The Emergency State
America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs
From the New York Times’s veteran foreign policy editorialist, a lucid analysis of the harm caused by America’s increasingly misdirected national security state
America is trapped in a state of war that has consumed our national life since before Pearl Harbor. Over seven decades and several bloody wars, Democratic and Republican politicians alike have assembled an increasingly complicated, ineffective, and outdated network of security services. Yet this pursuit has not
only damaged our democratic institutions and undermined our economic strengths; it has fundamentally failed to make us safer.
In The Emergency State, senior New York Times writer David C. Unger reveals the hidden costs of America’s bipartisan obsession with achieving absolute national security and traces a series of missed opportunities—from the end of World War II through the presidency of Barack Obama—when we could have rethought our defense strategy but did not. Provocative, insightful, and refreshingly nonpartisan, this is the definitive untold story of how America became so vulnerable—and how it can build real security again.
CHAPTER 1 Losing Our Way
CHAPTER 2 The Godfather
CHAPTER 3 The Framing of the Permanent Emergency State
CHAPTER 4 Runaway Train
CHAPTER 5 Belated Realism
CHAPTER 6 Tunnel Vision
CHAPTER 7 Emergency Repairs
CHAPTER 8 Damage Control
CHAPTER 9 A Different Path
CHAPTER 10 The President We Wanted
CHAPTER 11 Soft Landing
CHAPTER 12 Bridge to Nowhere
CHAPTER 13 Come the Destroyer
CHAPTER 14 Hope Abandoned
CHAPTER 15 Beyond the Emergency State
Editors' Choice, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“Ambitious and valuable”
"Unger should be commended for contributing to the debate... persuasive."
— SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“Unger’s broad indictment of defense policy—bipartisan if not nonpartisan—is sure to spark considerable and worthy debate.”
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"An important perspective about opportunities missed and roads not taken"
— KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Thoughtful work for your smart political readers.”
— LIBRARY JOURNAL
“David Unger's informative, historical and incisive narrative clearly illustrates that that the challenge of upholding democratic principles is a constantly evolving challenge for even the most mature of democracies and makes clear that there is no trade-off between security and the respect for human rights and civil liberties.”
— Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)
"Like a skilled surgeon, David Unger lays bare the pathologies that have disfigured U. S. national security policy over the course of many decades. The result is a thoughtful, judicious, immensely readable, and vitally important book."
— Andrew J. Bacevich, author of WASHINGTON RULES and THE LIMITS OF POWER
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