Magic and mayhem

Book Cover
Average Rating
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster,
Pub. Date:
2010.
Language:
English
Description
AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ are the latest in a string of blunders that includes Vietnam and an unintended war with China from 1950 to ’53, those four fiascoes being just the worst moments in nearly a lifetime of false urgencies, intelligence failures, grandiose designs, and stereotyping of enemies and allies alike. America brought down the Soviet empire at the cold war’s most dangerous juncture, but even that victory was surrounded by myths, such as the conviction that we can easily shape the destinies of other people. Magic and Mayhem is a strikingly original, closely informed investigation of two generations of America’s avoidable failures. In a perfectly timed narrative, Derek Leebaert reveals the common threads in these serial letdowns and in the consequences that await. He demonstrates why the most enterprising and innovative nation in history keeps mishandling its gravest politico-military dealings abroad and why well-credentialed men and women, deemed brilliant when they arrive in Washington, consistently end up leading the country into folly. Misjudgments of this scale arise from a pattern of self-deception best described as "magical thinking." When we think magically, we conjure up beliefs that everyone wants to be like us, that America can accomplish anything out of sheer righteousness, and that our own wizardly policymakers will enable gigantic desires like "transforming the Middle East" to happen fast. Mantras of "stability" or "democracy" get substituted for reasoned reflection. Faith is placed in high-tech silver bullets, whether drones over Pakistan or helicopters in Vietnam. Leebaert exposes these magical notions by using new archival material, exclusive interviews, his own insider experiences, and portraits of the men and women who have succumbed: George Kennan, Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Presidents Kennedy, Carter, and George W. Bush all appear differently in the light of magic, as do wise men from Harvard, Georgetown, Stanford, and think tanks such as RAND and Brookings, as well as influential players from the media and, occasionally, the military, including General David Petraeus as he personifies the nation’s latest forays into counterinsurgency.

Magic and Mayhem offers vital insights as to how Americans imagine, confront, and even invite danger. Only by understanding the power of illusion can we break the spell, and then better apply America’s enduring strengths in a world that will long need them.

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ISBN:
9781439125717
9781439125694
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID ef14e351-421c-f3cc-c65b-9a6943c28877
full_title magic and mayhem
author leebaert derek
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2017-08-17 04:59:11AM

Solr Details

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accelerated_reader_point_value 0
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author Leebaert, Derek.
author_display Leebaert, Derek
available_at_arlington Central
collection_arlington Adult Nonfiction
detailed_location_arlington Central Adult Nonfiction
display_description As the nation commits itself to a renewed military effort in Afghanistan, Georgetown foreign relations professor Leebaert explains why we have so often stumbled in our foreign policy. He analyzes the follies and failures of "emergency men," the political appointees, intellectuals, and policy entrepreneurs of the national security establishment, from the Best and Brightest architects of the Vietnam debacle to the neo-con masterminds of the Iraq War.
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id ef14e351-421c-f3cc-c65b-9a6943c28877
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item_details ils:.b13142641|.i14925424|Central Adult Nonfiction|327.73 LEEBA|||1|false|false|||||On Shelf|Aug 16, 2017|can||
itype_arlington Hardback
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literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_arlington 327.73 LEEBA
owning_library_arlington Arlington Public Library, Aurora Hills, Central, Cherrydale, Columbia Pike, Connection Crystal City, Detention Center, Glencarlyn, Local History, Plaza, Shirlington, Westover
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primary_isbn 9781439125717
publishDate 2010
record_details ils:.b13142641|Book|Books|1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.|English|Simon & Schuster,|2010.|336 p. ; 24 cm.
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subject_facet United States -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1989, United States -- Foreign relations -- 1989-, United States -- Foreign relations -- Philosophy, United States -- Foreign relations administration
title_display Magic and mayhem
title_full Magic and mayhem / Derek Leebaert
title_short Magic and mayhem