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America's Needless Wars

Cautionary Tales of US Involvement in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Iraq

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


This eye-opening book takes a unique approach to the history of U.S. foreign policy by examining three unrelated conflicts, all of which ended tragically and resulted in the deaths of millions on both sides. By analyzing what went wrong in each case, the author uncovers a pattern of errors that should serve as a precaution for future decision makers contemplating a conflict abroad.

Why did President McKinley oppose Filipino independence forces if his motivation was truly to help Filipinos overthrow Spanish domination? Why did several U.S. presidents ignore the failures of the French in Vietnam and reject peace overtures from popular revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh to bring the conflict to an early end? And how could American leaders have been so wrong about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction and then let Iraq devolve into chaos after overthrowing the dictator?

Historian David R. Contosta has sifted through official hearings, media investigations, public documents, memoirs of those for and against the conflicts, and numerous histories to uncover the answers to these questions. The common thread that links these wars from different centuries is that political leaders all too often have acted out of ignorance, arrogance, fear, and partisan gamesmanship. These lapses were compounded by the failure of the media to inform the public accurately and dispassionately. The sad result is that America has paid a high price in lost lives and tarnished national reputation.

As the author notes in conclusion, if American exceptionalism is to have any meaning, then we must honestly appraise our past foreign-policy blunders to ensure wiser political action in the future.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 27, 2017 – Contosta (Rebel Giants), professor of history at Pennsylvania's Chestnut Hill College, simply and clearly argues that the U.S. has unnecessarily fought three wars over the past 105 years. Drawing from a just-war theory that stretches back to St. Augustine, Contosta labels these wars unjust as well as unnecessary because at no time did the Philippines, Vietnam, or Iraq threaten America's national security. In economic and crystalline prose, Contosta introduces the Philippine conflict by contextualizing the declared war between the U.S. and Spain over the latter's colonial possessions of Cuba and the Philippines. Fighting between Americans and Filipinos commenced when the U.S. decided to annex the Philippines instead of supporting its independence. Contosta precedes the Vietnam War chapter with one on the Cold War that sidesteps the question of why he doesn't label the Korean War "unnecessary." Iraq, perhaps because the conflict there is so recent, gets covered in only one chapter. Since there were no clear-cut cases of aggression against the U.S. at the start of any of these conflicts, what provoked the country to go to war was "ignorance, arrogance, and fear," Contosta writes. This compact, if slightly reductive, analysis serves as a warning lest that "intertwined and self-reinforcing triad" rear its ugly head again.
America's Needless Wars
View in iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: Mar 21, 2017
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 206 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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