Authors: Len Colodny and Tom Shactman

Publisher: Harper

ISBN: 978-0-06-125389-8

The Forty Years War is 434 pages of very detailed behind-the-scenes history of American foreign policy from Richard Nixon to the present day. It is not an expose along the lines of Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast which suggests a corrupt economic motivation for war, but focuses on the philosophical and psychological influences that motivated an aggressive approach to foreign policy in order to avoid an international perception of what was termed “provocative weakness” . . . a concept formulated by Fritz Kraemer who was a mentor to students such as Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, among others. The concept is simple: military strength confers political power and any sign of weakness invites aggression from rivals.  The book quotes Presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a believer in “peace through  strength” and in the Epilogue quotes an inspiring passage from Barrack Obama’s Inaugural address:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals . . . those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake . . . Earlier generations faced down facism and communism not just with missiles and tanks but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please . . . Our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint . .  . Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations . . . We will not apologise for our way of life nor will we waiver in its defense.”

These differing views of how best to ensure one’s security are not new in the history of world politics nor restricted to the United States. In fact these two different viewpoints can be compared and contrasted at all levels of human interaction including the conflicts and compromises among individuals in the workplace, among children in school,  in and among families.  By applying an understanding of the psychology of what motivates leaders with the power to make policy, students of history and politics should be able to choose those leaders with more political acumen and insight into the ultimate consequences of competitive rather than cooperative policies on the welfare of all the members of the society.  This book couldn’t have come out at a better time.

Follow Here To Purchase The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons, from Nixon to Obama