while we won the war, we catastrophically lost the peace. Our failure
prompted a fundamental change in our foreign policy. Confronted with the
shortcomings of "shock and awe," the U.S. military shifted its focus to
"stability operations": counterinsurgency and the rebuilding of failed
states. In less than a decade, foreign assistance has become
militarized; humanitarianism has been armed.
Combining recent history and firsthand reporting, Armed Humanitarians
traces how the concepts of nation-building came into vogue, and how,
evangelized through think tanks, government seminars, and the press,
this new doctrine took root inside the Pentagon and the State
Department. Following this extraordinary experiment in armed social work
as it plays out from Afghanistan and Iraq to Africa and Haiti, Nathan
Hodge exposes the difficulties of translating these ambitious new
theories into action.
Ultimately seeing this new era in foreign
relations as a noble but flawed experiment, he shows how armed
humanitarianism strains our resources, deepens our reliance on
outsourcing and private contractors, and leads to perceptions of a new
imperialism, arguably a major factor in any number of new conflicts
around the world. As we attempt to build nations, we may in fact be
weakening our own.
Nathan Hodge is a Washington, D.C.-based writer
who specializes in defense and national security. He has reported from
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, and a number of other countries in the
Middle East and former Soviet Union. He is the author, with Sharon
Weinberger, of A Nuclear Family Vacation, and his work has appeared in Slate, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and many other newspapers and magazines.
Founded in 1958 in response to the launch of Sputnik, the agency’s original mission was to create “the unimagined weapons of the future.” Over the decades, DARPA has been responsible for countless inventions and technologies that extend well beyond military technology. Sharon Weinberger gives us a riveting account of DARPA’s successes and failures, its remarkable innovations, and its wild-eyed schemes. We see how the threat of nuclear Armageddon sparked investment in computer networking, leading to the Internet, as well as to a proposal to power a missile-destroying particle beam by draining the Great Lakes. We learn how DARPA was responsible during the Vietnam War for both Agent Orange and the development of the world’s first armed drones, and how after 9/11 the agency sparked a national controversy over surveillance with its data-mining research. And we see how DARPA’s success with self-driving cars was followed by disappointing contributions to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Weinberger has interviewed more than one hundred former Pentagon officials and scientists involved in DARPA’s projects—many of whom have never spoken publicly about their work with the agency—and pored over countless declassified records from archives around the country, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and exclusive materials provided by sources. The Imagineers of War is a compelling and groundbreaking history in which science, technology, and politics collide.