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Arsenal of Democracy : The Politics of National Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism
It has long been a truism that prior to George W. Bush, politics stopped at the water's edge--that is, that partisanship had no place in national security. In Arsenal of Democracy, historian Julian E. Zelizer shows this to be demonstrably false: partisan fighting has always shaped American foreign policy and the issue of national security has always been part of our domestic conflicts. Based on original archival findings, Arsenal of Democracy offers new insights into nearly every major national security issue since the beginning of the cold war: from FDR's masterful management of World War II to the partisanship that scarred John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, from Ronald Reagan's fight against Communism to George W. Bush's controversial War on Terror. A definitive account of the complex interaction between domestic politics and foreign affairs over the last six decades, Arsenal of Democracy is essential reading for anyone interested in the politics of national security
Despite its title, this insightful examination of the impact domestic politics has had on American foreign policy actually begins with the Spanish-American war. Zelizer (Taxing America) traces changing attitudes toward foreign engagement through WWI, including Wilson's failed advocacy for the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, and arrives at the cold war era, his principle focus. His key themes are the competition between the Republican and Democratic parties for electoral advantage on issues related to international affairs and the expansion of executive authority that began with the Korean War in the Truman administration and continued intermittently through the George W. Bush era. The author emphasizes foreign policy throughout, devoting mere paragraphs to major domestic events like the Kennedy assassination and the contested presidential election of 2000. Zelizer's excellent analysis concludes with charting the rise and fall of conservative internationalism from Reagan to the election of Barack Obama, advancing a consistently thoughtful, complex and balanced argument about the decisive effect domestic politics has had on the evolution of the national security state. (Jan.)
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December 27, 2009
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