9781585441051 / 1585441058

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (Foreign Relations and the Presidency)


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Publisher:Texas A&M University Press, 2000



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About the book:

Americans consider themselves a peaceful people. Yet every generation since colonial times has taken part in war. Why? Does something in our democratic creed lead us repeatedly into hostilities? Does the American sense of mission demand that we take up arms to transform the world into our own image? Do baser motives drive national policy? Is there, in short, a distinctive American motive and style of war?

Distinguished diplomatic historian Robert A. Divine considers these questions in a thoughtful retrospective of the wars of the twentieth century. He examines the process of going to war and seeks patterns showing how and why the nation becomes involved in hostilities. He then turns to the way the United States wages war, looking at how it uses force to achieve political ends. Finally, he considers how leaders bring wars to an end, a process that sheds perhaps the most light of all on the national character. Repeatedly, Divine concludes, America seeks to use warfare to create a better and more stable world, only to meet with unexpected outcomes and the seeds of new hostility. Ironically, Divine finds that America's high ideals continually prevent the very peace the nation seeks.

In the epilogue, Divine applies his points to the final American war of the century, the conflict in Kosovo, which is

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