Beyond Patriotism: From Truman to Obama

James R. Flynn. Imprint Academic (Ingram, dist.), $29.90 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-1-84540-312-6
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A renowned scholar of the science of intelligence, Flynn (Where Have All the Liberals Gone?) bookends his latest by appealing to a “morally mature public” to go beyond an “era of automatic patriotism.” However, he conflates “patriotism” with a kind of uncritical nationalism, which, as he himself points out, many Americans abandoned during the Vietnam War. In one section, he takes a sometimes spotty, sometimes spot-on look at the most problematic aspects of America’s armed interventions from Hiroshima to Afghanistan. In arguing that none of America’s wars of the past 50 years have been “morally permissible,” Flynn sometimes effectively documents his case, for example, addressing the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties in the first Iraq War and the sanctions that followed. However, when he discusses American support for Israel, he expresses extreme, and largely unsupported, anti-Zionist tropes such as claiming that “Israel was established by displacement of the local population.” Strangely, for all his critique of American foreign policy, Flynn provides guidelines for how it should act as a “world sovereign,” and unfortunately relies too heavily on (often very dated) magazine and newspaper articles to support his points. The result is more muddled than original or provocative. Agent: Jeff Scott, Platypus PR, U.K. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/30/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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