Stephen R. Graubard has written a tract for our times, a passionate polemic against President Bush's policies and politics, foreign and domestic, and their underlying assumptions.
Reviewing recent events, from the end of the Cold War to the Gulf crisis and its aftermath, Graubard shows how these "success" mask-- but only temporarily-- the intellectual sloth, moral chicanery, and social obtuseness of an administration committed to a politics of illusion. He reveals how our leaders, confronted with a world in transition, have consistently failed to reformulate foreign policy options and reassess domestic goals. He argues that Bush's incapacity -- and Reagon's before him --to anticipate events and prepare for them, and to understand the modern world in all its bewildering complexity, has crippled this country. And, as we approach the close of the century, he calls for our nation --- physically scarred, spiritually deprived, financially embarrassed -- to recommit itself to a politics of reality.
From Publishers Weekly
Graubard, history professor at Brown, is unimpressed with President Bush, especially his performance from early August 1990 to late February 1991 in connection with the Gulf crisis. The author calls it a "nothing war" in that nothing was resolved, which is arguable, and readers may question Graubard's contention that the president's decision to send troops was "hazard-free," that he knew that the Iraqis were militarily impotent and that Bush's main motivation was to create domestic enthusiasm for his reelection in '92. Readers may also quibble with the book's thesis that the president is essentially an amateur with "very little experience" if they recall that Bush served two terms in Congress, was ambassador to the U.N., chief of the U.S. liaison office in China, head of the Republican National Committee, director of the CIA and vice-president of the United States for eight years. The book is strictly for those who regard the current administration as inept and morally bankrupt.
From Library Journal
Historian Graubard has penned an impassioned critique not only of the Persian Gulf War but of the shallowness and illusion-oriented nature of the Reagan White House which taught the then-vice president Bush that foreign policy can be finessed with appropriate rhetoric. Graubard castigates the Washington press corps for being used by the White House and the administration for so shamelessly manipulating journalists. He notes that administration rhetoric was designed to make Bush into a Churchill by making Saddam Hussein into Hitler. Graubard is unrelenting in his criticism of the Bush administration for fighting a war to make the administration look good and leaving Congress on the sidelines. Most damning of all, he castigates the conflict as a war without foundation in the context of today's realities at home and abroad. He sees Bush's "New World Order" speech as more contrived shibboleth than substantive policy. Recommended for all libraries.
- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Stephen R. Graubard is a professor of history at Brown University and editor of Daedalus . He is the author of Burke, Disraeli, and Churchill: the Politics of Perseverance and Kissinger: Portrait of a Mind.