While America Sleeps

While America Sleeps

Book - 2011
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Former senator Russ Feingold looks at institutional failures, both domestic and abroad, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and proposes steps to be taken--by the government and by individuals--to ensure that the next ten years are focused on solving the international problems that threaten America.

In While America Sleeps, Russ Feingold details our nation's collective failure to respond properly to the challenges posed by the post-9/11 era. Oversimplification of complicated new problems as well as the
cynical exploitation of the fears generated by 9/11 have undermined our ability to adjust effectively to America's new place in the world. This has weakened our efforts to protect American lives, our national security, and our constitutional values. Ranging from institutional failures to "get it right" by Congress, the executive branch, and the media to the way we have spoken of the war on terror, the nature of Islam, and American exceptionalism, too often we have not made the best choices in confronting, in Churchill's words, the "new conditions under which we now have
to dwell."
Senator Feingold explores the way in which the American public has been fed inadequate information
or mere slogans to explain 9/11, Al Qaeda, and related events. This compares unfavorably with the candor often associated with, for example, FDR's fireside chats during World War II. Lumping Al Qaeda into a catch-all category known as "bad guys," failing to make it clear that Islam itself is not a threat to our way of life, and underestimating the extreme difficulty of fully invading individual countries as a way to root out international terrorism are examples of this misdirection. Moreover, our general inability to keep our eyes on the international ball seems to have grown
even worse in the years following 9/11.
More than ten years after one of the greatest wake-up calls in human history, our nation seems to have again grown complacent about the issues that suddenly seemed so urgent immediately after 9/11. While America Sleeps suggests ways in which we can awaken a new national commitment to engage with
the rest of the world and one another in a less simplistic and more thoughtful way. Feingold's hope is that when the history of this era is written, it will be said that our country was taken off guard at the height of its power at the turn of the century and stumbled for a decade in an unfamiliar environment, but in the following decade America found a new national commitment of unity and resolve to adapt to its new status and leadership in the world.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2011.
ISBN: 9780307952523
Branch Call Number: 327.73 Feingold
Characteristics: viii, 304 p. :,ill. (chiefly col.), maps ;,25 cm.


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Aug 03, 2015

An engaging and pithy read for anyone who cares about the recent and ongoing political climate in the Western World.
Sen. Feingold is best known as the man who cast the lone "no" vote when the US Senate passed the infamous "USA Patriot Act" which demonstrably violates the Constitution, allowing unprecedented degrees of government snooping into the private lives of Americans -- even to the extent of recording what books people borrow from libraries and enabling the FBI to engage in wiretaps without warrant. Not surprisingly, both right-leaning civil libertarians and left-leaning Democrats have since begun to decry the loss of liberty and privacy; yet there has been no serious move to repeal the Act and the security establishment that was brought into existence with the Act is now well entrenched. Since Feingold's departure, no legislator has had the courage to face the Tea Party accusations of being terrorist-friendly that would ensue if he or she challenged the Act. Bin Ladin must be laughing wherever his soul resides.
Of course, there's a lot more to Feingold's book than that. Although he indulges in a bit more Capitol Hill minutiae than is really needed, he does make a number of other cogent points, e.g. the desperate need on the part of Americans to be a lot more knowledgeable than they have been about how the rest of the world thinks and works. The Republicans of today (who bear no resemblance to the GOP of Eisenhower) conveniently forget that the fiscal mess left from bailing out the big banks was instituted not by Obama but by the Bush administration; they will also forget that Feingold voted against that too. And they will of course dismiss this book out of hand amid what passes for political discourse in America. Feingold seems to be preaching to an empty church.

Jul 26, 2014

I've always thought Feingold to be a nice guy, but a submediocre legislator who never gets it, or has never gotten it! You will learn nothing fromt this book, with the possible exceptions of Feingold's intellectual shortcomings, I'm afraid to say. The relationship between Wall Street and the congress and the presidency is much, much better examined in Nomi Prins' latest book, All The Presidents' Bankers.


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