World War II converted the United States into a culture addicted to war like a junkie addicted to heroin. Our first reaction to any international crisis is to send in the troops rather than sending the diplomats. The incomprehensible amount of money we spend on the military has become one of the biggest driving forces of our economy and in turn the money donated by military funded industries fuels the election campaigns of our politicians.
Carroll shows how over the past six decades the Pentagon has systematically exaggerated threats to the United States in order to justify its bloated and ever growing budget. At the same time the ossified bureaucracy of the Pentagon has been unable to adapt to the radically changed international situation. Locked in Cold War thinking, the Generals basically ignored the collapse of the Soviet Union and continued to increase the American nuclear arsenal rather than questioning its size and usefulness.
Presidents from both parties have either bought into American military triumphalism and paranoia or have been so intimidated by the military that they were incapable of reigning it in. Meanwhile the U.S. gets drawn into one military misadventure after another because the intelligence provided by the Pentagon exists to justify the expenditures of the military and reinforce the forgone conclusions of the superior officers of the analysts rather than provide an accurate assessment of threats.
Carroll, the son of an Air Force General, became first a Catholic Priest and then an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War. His family connections provide him with an surprising level of access to Pentagon insiders, but his feelings about the U.S. military establishment are all mixed up with his idolization of and ultimate alienation from his father. He is far from unbiased, but the insight he provides into U.S. military culture will leave you in equal parts angry and depressed.