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Books Review - Book Report/Review Example

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Running Head: Books Review Books Review Name: Institution: Abstract America has over time developed national security institutions mainly based on the events prevailing at the time. Two renowned authors, Aaron Friedberg and Amy Zegart explain the events, reasons and purposes behind the creation of these institutions in their books; In the Shadow of the Garrison State: America's Anti-Statism and Its Cold War and Flawed By Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC respectively…
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Download file to see previous pages Friedberg, Aaron L. 2000. In the Shadow of the Garrison State: America's Anti-Statism and Its Cold War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. In this book, Freidberg (2000) looks at the US governments approach to issues during the cold war especially on pertinent issues such as conscription, taxation, scientific and industrial development as well as the development of security institutions. The author argues that war or its threat normally serves to ‘cement’ statism especially when governments feel inclined to change policy on issues such as taxation, drafting of soldiers, obtaining public support and quelling of internal dissent. However, unlike other states, Freidberg finds that the US has long been suspicious of state power and has in fact resisted attempts to limit personal, political and economic freedoms to develop the ‘garrison state’ that is geared for war. According to the author, it is this suspicion of state power that has continuously girded the country’s institutional architecture and influenced the opinions and beliefs of its citizenry as well as the political class. In the Post-World War II period leading to the Cold War, Friedberg argues convincingly that it is these anti-static sentiments by the US citizenry as a whole that prevented the US from becoming a garrison state unlike its rival the USSR. The author draws from numerous primary and secondary sources to come to the conclusion that the American state is inherently ‘weak’ and this weakness was its strength in the developing of national security institutions in the Post-War period that did not attempt to take away civil and political freedoms to consolidate power centrally. In his analysis of the Truman and Eisenhower approach to governance, Friedberg finds a common thread- the need to protect economic vitality, public support for the Cold War as well as to maintain technological superiority. It is this common thread that Friedberg suggests enabled the US to outlast or outmaneuver its highly centralized and statist competitor: the USSR. This is because the US did not sacrifice the natural functioning of the state to meet the immediate needs of war. As a Professor of internal relations at the Princeton University, Friedberg finds the need to delve deeper into America’s ‘grand’ strategy and how it consequently influenced government power, individual liberties and national security. His intricate explanations of the ‘interior structures’ of this strategy in as far as planning, resource allocation and roll-out, help us understand the rationale behind the creation of national security agencies which exist to this day and which are modeled along this framework. He explains that the basic threat to the US at the time according to both liberals and conservatives was rather the fear generated by the Cold War itself as manifested in examples such as the McCarthyite excesses and not too much government. In fact, both sides were worried that government spending on national security would overrun spending for education, health care and other basic necessities. Friedberg’s analysis is insightful and well thought out since it draws a pattern from the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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