallibilities. He rightly senses that a roadside bomb and a propane tank can not only take out a four-million-dollar tank but also, more important, cause a level of frustration and demoralization even greater than the material loss. To resolve this paradox of cost and protection, planners will have to find a way to make more weapons more cheaply, while at the same time reducing the requirement for more manpower--and the concurrent rising risk of greater exposure to death and dismemberment. And yet, as we have seen in prior chapters, there is no substitute for manpower on the ground, despite the killing power of new high-tech weaponry." Id. at 151-152. A short, worthy read.).
Immerman, Richard H., Empires for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2010) ("In many respects America, highlighted by the centrality of liberty to its political culture, is exceptional. For that reason the role that Americans' sense of exceptionalism has played in subverting the concept of Empire for Liberty is all the more tragic. Both the architects and supporters of the growth of American empire held that by expanding U.S. territory, influence, and control Americans brought greater liberty to others even as they protected and increased their own. But therein lay an inherent contradiction. If Americans were exceptional, only they could fully appreciate liberty's blessings, constructively contribute to and participate in liberal institutions of government, and recognize that with liberty came responsibility. Non-Americans, whether because of race, religion, 'national character,' or similar attributes, could not. Hence American campaigns to spread liberty inexorably generated conflict with peoples who were insufficiently 'exceptional.' They had to be conquered, subjugated, or worse. An American Empire for liberty became something of an oxymoron." "Until the Global War on Terror, most Americans did not see this tension between America's empire and its commitment to liberty. Most Americans were inner-directed, and focused on pursuing their own lives, livelihoods, and liberties. Unless directly affected, they paid scant attention to external affairs, defined as external to their particular and often parochial circumstances and interest. . . ." Id. at 233.).
Manne, Henry G., The Collected Works of Henry G. Manne, Volume 1: The Economics of Corporations and Corporate Law with a general introduction by Fred S. McChesney, and edited with an introduction by Henry N. Butler (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009) (I am critical of the the tendency in certain corners of the various 'law and economics' approaches to suggest that all (or most) problems in law may be completely understood and, eventually, resolved by appeal exclusively to economics and markets. Economics is certainly a very powerful and useful tool/language for helping clarifying and analyzing issues, and for eliminating suggested solutions which simply will not work. Yet, economics will provide the complete and satisfactory answers to only a very few of the questions and problems addressed by law. The shortcoming is the shortcoming of 'true believers': thinking a particular way is 'THE WAY.' That said, no one can seriously deny the importance of Henry Manne's body of work to legal analysis. Law students interested in corporate law (including mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, securities regulations, etc.) should make themselves familiar with Manne's body of work. From the Manne's article, "Current Views on the 'Modern Corporation", reprinted in this volume: "It may be a gross exaggeration, but it would seem that the single weakest factor in the current intellectual development of a corporate philosophy is the lack of a coherent theory of how corporations should work when they have grown large. And to gain this understanding, it is necessary to learn something of the pressures and forces which have really molded the form as we know it today. . . . It is not enough to say, as Berle did, that the course of corporation legal history has been simply a steady decline in control over corporate powers and management prerogatives. We need to know why that decline took place and what felt need was being answered by each change in the rules. A 'bad man' theory of history is never very satisfying and most often misleading. The need is for a consistent theory of legal and economic history which can give a framework to such a study. Then we will be in a position at least to describe the modern institution, to see its weaknesses and correct them." Id. at 22, 58.).
Manne, Henry G., The Collected Works of Henry G. Manne, Volume 2: Insider Trading edited with an introduction by Stephen M. Bainbridge (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009) ("The fundamental approach of lawyers to issues . . . is quite different from that of economists. The lawyers' approach to most questions reflects the centuries-old tradition of viewing problems in the context of a case or lawsuit, the arena for settling disputes between two live human beings. Indeed , much of the common law (which is most of American law prior to the twentieth century) is the formalization of rules governing individuals in their personal relationships. Perhaps the only important exceptions to this statement in the common law are the archaic rules of real property and the uniquely developed commercial law." "Thus when lawyers, judges, and law professors are faced with issues of broad social or economic consequences, their tendency is to approach the subject with relationships between specific individuals in mind. Their acceptance or rejection of a practice will reflect notion of the fairness of the transaction simply from the point of view of the two individuals involved. It is not difficult to see why lawyers have generally concluded that there is something unfair (primarily in the sense of 'unequal') about insiders with undisclosed good news buying shares from existing shareholders." "Economists think with a different tradition behind them. Theirs is perhaps most scientific of the social sciences. Here the word scientific must connote objectivity and moral detachment, as well as systematic verification of results. Economists tend to view any controversy as reflecting a platonic, ideal conflict. The question for an economist is rarely one of the mutual fairness of a transaction between individual parties, He is not a specialist in matters of individual morality. Fairness ordinarily connotes to economists the propriety of allocation of resources or income among large, distinguishable bodies or groups of individuals. The the economist individuals are a fungible commodity, each substitutable for another. The economist, viewing the issue of insider trading, will ask how all shareholders are affected financially by the practice whether it results in a desirable allocation of resources, and whether the return to insiders reflects a competitive or a monopoly gain." Id. at 10-11. That is, here, a telling, yet misleading characterization of how both lawyers and economists think. Yes, practicing lawyers (and, even here, mainly litigators) and judges think in terms of disputes between specific individuals because, guess what, there is a specific dispute between specific individuals to be resolved. Manne is implicitly referring to lawyers in their capacity as 'attorneys,' i.e., lawyers who are in specific representing representing clients, the courts, etc. In that capacity lawyers-as-attorneys are less engaged in the broader, and perhaps grander, questions of the nature and role of law in society. Yet, lawyers who seriously reflective on legal rules (e.g., the more intellectually inclined of judges, lawyers and law professors), rather than merely applying those rules mechanically, actively contemplate the consequences of actual, alternative, or proposed legal rules as such rules would apply to specific actual disputes, but also to merely hypothetical disputes. That is, any serious minded lawyer, judge, law professor, or law student, engages in an exploration of the contours of a legal rule. They are not being engaged in first-order legal analysis, but second- and third order meta-legal analysis, assessing the rules themselves and the nature of legal rules. Manne's assertion, "Thus when lawyers, judges, and law professors are faced with issues of broad social or economic consequences, their tendency is to approach the subject with relationships between specific individuals in mind," is misleading, if not simply false when generalized. Thinking critically about legal rules goes beyond thinking about how particular rules, statutes, judicial opinions, etc., impact the parties to a particular dispute (or assessing whether the outcome is fair as between those parties). Thinking critically about legal rules requires thinking about the broader implications of those rules, individually and collectively, on all potential disputants and on society as a whole. That is, does the rule tend to promote justice or not. As to "[e]conomists tend[ing] to view any controversy as reflecting a platonic, ideal conflict," is a practice more honored in its breach. Though it is true that economists tend to think of "individuals [as] a fungible commodity, each substitutable for another." Manne is correct on another point, however. From the essay, "Insider Trading and Law Professors": "If [law professors] have a single great responsibility beyond teaching it is to be loyal, competent, and objective critics of the establishment. Political partisanship is more destructive of honest academic endeavor than is everything else." Id. at 309, 311.).
Manne, Henry G., The Collected Works of Henry G. Manne, Volume 3: Liberty and Freedom in the Economic Ordering of Society edited with an introduction by Jonathan R. Macey (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009) (From the essay, "The Political Economy of Modern Universities": "There were significant educational effects that flowed directly from the introduction on a large scale of political forces into the world of higher education. Though the children of wealthier parents gained the advantage of this subsidized education, it was also true that there ceased to be any guiding purpose for these institutions. Especially with the constitutional inhibitions on religious training, the goal of state-operated universities became a matter of considerable uncertainty. We know, of course that the traditional liberal arts education survived in considerable measure. More important, as schools came to thought of as places where one learned a vocation, political pressures pushed schools toward the more 'practical' programs, ones designed to help students earn a living. Even today [that is, 1973], the tradition of humane letters and liberal arts is felt more strongly in the private universities than the public ones. . . . Id. at 185, 171-172. Manne is writing in 1973. Nearly forty years later, the survival of the liberal arts education even in private universities is in serious jeopardy. For a combined review of Empires in World History, The Rules of Empires (see Parson below), and Empires for Liberty (see Immerman below), see Charles S. Maier's review essay, "Empire Without End: Imperial Achievements and Ideologies," Foreign Affairs, Volume 89, no.4 (July/August 2010) at 153-159.).
Meltzer, Allan H., A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 1: 1912-1951 (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2003).
Meltzer, Allan H., A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2, Book 1: 1951-1969 (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2009) (On the yin yang of regulation: "Despite its name, the voluntary credit restraint program required the Board to issue regulations specifying what is permitted. . . . " '[A]s is often the case, regulation created two incentives. One was for the regulated to invent arrangements that avoided the regulation without violating the law. The second was for the regulator to develop exceptions that suited some of its purposes. And of course, the two interacted. New exceptions created potential opportunities to avoid regulation. The Board was asked by Congress to report on or stop particular practices of this kind. One of many examples was the use of branches in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands to attract corporate deposits by paying above regulation Q ceilings. This problem largely ended after June 1970, when some CDs of $100,000 or more became exempt from ceiling rates." Id. at 663.).
Meltzer, Allan H., A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2, Book 2: 1970-1986 (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2009) ("Regulations are often written by lawyers who approach problems and crisis by introducing new prohibitions and restrictions. They have been slow to recognize that markets often respond to regulation by innovating to circumvent the regulation. Government securities funds and money market funds circumvented restrictions on rules that prohibited small buyers from purchasing Treasury bills and certificates of deposit that paid market interest rates. Protection of large banks as 'too big to fail' encouraged mergers and giantism. One justification for deposit rate regulation was protection of thrift institutions that lent on home mortgages. This was a costly error. Markets developed money market funds to circumvent ceiling rates at banks and thrift institutions. Inflation and regulation combined to eliminate most thrift institutions and to force removal of most interest rate restrictions. Taxpayers paid between $120 and $150 billion to cover the losses of failed thrift institutions." Id. at 1220. "Time will pass before lawyers recognize that they must rely more on incentives and less on regulation that prohibit or require action. Market discipline--which often means failures--is a costly way to teach prudent and effective risk management. The principal alternative is effective international agreed incentives. Experience with recent efforts to agree on common rules for risk management that create incentives for stabilizing behavior suggest two major impediments. Lawyers have a large role in regulation: they emphasize command and control. Devising incentives for stability in a global economy is a challenge that economists have not yet accepted." Id. at 1220-1221. I think Meltzer just called lawyers authoritarian control freaks, and harmful and incompetent authoritarian control freaks at that. And, they say that America is a nation of lawyers. Yikes! Who will save us from all them?).
Parsons, Timothy H., The Rule of Empires: Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2010) ("While other scholars and public intellectuals were less bold or dogmatic in promoting an American imperial agenda, a surprising number shared the confidence that imperil methods could restore global stability if applied in conjunction with responsible international institutions. . . ." "This reading of history ignores the essential characteristic of empire: the permanent rule and exploitation of a defeated people by a conquering power. By their very nature, empires can never be--and never were--humane, liberal, or tolerant. Would-be Caesars throughout history sought glory, land, and most important, plunder. This true nature of empire was more obvious in premodern times when it was unnecessary to disguise such base motives. In recent centuries, however, imperial conquerors have tried to hide their naked self-interst by promising to rule for the good of their subjects. This was and always will be a cynical and hypocritical canard. Empire has never been more than naked self-interest masquerading as virtue." Id. at 3-4. "Modern debates over whether the United States was an empire or not overlooked the fact that successive administrations in the nineteenth century followed an inherently nonimperial assimilationist policy in gradually recognizing surviving Native Americans as citizens, albeit as inferior ones. Similarly, emancipation turned former Slaves into Americans of African descent rather than imperial subjects. Alaskans and Hawaians eventually won the same status, but these concessions were not particularly grand or magnanimous. Nevertheless, America's treatment of nonwestern peoples living within its borders was not, by strict definition, imperial. Although they suffered institutional racism and discrimination, by the twentieth century Native Americans, indigenous Hawaiians and Alaskans, and African American were citizens, not subjects. . . ." "The United States' assimilationist policies reinforced its egalitarian self-image, but the ingrained American antipathy toward empire did not prevent the nation from falling victim to the new imperial mania of the late nineteenth century. Although the United States did not take part in the scramble for Africa [WONDER WHY?], President William McKinley's administration could not resist the temptation to take over most of Spain's remaining empire after its victory in the 1898 Spanish-American War. An unabashedly proimperial lobby failed to secure the annexation of Cuba, but McKinley obligingly claimed Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines." Id. at 430.).
Vaisse, Justin, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("[I]t makes no sense to attribute all the failings of the Bush administration to the neocons. To the extent that they did have a voice, however, and a voice that counted, we can try to pinpoint their errors of judgment." "The most surprising of the neoconservatives' errors has to do with the condition under which American power is exercised, a subject that has been one of their central concerns. But perhaps it was precisely because neoconservatism stemmed from a patriotic reaction to the denigration of America and because it enjoyed a victory of sorts and therefore validation with the fall of the Berlin Wall that it was condemned to see the world of the twenty-first century through an overconfident and distorted prism. That prism left the neocons unable to see the limits of America's actual capacity to engineer positive change and its room for maneuver in the world. Or perhaps third-age neoconservatism was merely the intellectual expression of the considerable increase in the relative power of the United States, of the illusion, especially after the intoxicating victory of Afghanistan, that America could do anything. In that case, neoconservative hubris was largely the result of a rationalization of America's position in the international system. After all, the argument that the American empire is 'benevolent' does have merit, at least until it is invoked as a pretext to exempt the United States from rules of prudence and cooperation, or even to ignore the opinions and interests of the rest of the world." "There was no shortage of arrogance in the neocon approach. Intellectual arrogance to begin with, in spite of the movement's origins: whatever became of the law of unintended consequences? . . . It will come to no surprise that conservatives were driven to apoplexy by the insolence and rashness of the neocons, by their readiness to play the role of social engineers and sorcerer's apprentice. Political arrogance was also in abundant supply. 'Lead, and they will follow' was the slogan of the neoconservatives and then of the Bush administration for dealing with allies. But manly, confident assertion of objectives was not enough to persuade the other members of the international community that those objectives were justified, and there were limits to what America could do alone. Military arrogance was also involved: no army has every been better prepared that the American armed forces to destroy a conventional enemy, but it struggled with guerrilla warfare and the challenges of reconstruction. . . . Finally, the cliche that a show of force is enough to convince the enemy to give up or at least respect the superior force--a notion that many neoconservatives shared with other hawks--turned out to be quite naive." Id. at 261-262. Also see Barry Gewen, "Leave No War Behind," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 6/13/2010.).