How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market
Author: Janine R. Wedel
Publisher: Hachette UK
Category: Business & Economics
It can feel like we’re swimming in a sea of corruption. It’s unclear who exactly is in charge and what role they play. The same influential people seem to reappear time after time in different professional guises, pressing their own agendas in one venue after another. According to award-winning public policy scholar and anthropologist Janine Wedel, these are the powerful “shadow elite,” the main players in a vexing new system of power and influence. In this groundbreaking book, Wedel charts how this shadow elite, loyal only to their own, challenge both governments’ rules of accountability and business codes of competition to accomplish their own goals. From the Harvard economists who helped privatize post-Soviet Russia and the neoconservatives who have helped privatize American foreign policy (culminating with the debacle that is Iraq) to the many private players who daily make public decisions without public input, these manipulators both grace the front pages and operate behind the scenes. Wherever they maneuver, they flout once-sacrosanct boundaries between state and private. Profoundly original, Shadow Elite gives us the tools we need to recognize these powerful yet elusive players and comprehend the new system. Nothing less than our ability for self-government and our freedom are at stake.
A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences
Author: Eric Alterman
Category: Political Science
“I’ve never read a better explanation of why presidents lie.”—John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, The Washington Monthly By the end of the twentieth century, after decades of demoralizing revelations about the mendacity of their elected officials, most Americans had come to accept the fact that deception was not only an accepted practice in government but also pervasive. Whatever the reasons proposed to justify falsehoods—practicality, expediency, extraordinary conditions of wartime—the ability to lie convincingly had come to be regarded as almost being a qualification for holding public office. Although such behavior has come to be tolerated, little accounting has been taken of the effects of this institutionalized dishonesty in our political culture. When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences addresses its subject not from a moral perspective, but from a pragmatic one, and discovers that in the end, honesty in government is, in fact, the best policy. Journalist and historian Eric Alterman’s meticulous research is drawn from primary-source materials, both government documents and the media reactions to the unfolding dramas, and demonstrates how these lies returned to haunt their tellers, or their successors, destroying the very policy the lie had been intended to support. Without exception, each of the presidents paid a high price for deception. So, too, did the nation. This is history at its most compelling, a balanced, eloquent, and revelatory chronicle of presidential dishonesty and its incalculable costs. In the fundamental questions it raises about leadership, accountability, and democracy, it is required reading for anyone who is concerned about America’s past—or her future.
Cinematic Terror takes a uniquely long view of filmmakers' depiction of terrorism, examining how cinema has been a site of intense conflict between paramilitaries, state authorities and censors for well over a century. In the process, it takes us on a journey from the first Age of Terror that helped trigger World War One to the Global War on Terror that divides countries and families today. Tony Shaw looks beyond Hollywood to pinpoint important trends in the ways that film industries across Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have defined terrorism down the decades. Drawing on a vast array of studio archives, government documentation, personal interviews and box office records, Shaw examines the mechanics of cinematic terrorism and challenges assumptions about the links between political violence and propaganda.
The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country--and Why They Can't Make Peace
Author: Patrick Tyler
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Category: Political Science
"Once in the military system, Israelis never fully exit," writes the prizewinning journalist Patrick Tyler in the prologue to Fortress Israel. "They carry the military identity for life, not just through service in the reserves until age forty-nine . . . but through lifelong expectations of loyalty and secrecy." The military is the country to a great extent, and peace will only come, Tyler argues, when Israel's military elite adopt it as the national strategy. Fortress Israel is an epic portrayal of Israel's martial culture—of Sparta presenting itself as Athens. From Israel's founding in 1948, we see a leadership class engaged in an intense ideological struggle over whether to become the "light unto nations," as envisioned by the early Zionists, or to embrace an ideology of state militarism with the objective of expanding borders and exploiting the weaknesses of the Arabs. In his first decade as prime minister, David Ben-Gurion conceived of a militarized society, dominated by a powerful defense establishment and capable of defeating the Arabs in serial warfare over many decades. Bound by self-reliance and a stern resolve never to forget the Holocaust, Israel's military elite has prevailed in war but has also at times overpowered Israel's democracy. Tyler takes us inside the military culture of Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, introducing us to generals who make decisions that trump those of elected leaders and who disdain diplomacy as appeasement or surrender. Fortress Israel shows us how this martial culture envelops every family. Israeli youth go through three years of compulsory military service after high school, and acceptance into elite commando units or air force squadrons brings lasting prestige and a network for life. So ingrained is the martial outlook and identity, Tyler argues, that Israelis are missing opportunities to make peace even when it is possible to do so. "The Zionist movement had survived the onslaught of world wars, the Holocaust, and clashes of ideology," writes Tyler, "but in the modern era of statehood, Israel seemed incapable of fielding a generation of leaders who could adapt to the times, who were dedicated to ending . . . [Israel's] isolation, or to changing the paradigm of military preeminence." Based on a vast array of sources, declassified documents, personal archives, and interviews across the spectrum of Israel's ruling class, Fortress Israel is a remarkable story of character, rivalry, conflict, and the competing impulses for war and for peace in the Middle East.
American foreign policy often looks like a trail of man-made debris and disaster. Of course, the explanations for many poorly-made decisions are rather complex. In this brief and cogent analysis, Houghton shows us that understanding American foreign policy often comes down to recognizing the cognitive limitations of the decision-makers, which affects the foreign policy process. Then there is the nature of the decisions themselves. Quite a few decisions in American foreign policy involve ‘tragic’ choices, where leaders are effectively confronted with a series of progressively bad or uncomfortable options. And it is equally clear that some policies are not the product of any one individual’s preferences, but emerge as a consequence of the way in which complex modern governments with large bureaucracies operate. Written with the interested layperson in mind, as well as students of international affairs, this Citizen’s Guide to American Foreign Policy asks questions like, "Why do presidents so often do things which seem to be directly against the national interests of the United States – not just in retrospect, but even at the time?" "Why do there seem to be so many fiascoes in US foreign policy?" "Why does Congress sometimes tie the hands of the president in foreign affairs?" "Why do presidents seem to respond more to opinion polls or to what’s on CNN and Fox News than they do to the core interests of the United States?" Houghton’s overview helps us see past the partisan in-fighting that too often obscures the central issues in foreign affairs. This is vital, required reading for all readers who wish to better understand America’s involvement in the world.