Holt Paperbacks / 2007
Historian Greg Grandin "locates the origins of the militarism that led to war in Iraq" in Central America during the 1980s. There, he contends, the Reagan administration's policy first brought together the forces driving U.S. imperialism twenty years later. Grandin identifies these forces as "punitive idealism, free market absolutism, and the mass fervor of right wing evangelicalism." Most pertinent for our concerns, it was in the Central American was that "New Right Christian theologians joined forces with secular nationalism to elaborate an ethical justification for rejuvenated militarism" (6).
As the following excerpt from his conclusion shows, Grandin's analysis shines an intense light on the militarist idolatry that holds America in its thrall today:
...[A]ll of George Bush's abuses of power -- the manipulation of intelligence and the media, the building of an interagency war party that operated autonomously from Washington's foreign policy establishment, the illegal wiretaps, the surveillance of antiwar activists -- have their most immediate antecedents in Reagan's Central America policy, which in retrospect has to be understood as the first battle in the New Right's crusade to roll back restrictions placed on the imperial presidency in the wake of Vietnam, Watergate, COINTELPRO, and other scandals of the 1970s....