U.S. vs. Them
Conservatism in the Age of Nuclear Terror
By J. Peter Scoblic
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143115106, 368pp.)
Publication Date: March 31, 2009
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A challenging, clear-eyed, and authoritative history of American conservatism and its grave effect on our country's foreign policy
In this compelling and sometimes alarming analysis, J. Peter Scoblic, executive editor of The New Republic, traces the history of American foreign policy and how it has evolved from the Cold War conservatism of the 1950s to today. The belligerence, intransigence, and disinclination for diplomacy that mars the right wing once brought us to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. More recently it has failed to meet the post-9/11 challenges posed by Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Scoblic argues forcefully that the only way to face these new threats practically and seriously is by adopting an approach exactly opposite to that suggested by conservatism. By diagnosing the origins of Bush's foreign policy, U.S. vs. Them illuminates the path to renewed American leadership in the twenty-first century as the most serious danger ever faced looms before us: nuclear terrorism.
"Intellectual history at its best. . . . A shocking and even sordid tale told with calm logic and clear prose. Every informed citizen should pick up this book-but the next president should not occupy the Oval Office without first reading U.S. vs. Them."
-Kai Bird, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winner American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
"...an incisive intellectual history of conservatism...Scoblic argues convincingly that conservative foreign policy...has increasingly undermined American security, most strikingly in the area of nuclear proliferation, where the Bush administration's bellicosity has spurred a new arms race among nonnuclear powers."
--The New York Times
"A terrifying glimpse of the persistent tendency of one militant strand of conservatism to pursue conflict over peace, arms race over arms control, and ideology over pragmatism. His analytic history is particularly strong in revealing how, in a world of uncontrolled forces, conservatives sought to impose complete control, whether by pursuing technological fixes (like a nuclear missile shield) or treating U.S. security as if it were something that could simply be willed."
--Samantha Power, The New York Review of Books
"Scoblic has written a deeply researched, highly readable, and compellingly argued account of strategic debates and foreign policy decision-making from the 1950s to the present. Even arms control veterans will find fresh insights and provocative interpretations. U.S. vs Them should be read not only by those unaware of our nuclear history, but by the new cadre of policymakers who will soon take the helm in Washington."
--Arms Control Today
"The shelves are already bulging with books about George W. Bush's disastrous foreign policy-- where it went wrong, how to steer things right. Yet space should be made for J. Peter Scoblic's U.S. vs Them."
--The Washington Post