In 1982, President Ronald Reagan's invasion of the small island nation of Grenada was the first military action after World War II that the press questioned from the outset.
The "Reagan Doctrine," Hallock writes, "was the natural outgrowth of the president's unabashed and activist anti-communist policies, primarily in South America."
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 changed things dramatically, affording "an opportunity for the United States to take on the role of exclusive superpower."
The Soviet collapse also required anti-communism to be replaced by new ideologies focusing on countering terrorism, despotism and extremist Muslim groups.
With "strong backing" from the American press, top government leaders redefined and expanded the nation's military role, taking a more proactive role in world affairs.
President Bill Clinton, Hallock writes, defined his own "doctrine" when he said, "When our values are at stake, and when we can make a difference, we must be prepared to do so."
Clinton intervened in disputes in the Balkans and bombed Serbia.
Iraq and Libya
Perhaps the strongest example of the change came as George W. Bush made plans to invade Iraq.
"Unbeknownst to the press at the time, the Bush administration had contingency plans in place for war with Iraq before the terrorist attack on the United States," Hallock writes.
The Fund for Independence in Journalism found "at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.... The statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
Individuals like Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice played major roles in warning the American public about "weapons of mass destruction," weapons that never existed.
An interesting point Hallock could have made, but did not, is how some top political leaders dramatically changed their minds on war policies later in their lives, such as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy. Both McNamara and Bundy served under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War.
Hallock closes his study discussing the recent intervention in Libya under President Barack Obama.
"The Libyan intervention represented the full blossoming of a seed planted long ago in the Monroe Doctrine and then sown worldwide in an escalating series of post-World War II foreign policy doctrines and policies."
Those policies, Hallock argues, "not only justified an ever-expanding U.S. role abroad but that also represented a steadily expanding claim of executive power to make war independent of Congressional oversight."
Military engagement in Libya began without even a Congressional resolution, Hallock points out.
Since World War II, our presidents have seized "an imperial war-making power that was not intended by the authors of the Constitution."
Unless these policies are challenged more vigorously, Hallock warns, our future will be one where the American empire continues to pursue its "hegemonic mission" around the globe.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.