U.S. vs. Them


“… an incisive intellectual history of conservatism….Scoblic argues convincingly that conservative foreign policy in the years since has increasingly undermined American security, most strikingly in the area of nuclear proliferation, where the Bush administration’s bellicosity has spurred a new arms race among nonnuclear powers.”
The New York Times

“A terrifying glimpse of the persistent tendency of one militant strand of conservatism to pursue conflict over peace, arms race over arms control, and ideology over pragmatism. His analytic history is particularly strong in revealing how, in a world of uncontrolled forces, conservatives sought to impose complete control, whether by pursuing technological fixes (like a nuclear missile shield) or treating U.S. security as if it were something that could simply be willed.”
— Samantha Power, The New York Review of Books

“Scoblic has written a deeply researched, highly readable, and compellingly argued account of strategic debates and foreign policy decision-making from the 1950s to the present. Even arms control veterans will find fresh insights and provocative interpretations. U.S. vs. Them should be read not only by those unaware of our nuclear history, but by the new cadre of policymakers who will soon take the helm in Washington.”
Arms Control Today

“The shelves are already bulging with books about George W. Bush’s disastrous foreign policy—where it went wrong, how to steer things right. Yet space should be made for J. Peter Scoblic’s U.S. vs. Them.”
—The Washington Post

“This cogent first book from the executive editor of the New Republic forcefully argues that 50 years of American conservatism have undermined U.S. security and pushed the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. Scoblic charts the course of American conservatism, from its development by William F. Buckley Jr. through the disastrous Cold War to Bush’s failure to safeguard the United States after 9/11: in stark, often frightening detail, Scoblic examines how Bush embraced “regime change” as a means of fighting “evil” and neglected to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union, failed to prevent North Korea from reprocessing plutonium, rebuffed requests for negotiations from an Iranian regime that was, in 2003, willing to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency, repeatedly ignored U.S. intelligence and pursued the war in Iraq. Scoblic illustrates how and why conservatism shaped the current administration and explains how it guided Bush’s “good vs. evil” morality. This is an important book, well researched and well reasoned in its assessment of conservatism and mandatory reading for anyone concerned with America’s security and future.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“J. Peter Scoblic’s rollicking indictment of how conservatives have undermined America’s security since the dawn of the nuclear era is intellectual history at its best. Scoblic shows us that a ship of fools is afloat, still navigating us all toward catastrophe. It is a shocking and even sordid tale told with calm logic and clear prose. Every informed citizen should pick up this book—but the next president should not occupy the Oval Office without first reading U.S. Vs. Them.”
—Kai Bird, coauthor with Martin J. Sherwin of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

“In this highly original study, part history, part current analysis, J. Peter Scoblic reveals the deep fear disguised as uncompromising idealism that has propelled the American conservative movement to promote its disastrous foreign policies. Us Vs. Them is a clear, succinct guidebook to the troubled first decade of the twenty-first century.”
—Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb and author ofArsenals of Folly: The Making of the Atomic Arms Race

“J. Peter Scoblic is one of the freshest voices on U.S. foreign policy, and he’s addressing a subject of existential importance. His distinctive take on the origins of George Bush’s arms control policies—and why they’ve produced catastrophic results—belongs on the reading list of anyone trying to understand why a zero-sum approach to the world won’t work in the twenty-first century.”
—Robert Wright, author of Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny

“A penetrating and provocative critique of a worldview that has brought the United States a world of trouble.”
—Strobe Talbott, former deputy secretary of state, and author of The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation

“In U.S. Vs. Them, Peter Scoblic challenges the assumptions and policies of the Bush administration on nuclear strategy. The book describes the contrasting views of conservatives and liberals on arms control as they have evolved over the past several decades. To understand today’s news stories about North Korea and Iran, one must understand the policy battles and the history that Scoblic lays out in this book.”
—James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans: A History of Bush’s War Cabinet and The China Fantasy

“J. Peter Scoblic’s new book superbly dispels nostalgia in favor of history. Since 1989, pernicious myths have abounded about how cranky, right-wing ideas on foreign policy and nuclear supremacy won the Cold War. In fact, those ideas came all too close to destroying the world—which makes their comeback in recent years extremely alarming. Scoblic’s unpolemical, deeply informed account offers urgent warnings about the present as well as a reasoned and persuasive rendering of the past.”
—Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln