Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review: In Defense of America

There is a special place in my heart for foreign written books that defend the United States. Mark Steyn's America Alone is a good example, and so is In Defense of America by Bronwen Maddox. I happened upon this book purely by accident. I read the book jacket, and decided to read the rest of the book. It is a small book (about 216 pages long). I read it in one day. I highly recommend it.

A word of caution: This isn't a defense of everything that the United States has ever done. Ms. Maddox and I disagree on some pretty significant points (such as the war in Iraq). Ms. Maddox also takes the United States to task for issues she feels we got wrong. However, she also points out that the United States has done many good things, and that our country is founded on some very incredible ideas. The ideas set forth in our founding document are foreign to most of the rest of the world. Ms. Maddox says, "The American enterprise can appear anachronistic at a time when countries are shedding fractious provinces or breaking into pieces entirely. But it still represents a profoundly civilized goal: to overcome ethnic and religious differences in uniting people willingly into one country."

She points out that while it is commonly held that we have lost our image internationally, there were many criticisms of the United States during the Clinton administration. She also points out that Europe would be naïve to expect a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy with the next President, even if it is Senator Obama. Most in Europe don't understand the fundamental way our government works. I would argue that many within the United States don't understand the basics of our Constitution, let alone our Government. The power to run our government is divided among the different branches of government. The President cannot do everything. Many things (like the use of troops) require Congressional approval. Because of this, a stark, dramatic change, is very hard to accomplish in America.

Finally, In Defense of America contains recommendations for the United States going forward, and a few cautions for our international critics. Many in today's world hope that the United States is reluctant to become involved in international events after Iraq. We may be cautious to use our military, or to even criticize other nations after the twists and turns we have faced in Iraq. This would be bad for the world as a whole. There are many times that the United States is the only one with a military able to defend other nations, and the will power to defend those nations. We also tend to send more aid to problem areas than many groups of countries. A world with a Untied States that "minds its own business" could become a very dark, and very scary world.

I recommend this book to all of my readers. It is a quick read. I promise you will find points that you disagree with. I also promise that the arguments that Ms. Maddox sets forth will be very thought provoking, and worth your attention.


Christina said...

Andy, I'm almost afraid to read this review b/c every time I read one of your reviews, I end up wanting to get the book! My list is getting longer and longer! Unlike you, I never read a book in a day, or an evening. Can't stick w/it that long...uh-oh, I feel myself being drawn back to read the review...

Andy D said...

Hah, I hope you were drawn in! Of course, if you really like, click my link and buy it from Amazon (shameless marketing ploy).

I have read a few of these "types" of books. I really enjoy reading political / current events books written by authors outside the United States. Ms. Maddox has a very fair argument in this book. Like I said in the review, I don't agree with her on every point, but I believe her arguments are worth listening to. If you buy it, I hope you enjoy it.