January 13, 2012


Lloyd C. Gardner, Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II (New York & London: The New Press, 2009) (From the bookjacket: The book "is the first history of America's efforts to supplant the British Empire n the Middle East, during and following World War II. From F.D.R. to L.B.J., this is the story of America's scramble for political influence, oil concessions, and a new military presence based on airpower and generous American aid to shaky regimes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Iraq." "Marshaling new and revelatory evidence from the archives, Gardner deftly weaves together three decades of U.S. moves in the region, chronicles the early efforts to support and influence the Saudi regime (including the creation of Dhahran air base, the target of Osama bin Laden's first terrorist attack in 1996), the CIA-engineered coup in Iran, Nasser's Egypt, and finally, the rise of Iraq as a major petroleum power." "Here, the tangled threads of oil, U.S. military might, Western commercial interests, and especially the Israel-Palestine question are visible from the very beginning of 'The American Century'--a history with frightening relevance for the distant prospect of peace and stability in the region today.").

Lloyd C. Gardner & Marilyn B. Young, eds., Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn from the Past (New York & London: The New Press, 2007) (From the bookjacket: "By closely examining how our policy makers have failed to understand the history of our wars, relations with allies and antagonists, military strategies and capabilities, and thus the nature and limitations of presidential and American power, leading historians . . . demonstrate that Rumsfeld had it right when he noted that 'the biggest problem we've got in the country is people who don't study history anymore.' Rumsfeld was wrong about who those people are" (italic added).).

Michael H. Hunt, The American Ascendancy: How the United States Gained and Wielded Global Dominance (Chapel Hill: U. of North Carolina Press, 2007) (From the bookjacket: "A simple question lurks amid the considerable controversy created by recent U.S. policy: what road did Americans travel to reach global preeminence? Taking the long historical view, Michael Hunt demonstrates that wealth, confidence, and leadership were the key elements in America's ascent. In an analytical narrative that illuminates the past rather than indulging in political triumphalism, he provides crucial insights into the country's problematic place in the world today." "Hunt charts America's rise to global power from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to a culminating multilayered dominance achieved in the mid-twentieth century that has led to unanticipated constraints and perplexities over the last several decades. Themes that figure prominently in his account include the rise of the American state and a nationalists ideology and the domestic effects and international spread of consumer society. He examines how the United States remade great power relations, fashioned limits for the third world, and shaped our current international economic and cultural order." "America's eventual dominance on the global stage was not inevitable, Hunt points out. Seen from a historical perspective, the process depended on multiple pieces coming together in a complex mosaic. As the heir to the great nineteenth-century European powers, the United States constructed a strong central government with a powerful military and expansive international ambitions. It learned to promote and mange globalization and to sponsor an economic and social modernity that left a deep imprint on peoples everywhere." "Hunt concludes by addressing current issues, such as how durable American power really is and what options remain for America's future. His provocative exploration will engage anyone concerned about the fate of this republic." In reading this book, one cannot help wonder how those American politicians who advocate both a smaller Federal government and a strong military power with global reach will be able to square the circle and reconcile the two.).