Archive for the 'Vietnam' Category

Angry Man

Nixon’s America was a land of rebellion and reaction.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Drew | WaPo | Sunday, June 1, 2008; BW05


The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
By Rick Perlstein
Scribner. 881 pp. $37.50

There is so much literature about various aspects of Richard Nixon — his foreign policy, his domestic policy, his rise to power, his time in power, his fall from power, his comeback, his relationship with Vice President Spiro Agnew, his trip to China — that it would seem difficult to find an original approach to the man. But, in Nixonland, Rick Perlstein has come up with the novel and important idea of exploring the relationship between Nixon and the 1960s counterculture, a rebellion of mostly young people against society’s conventions and authority in general. Perlstein is quite right in identifying this rebellion — and the reaction against it — as critical to Nixon’s rise and his strange hold on the American people. One might even consider Perlstein’s book to be primarily about the counterculture and only secondarily about Nixon, since he devotes nearly half of it to a brilliant evocation of the ’60s.

The decade had begun quiescently, with a general acceptance of the conventional mores of the ’50s and the Cold War. But midway through came upheaval: hippies, yippies, be-ins, the drug culture, the Weather Underground, the “summer of love.” Then the traumas of 1968: the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, campus unrest, urban riots. And, of course, Vietnam. A nation unhinged.

Perlstein astutely follows the reaction against all of this by a large part of the American people, whose deep resentments and fear Nixon shrewdly observed and exploited. In the 1968 election campaign, he offered America peace and quiet, law and order. But once in office, he delivered mass arrests of peaceful protesters against the war; his allies in the construction unions beat up demonstrators on Wall Street. Perlstein’s Nixonland is a land of rebellion and reaction, each faction stirring up the other. Continue reading ‘Angry Man’


A Chosen People without God–The Rise of the Neocons

Grant Havers | Taki’s Magazine | March 13, 2008

It is always risky to write the obituary of neoconservatism, despite the now fashionable view that this is an idea whose time is finally gone. As Jacob Heilbrunn demonstrates in They Knew They Were Right: The Rise Of The Neocons, the neoconservatives have always been a tenacious bunch. Who could have predicted that a small group of ex-Trotskyite intellectuals would not only shape foreign policy for the Republican Party in the last three decades but also reinvent conservatism in America? Heilbrunn, a former senior editor of The New Republic, wisely prefers to emphasize the past success of the neoconservatives rather than offer ironclad predictions about their future influence, settling for rather safe forecasts such as his claim that American soldiers will be in Iraq for another four years, whoever wins the election in 2008.

The title of the book is Heilbrunn’s essential explanation for the success of the neoconservatives—they knew they were right. Their sheer self-confidence of the neoconservatives, their belief that they have The Answer, is astounding and goes a long way in explaining their stunning victories. For this reason, the author emphasizes the radical origins of the movement.  Heilbrunn offers a readable (though not terribly original) account of how the future leaders of neoconservatism (especially Irving Kristol) got their start as public intellectuals engaged in various fratricidal battles between Trotskyites and Stalinists in the 1930s and 1940s.  Despite this parochial beginning, these former leftist radicals—who eventually became ardent anti-Communists—possessed the will to power necessary to enter and then transform the mainstream of American politics, especially on the right. As they eventually moved from the left to the right in the 1970s, this will to change the world through endless promotion of their ideas never flagged. Continue reading ‘A Chosen People without God–The Rise of the Neocons’

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“What do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.” John Adams

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