It is a remarkable twist in history that over a period of 30 years the only full-fledged military campaigns waged by the United States have been initiated by a father and son―the two presidents Bush. Yet rather than representing a continuity in American policy, the wars launched by the Bushes have revealed a vast chasm between those who believe the New World should stand as a beacon for global freedom, and those who think that America should be its unilateral enforcer. In The Wars of the Bushes: A Father and Son as Military Leaders, military historian Stephen Tanner describes the four major military conflicts launched by the presidents Bush. After a brief description of America’s military experience from Vietnam to the end of the Cold War, he begins his in-depth examinations with the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War, which were launched by Bush the elder. Both were characterized by decisive, overwhelming force, matching military capability to geopolitical goals with decisive results. Having positioned America as the moral, as well as military, leader of the world, Bush the elder also cushioned the collapse of the Soviet Union with diplomacy rather than warfare, an achievement that may have been his greatest triumph. In Bush the son, Tanner has found it difficult to recognize the father, though acknowledging that while the former was greeted by the fall of the Berlin Wall in the first autumn of his presidency, the latter was greeted by the fall of New York’s Twin Towers, an altogether more frightening event. But while the father built upon his opportunities to position America at the head of a global alliance, the son has adopted novel doctrines such as pre-emption and pre-eminence, which have left the United States shorn of world support. Standing apart from other analysts, Tanner criticizes the American war in Afghanistan as a timid failure, in which Bush the younger claimed a hollow victory while allowing the leadership of the Taliban, and most importantly, Al Qaeda to escape. He then examines the long build-up to the invasion of Iraq, during which the younger Bush divested himself of the worldwide respect earned by his father in order to prosecute a war that had nothing to do with 9/11. The great WMD scare of 2002 is described in all its propagandistic intensity, as well as Americ’as ensuing invasion and occupation. In Iraq, according to Tanner, the United States has undertaken its first war in which it creates more enemies than it can destroy. The Wars of the Bushes provides a juxtaposition between the father’s vision of America’s role in the world and the son’s. On the one hand stood the world’s sole remaining superpower as an admired nation on the cusp of a Pax Americana, and on the other, now in the 21st century, we stand as the mistrusted head of a disparate Coalition of the Willing. Between the two Bush presidencies, the Clinton years are also examined in these pages, for all their fascination. As the American armed forces currently fight their longest, bloodiest war since Vietnam―unwisely, as then, attempting to subdue an older, foreign culture―this book provides a valuable perspective by comparing the presidencies of two men related by blood but not by experience and character, or in a shared view of America’s unique qualities. In The Wars of the Bushes, Tanner posits that the United States has recently taken a detour along its path to true greatness. But the solution is clear, he believes, and to solve the problem Bush the son need only look back slightly in history―to the surehanded grasp of American policies and principles that were once held by his father.
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Stephen Tanner is the founder of Sarpedon Publishers, one of America's foremost history publishing houses during the 1990's. Since turning to writing in 2000 Tanner has authored five books. He currently lives in Rockville Centre, New York.Review:
...an informed, sophisticated and subtle book, rich in anecdote and laced with a veteran military historian's sardonic doubts of the credulity that amateurs bring to warfare. Tanner dissects the apocalyptic language in which George W. Bush defines (or misdefines) American strategic interests ...anyone in search of a sober take on our current military enterprises should read this brilliant book. (Edwin Yoder, The Washington Post)
... argues convincingly, in commonsensical prose, that to restore its credibility in the region the United States must return to Bush senior's multinational approach, focus resources on al Qaeda, and bring a just and equitable peace to the people of Israel and Palestine. A timely study; highly recommended for all collections. (Library Journal, 2004)
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