ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY: The Politics of National Security-From World War II to the War on Terrorism

By Pearlman, Michael D. | Military Review, November/December 2011 | Go to article overview

ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY: The Politics of National Security-From World War II to the War on Terrorism


Pearlman, Michael D., Military Review


ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY: The Politics of National Security-From World War II to the War on Terrorism, Julian E. Zelizer, Basic Books, New York, 2010, 583 pages, $35.00.

As I write this review, Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence, is on a TV talk show lamenting the politicization of the war on terror. Are he and other proponents of a bipartisan foreign policy oblivious to the most famous of all Karl von Clausewitz aphorisms: "War is a mere continuation of politics by other means?" Apparently so.

The above phraseology is a misleading translation of "Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln [War is just politics by other means.]" "Politik" here could mean politics or it could mean state policy because Clausewitz wrote in the heyday of 19th-century Imperial Germany, when the state was a dynastic overlord sharing no substantial power with a legislature. Clausewitz meant that war is a way by which government enacts and enforces its policy. He did not say that war is a means by which aspirants for office compete for the favor of the body politic.

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, does not quote the frequently quoted but rarely read Clausewitz, but his survey of U. …

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