The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush's Militarism

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Examining the ways in which the war on terror has been utilized to promote regressive social and economic agendas, an analysis of the current domestic policy reveals taxation and strategic political practices in prior wars while revealing how democracy has been compromised, veteran benefits have bee

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About the Author:

Frances Fox Piven is the author of Why Americans Don't Vote and, with Richard A. Cloward, Regulating the Poor, Poor People's Movements, The New Class War, and The Breaking of the American Social Compact (The New Press), among other books. She lives in Manhattan and Millerton, New York.

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The emotional fervor generated by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has helped a domestic neoconservative agenda, as well as altered a historical pattern in which governments waging war wind up expanding civil rights and social programs, or so argues sociologist Piven (Why Americans Don’t Vote). The turn to preemptive war and the disregarding of international linkages, she claims, is part of a domestic strategy, just as the Cold War justified the domestic Red Scare. Piven doesn’t add original research; rather she synthesizes a wide range of reportage and commentators (Chalmers Johnson, Kevin Phillips, Naomi Klein, Garry Wills, Jonathan Schell, etc.) in sometimes bloglike fashion. She finds Bush backers in Congress invoked the need to avoid partisan bickering in wartime—thus hastening passage of corporate-friendly tax-cut legislation and deregulation. Meanwhile, cuts in federal spending increased pressure on the states to cut back their own social spending. Piven doesn’t pause much to analyze why the opposition Democrats and others let this happen, but she does argue that the fallout from the wars make the administration vulnerable in the upcoming election. "War itself cannot be an effective cover for this ruse for long," she concludes, predicting (while at the same time working to foster) an atmosphere conducive to regime change.
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