For some years now—and particularly since the Reagan administration came to power—politicians and pundits have been bewailing what they view as a precarious decline of American power. President Reagan has discovered a “window of vulnerability” through which the Soviets may launch their nuclear missiles on this country, and he has advocated the most expensive defense program in U. S. history. Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig has found danger to our national security threatening “everywhere,” and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger has proved to be even more hawkish toward the Soviets than Haig. Small wonder, then, that in this summer of 1982 we can paraphrase the title of the famous historical novel about Nero’s Rome and ask, “Where are we going?” Still, even as Reagan, Haig, and Weinberger cry havoc, voices of dissent have risen throughout the land, particularly against the continuing nuclear arms race that now threatens man not with mere destruction and death but with total extinction. In order to gain some sense of where we may be heading, it is necessary to examine where we have been in recent history, and that is the subject of Norman Graebner’s essay. In order to avoid plunging over the abyss of annihilation, it is necessary to present some alternatives to our present policy of spending ever more billions for defense, and those are what Robert J. Brugger offers in his article. As Mr. Graebner notes, it is not so much that American power has declined as it is that America’s successful postwar economic policies have restored war-wrecked Europe and Japan. As Mr. Bruggeh points out, the more sophisticated and expensive our weaponry has become, the more it has tended to be error-prone and difficult to operate effectively.
An historian for more than three decades, Mr. Graebner has been Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. Professor of History at the University of Virginia since 1967. His first interest is American foreign policy, and his many books include Empire on the Pacific, Cold War Diplomacy, and The Age of Global Power. He was the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University in 1978—79 and a visiting professor at the U. S. Military Academy, West Point as well as a National Phi Beta Kappa lecturer during the 1980—81 academic year. Like Mr. Graebner, Mr. Brugger is also an historian. He is presently serving as an associate editor of The Papers of James Madison. He is the author of Beverley Tucker: Heart over Head in the Old South and recently edited a collection of essays entitled Our Selves/Our Past: Psychological Approaches to American History. Mr. Brugger’s concern with military affairs dates back to his days as a Navy ROTC student at Notre Dame. He was subsequently commissioned as a U. S. Marine officer and served in combat in Vietnam as commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. Reassigned to Washington in late 1969, then-Captain Brugger helped to organize a military anti-Vietnam War group known as the Concerned Officers Movement.
William Hoffman is the author of eight novels and a volume of short stories. His latest novel, The Land That Drank the Rain, was published by Louisiana this past May. He has worked as a newsman, banker, and more recently as a teacher at Hampden-Sydney College. He now lives with his wife and two daughters on a farm in Charlotte County, Virginia.
Michael Nelson is an assistant professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. He is co-editor of The Culture of Bureaucracy and currently is working on Presidents, Politics, and Policy in collaboration with Erwin Hargrave, a book to be published by Random House.
A Commonwealth Professor of French at the University of Virginia and a noted scholar, Roger Shattuck received a 1975 National Book Award for his critical study of Marcel Proust. He is also the author of a book of poems, Half Tame, and his other works include The Banquet Years and The Forbidden Experiment.
Richard Cecil has published poems recently in Southern Poetry Review, American Poetry Review, and Seattle Review.
Stephen Sandy is the author of two chapbooks, both published this spring and entitled, respectively, Flight of Steps and Chapter and Verse. His volume of poems, Riding to Greylock, will be published by Knopf next year.
Katherine Kane has published widely and appeared in VQR for the first time in 1980
Peter Wild has assembled numerous collections of poetry, including Chihuahua and Cochise. He teaches at the University of Arizona.
James Tate is the author of six collections of poetry and a collection of short stories. His most recent book of poems is River Doggeries. He is a member of the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
A regular VQR contributor, Jeffrey Meyers is a critic possessing the inquisitiveness of a police reporter. That inquisitiveness led him to reexamine the controversial circumstances involving the death of Randall Jarrell. He is the author of 14 books on modern literature, including several works on T. E. Lawrence and George Orwell and a biography of Katherine Mansfield. His latest work is The Enemy: A Biography of Wyndham Lewis.
John J. Clayton writes both fiction and criticism. His novel, What Are Friends For?, was published in 1979, the same year in which an enlarged edition of his Saul Bellow: In Defense of Man was published. His fiction has been reprinted in Best American Short Stories and twice in the O. Henry Prize Stories. He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Samuel Pickering, Jr. is no stranger to the classroom, having taught in places as varied and far apart as Dartmouth College and Amman, Jordan. He spent the 1979—80 academic year as a Fulbright lecturer at Tishreen University in Latakia, Syria. He now teaches English at the University of Connecticut. His most recent book is John Locke and Eighteenth Century English Children’s Books.
C. W. Gusewelle is an associate editor and columnist for the Kansas City Star as well as a fiction writer. His fiction has appeared in such publications as Harper’s, Paris Review, and Transatlantic Review, and he was the recipient of the Paris Review’s 1977 Aga Kahn Prize for Fiction. A psychiatrist as well as a prolific author and critic, Robert Coles spent part of his early career in the Deep South working with black and white children in recently desegregated schools. This work ultimately resulted in Children of Crisis, a fivevolume study of children of all castes and classes in America. His many awards include the Pulitzer Prize.
Richard D. Altick recently retired as Regents’ Professor of English at the Ohio State University, but his so-called retirement is purely cosmetic, since he is presently preparing a book on the treatment of English literary subjects in 18th- and 19th-century British art. His last book, The Shows of London, published in 1978 by Harvard, received widespread critical acclaim,
A former Rhodes Scholar, Murat Williams is a retired U. S. Foreign Service officer who served as ambassador to El Salvador during the Kennedy administration.
James Latimer, who recently retired from the Richmond Times-Dispatch after a career spanning four decades, is the dean of Virginia political reporters and one of the most respected political writers in the country. He is now completing a public television series on recent governors of the Old Dominion. His residence in the former capital of the Confederacy is on a street which attests to Richmond’s abiding concern with the Civil War. Mr. Latimer’s address: 1611 Confederate Avenue.
Philip F. Guha is the author of The Wisdom of Words: Language, Theology, and Literature in the New England Renaissance. He is director of graduate studies in the Department of English at the University of Colorado and is completing a study of Puritan radicalism in 17th-century New England.
Richard G. Wilson recently became a tenured member of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he serves as chairman of the Architectural History Department. He is also one of the country’s foremost authorities on the work of architect Stanford White.
John A. Glusman is an editor at Random House and also a teacher of writing and modern literature at the New School for Social Research in New York.
Ralph Cohen is a Kenan Professor of English at the University of Virginia and founder of the distinguished Journal of New Literary History. He is now completing a book on literary change in England between the 16th- and 19th-centuries.
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