America: A Beacon, Not a Policeman       America: a Beacon, not a Policeman

Book Reviews about American Bombing, World Empire and its Consequences

Americans Against World Empire  Homepage


Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence ;  Buchanan's "Republic not Empire"; "Under Seige" ; "The New Terrorism" by Walter Laqueur; "The Fire This Time," by Ramsey Clark, "Blowback,"  Noam Chomsky, Kagan/Kristol on American Empire & more

The Puzzle Palace & Body of Secrets  Inside the NSA (National Security Agency) by James Bamford

Foreign Policy Folly   review by William Ruger in REASON MAGAZINE
A worrisome conservative strategic vision:     "Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy," edited by Robert Kagan and William Kristol

All that's wrong and evil in Neo-conservative empire wanters views.  A sweeping analysis from Athens to "what F.A. Hayek called the 'fatal conceit' of modern liberalism: 'that man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes.'

Out of the Ashes : The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein
by Andrew Cockburn, Patrick Cockburn   See Amazon review

DETERRENCE AND SECURITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY---   Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence--2 bombs may do, one to prove a nation has them, the second to threaten the great powers-- (see review below)

The Media and the Kosovo Crisis --How the lies were Spread

BLOWBACK (Doug Bandow Review) and   (Short review)--America's Imperialist Overreach--Consequences

Under Seige--The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War by Anthony Arnove, reviewed by Lew Rockwell

THE NEW MILITARY HUMANISM  by Noam Chomsky "the Rogue Superpower...flip side of hi-tech bullying is mad scramble among smaller states to obtain weapons of mass destruction"....."malicious use of American power"

THE NEW TERRORISM  by Walter Laqueur (see below)

THE FIRE THIS TIME--U.S. WAR CRIMES IN THE GULF by Ramsey Clark (see below)

THE IRON WALL    Israel and the Arab World    By Avi Shlaim  Reviewed by Milton Viorst

THE COSTS OF WAR by John Denton   (Essays on the disasters from previous American interventions---highly recommended)


Rethinking Major and Minor Powers' Nuclear Deterrence

China, Britain, France and the Enduring Legacy of the Nuclear Revolution

By Avery Goldstein

Much recent writing about international politics understandably
highlights the many changes that have followed from the collapse
of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. This book, by
contrast, analyzes an important continuity that, the author
argues, will characterize international strategic affairs well into the
twenty-first century:nuclear deterrence will remain at the core of
the security policies of the world's great powers and will continue
to be an attractive option for many less powerful states worried
about adversaries whose capabilities they cannot match.

The central role of nuclear deterrence persists despite the advent of
a new international system in which serious military threats are
no longer obvious, the use of force is judged irrelevant to
resolving most international disputes, and states' interests are
increasingly defined in economic rather than military terms.
Indeed, the author suggests why these changes may increase the
appeal of nuclear deterrence in the coming decades.

Beginning with a reconsideration of nuclear deterrence theory, the
book takes issue with the usual emphasis on the need for
invulnerable retaliatory forces and threats that leaders can
rationally choose to carry out. The author explains why states,
including badly outgunned states, can rely on nuclear deterrent
strategies despite the difficulty they may face in deploying
invulnerable forces and despite the implausibility of rationally
carrying out their threats of retaliation. In the subsequent
empirical analysis that examines the security policies of China,
Britain, and France and taps recently declassified documents, the
author suggests that the misleading standard view of what is
often termed rational deterrence theory may well reflect the
experience, or at least aspirations, of the Cold War superpowers
more than the logic of deterrence itself.

Case studies assessing the nuclear deterrent policies of China,
Britain, and France highlight the reasons why their experience,
rather than that of the more frequently studied Cold War
superpowers, better reflects the strategic and economic factors
likely to shape states' security policies in the twenty-first
century. The book concludes by drawing out the implications of
the author's theoretical and empirical analysis for the future role of
nuclear weapons.

Avery Goldstein is Professor of Political Science at the
University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Asia Program at
the Foreign Policy Research Institute.  Review supplied by FPRI, 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 610, Philadelphia, PA 19102;    Email:


"A REPUBLIC, NOT AN EMPIRE" by Pat Buchanan    

     Of course Buchanan is right about the argument, even once made by Harry Truman, better to have let the Nazis and Communists exhaust themselves.  He's even right that many Jews might have been saved, certainly if there had been a negotiated peace instead on demand for unconditional surrender.  And America did not go to war to fight the Holocaust, in fact refugee Jews were forbidden entry into the United States.  Following is a fair report on the issue from the NEW YORK TIMES, still the best source in the nation for all the news, it may be buried, but they do publish more fairly than nearly anyone else.
30 September 1999
A Fair Reading Of History

Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwartz

Patrick Buchanan has been accused of harboring pro-Hitler sympathies and of
being an isolationist for his interpretation of World War II laid out in a
recent book. But this interpretation is hardly beyond the pale of
respectable discourse. Diplomatic historians have long made similar

In his book, Mr. Buchanan contends that Germany posed no direct military
threat to America until it declared war in December 1941. This statement has
provoked a furious response, yet Mr. Buchanan's argument is hardly novel.

It has long been noted that after the fall of France in June 1940, the
United States decided to allow Britain and the Soviet Union to bear the
brunt of the war effort. As long as Germany fought the British and the
Soviets, both of whom received American arms, America was virtually immune
to attack.

According to Mr. Buchanan, this strategy could be followed precisely because
Germany was not capable of threatening the United States. Numerous scholars
have made this argument, including Bruce Russett, a Yale political
scientist, in his 1972 book "No Clear and Present Danger." Indeed, this
unsentimental and even ruthless approach to foreign policy is identical to
what Harry Truman proposed in 1941. The United States should not fight in
the European conflict, the future President argued. Instead, America should
encourage Germany and Russia to fight one another to exhaustion, thereby
weakening the aggressive totalitarian threats of both Communism and Nazism.

In his book, Mr. Buchanan also argued that Britain and France should not
have extended a security guarantee to Poland in 1939. British historians
have long been divided on whether Britain should have agreed to intervene if
Poland and Germany went to war. Indeed, conservative scholars like David
Dilks and Maurice Cowling, and leftists like A. J. P. Taylor have all argued
that the guarantee effectively took the decision for war out of London's
hands. And they assert that Poland was unnecessary for Britain's security
and, in any event, impossible to defend. Poland could be saved militarily
only if the Soviet Union joined the West against Germany. But from 1939 to
1941, Stalin was allied with Hitler.

Above all else, critics have a moral problem with Mr. Buchanan's argument:
that is, his isolationist views ignore the American obligation to intervene
to end the Holocaust. But the implication that America entered the war to
save the Jews is entirely wrong. The United States intervened only after
Germany declared war. And even during the war, America's goal was not to
save the Jews.

Yes, Mr. Buchanan's approach to history is polemical, not disinterested. His
past criticism of Israel and remarks about Jews affected the book's

But that should not be the reason critics denounce his interpretation of
America's role in World War II. It only makes their statements seem
inflammatory, not his.

Christopher Layne is a visiting scholar at the Center for International
Relations at the University of Southern California. Benjamin Schwarz is a
correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.

THE WANDERER Review of Buchanan Book

John V. Denson, ed., THE COSTS OF WAR--America's Pyrrhic Victories  (Transaction Publishers, 1998)-paperback available, ed by John V. Denson.--a classic history of America's wars by noted authors including Ralph Raico, Samuel Francis, Murray Rothbard, Thomas Fleming, Justin Raimondo, Paul Gottfried. FOR REVIEW


THE NEW TERRORISM  (Oxford, 312 pages, $30) by Walter Laqueur, reviewed by Scott McConnell in the WALL STREET JOURNAL

    In the 70's and 80's Walter Laqueur now reminds us, he warned against exaggerating the dangers of terrorism......and indeed, looking back, it is clear that he was right.  The Red Brigades, Baader Mainhof gang, Carlos the Jackal and other terrorists--despite the misery they caused--achieved nothing of their revolutionary goals.  In "The New Terrorism" Mr. Laqueur tells us that his views have changed, that we need to rethink "our most basic assumptions" about terrorism.   The reason is the theoretical possibility that terrorists will acquire weapons of mass destruction--nuclear, chemical and biological--and thus pose a threat "infinitely greater than it was in the past."......

    Mr. Laqueur is more forthcoming on another ("almost taboo") aspect of the current terrorist threat.  In response to those who stress the peaceful nature of the Muslim faith, he retorts that a majority of toady's violent conflict involve Muslim countries or active Muslim minorities......Probably true.   Again, it would be helpful to have some analysis of what inspires Islam's "holy rage" against the West.

    "Finally, in a work that renders so vivid the prospect that the end of history will not be the triumph of liberal capitalism, but fire and pestilence in major cities, one wishes that more had been said about how to avoid such a fate......there remains a dearth of serious discussion about what the new threats imply for America's global strategy.

    "There is a growing belief--originating on the libertarian right, but now making its way into other political affiliations--that Washington's global interventionism has magnified the chances that a U.S. city will become the target of mega-terrorism.  Recent American military successes----have stirred up tides of resentment....our broader diplomatic conduct may provoke attacks that can't easily be defended against."

The New Miliary Humanism by Noam Chomsky


The Fire This Time - U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf ---  Book Excerpts on Line

by Ramsey Clark       Reviewed by Barry Goodman

This was the most comprehensive account of the devastation upon the
infrastructure, property and civilian population of Iraq. There is a
detailed legal analysis by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
as to the specific war crimes committed against the people of Iraq. He
observed first-hand the violations of law and magnitude of the
destruction resulting from the war. Chapter 9, entitled "Crimes Against
Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity," itemizes the
violations of international law. These crimes are acts in violation of the
Charter of the United Nations (Articles I & II); Part IV, Section 22 of
the Hague Conventions of 1899, revised in 1907, Charter of the
Nuremberg Tribunal 1950, No. 82 and Protocol I of 1977
to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (Part IV Articles 48, 51, 55, 56
& 57)
. Chapter 3, entitled "War Crimes Against Iraq's Civilian
Population" describes the targeting of infrastructure and life support
systems, the bombing of cities and highways, and the devastation of
the Amariyah Civilian Bomb Shelter. Explicit crime victim accounts
and interviews depict the tragedies on a deeply human level. The legal
analysis is presented by one most qualified to do a legal analysis, the
former United States Attorney General, Ramsey Clark. Michael
Ratner, former director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and
past president of the National Lawyer's Guild presents an additional
legal analysis of International law and war crimes. The book has
extensive references and led me to many other related printed and
Internet legal research sources. Complete Book
Guns for Peace: Zionism's Passion for Security
By Milton Viorst

Thursday, January 6, 2000; Page C02
Review of
Israel and the Arab World

By Avi Shlaim

Norton. 670 pp. $32.50

Avi Shlaim, a historian who teaches at Oxford, places himself among the "revisionists" in dealing with Israel's relations with the Arab world. His term, insofar as it conveys a departure from conventional Zionist accounts, is accurate. Western readers were long fed honey-coated history in which Israeli statesmen struggled valiantly for peace against villainous Arabs.

This is the view that much of the American Jewish community still embraces, and which for decades has been the basis of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Shlaim leaves no doubt that this perception is largely false. But he faces a problem in coming late to the game. Most careful observers of international affairs long ago dropped the vision of a sainted Israel. Though still benefiting from certain taboos, Israel, like other states, is now subjected to serious critical scrutiny. Shlaim has written an excellent chronicle, coldly honest in examining Israeli practices; but since so much evidence of Israel's moral lapses is already on the record, it can hardly be called "revisionist."

"The Iron Wall" takes its title from two celebrated articles written in 1923 by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the founder and spiritual guide of right-wing Zionism. Before Jabotinsky, Zionism simply dismissed the Arab question. Its sloganeers proclaimed that Palestine was an empty land waiting to be taken over by the Jews. Its more serious thinkers held that Zionism, in bringing prosperity to Palestine, would earn the Arabs' gratitude. Jabotinsky considered such notions nonsense. While promoting Jewish sovereignty over all of Palestine, he had enough respect for the Arabs to know that, far from being passive collaborators, they would fight for their homeland. Jabotinsky rejected the view that Zionism could be realized through diplomacy. The Jews will have their state, he maintained, only by erecting an "iron wall" of Jewish bayonets that would subdue the Arabs in battle.

Though Jabotinsky's followers did not take power until Menachem Begin became prime minister in 1977, his ideas passed in the 1930s into the Zionist mainstream. By then, few Zionist leaders believed that a Jewish state could be established by the goodwill of Western powers. Zionism became an armed movement prepared to settle its disputes, first with the British, then with its neighbors, by force. It is ironic that Jabotinsky had also argued that Israel, after establishing its military superiority, would have to reach a settlement by which Jews and Arabs could live peacefully together. Mainstream Zionism adopted Jabotinsky's commitment to the "iron wall" but has never taken serious measures to reach a reconciliation with the Arabs still fighting for a homeland within Palestine's borders.

Shlaim is at his best in the early years. Israel, he tells us, makes documents available to scholars only after 30 years have elapsed, which explains why the book's freshness gives way to familiar material after the Six-Day War of 1967. For the nonspecialist, this does not matter: Shlaim has produced a powerful overview of 50 years of policy. But even the specialists will be grateful, for it was in the period before 1967 that Israel's militant nature was permanently forged.

Shlaim contends persuasively that, though Israel was already the strongest power in the region, its leaders after independence had no interest in making peace without further weakening Arab military capacity. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, not only rejected Arab peace overtures but also repeatedly provoked Arab governments as a means of undermining their stability.

Moshe Sharett, the one figure in the inner circle for whom peace was a virtue in itself, was hounded out of office, while power gravitated to military leaders, most notably Moshe Dayan, who promoted aggression. A massive raid on the Egyptians in Gaza led inexorably to the 1956 Suez War, while attacks on the Syrians in the north were the prelude to the 1967 war. Even the protests of President Dwight D. Eisenhower were no deterrent. Finally, beginning with Lyndon Johnson, Washington seems to have thrown up its hands in frustration, letting the Israelis do whatever they wanted.

Israel's current generation of leaders has inherited its values from those who shaped the founding of the state. Binyamin Netanyahu, the recent prime minister, was a proclaimed disciple of Jabotinsky, while Ehud Barak, his successor, is in the mold of Ben-Gurion. A Ben-Gurion quotation cited by Shlaim could easily be repeated by Barak. "I am prepared," he declared, "to get up in the middle of the night in order to sign a peace agreement--but I am not in a hurry and I can wait ten years. We are under no pressure whatsoever." Though far more than 10 years have passed, Israel's policy remains much the same. Both Ben-Gurion and Barak, within the Israeli context, are regarded as pragmatists rather than ideologues. But Shlaim makes clear that for both, peacemaking is secondary to the concept of a secure Israel behind an iron wall. Obviously, many Israelis agree with them.

Milton Viorst, the author of "Sands of Sorrow: Israel's Journey From Independence" and several books on the Arab world.

Between the Alps and a Hard Place --American Foreign Policy for Sale.  The indictment against the Swiss (over policies the Allies much appreciated during the war itself) is
masterfully dissected by Angelo Codevilla in his eye-opening Between the
Alps and a Hard Place, an important work that portrays the levers of
American diplomacy rented out to campaign contributors and groups
pursuing private agendas.