Saturday, July 31, 2004

Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated by Gore Vidal

It's no secret that I've long been admirer of Gore Vidal. The fluency of his writing, the proliferate volume of his work, and his keen attention to matters of policy both foregin and domestic all conspired to make him one of the writers I most admired as a teen.

In Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, Vidal muses on questions surrounding why the United States Federal Government is such a target for terrorists and saboteurs. He uses Timothy McVeigh, the man who was sentenced to death for the bombing of the Murray Federal building in OKC in 1999 as his case study of a domestic terrorist, and uses Osama bin Laden to explore the roots of foreign terrorists. The book's title, taken from historian Charles Beard, summarizes Gore's conclusion. To wit: "The United Stated Federal Government, since the time of Truman, hhas been engaged in a perpetual series of wars and police actions both foregin and domestic, which are neither constitutional nor just. The goal of these wars is to justify a pentagon budget that is out of control, and to feed an ever more hungry and corrupt defense industry, the leaders of which also control congress."

Is this book proposing conspiracy theories? Absolutely. Vidal, a died-in-the-wool Jeffersonian is not a fan of th US Federal Government. He explores OKC, Waco, Ruby Ridge, the FBI, both attacks on the World Trade Center, and the (first) war in Iraq. That this book was written between 1997 and 2000, and is still HIGHLY relevant to conventional politics should come as no suprise; Vidal is, as usual, preiscent.

If you watched F/911, if you are fascinated by the ongoing erosion of states' and individuals' rights, if you care about civil liberty, if you vote or if you pay taxes you should probably read this book. While it goes too far on occasion, it provides a compelling viewpoint, one that the reader is not forced to adopt, but which is persuasive as an explanation and comes from a source with far more credibility than current muckrakers like Michael Moore are likely to ever have.


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