- Conservative christians, who adopted a seige mentality in the wake of the cultural changes in the 60's.
- The idolization of the military in the 80's and 90's, in a generational reaction against perceived injustices in the 70's.
- The development of smart weapons and the broader seperation of military and civilian society, which made "clean" war seem like a possibility.
What is most striking about the most powerful man in the world is not the power that he wields. It is how constrained he and his lieutenants are by forces that lie beyond their grasp and perhaps their understanding. Rather then bending history to their will, presidents and those around them are much more likely to dance to history's tune.Bacevich at the end offers a surprising reinterpretation of the last 30 years, where he adopts the neocon lingo of World War IV with a twist: instead of radical Islam waging war against a sleepy Western world he sees America fighting for political dominance of the broader Middle East, in a continuation of the western tradition going back to Alexander the Great. This idea is offered as a sketch, and I'd like to see him use another book to flesh it out.
This is good stuff with continuing relevance, particularly for those confused by why so little has changed under Obama.
UPDATE: I added this to the book review site with an addendum here.