Cover image for Presidential machismo : executive authority, military intervention, and foreign relations
Presidential machismo : executive authority, military intervention, and foreign relations
DeConde, Alexander.
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Publication Information:
Boston : Northeastern University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
391 pages ; 24 cm
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E176.1 .D42 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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DeConde (history, University of California, Santa Barbara) offers a historical account of how presidents from Washington to Clinton have asserted their privilege as commander in chief, examining their penchant for using military might unilaterally and their reasons for doing so. He explains how exec

Author Notes

Alexander DeConde is Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

DeConde (emeritus, history, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) looks at the presidential use of force, suggesting that often our Chief Executives resort to military action not for national security reasons but to prove themselves as men. This presidential machismo is not inborn but "socially constructed." Examining the use of force from Washington to Clinton, DeConde sees only two presidents who avoided the drive for machismo: John Adams and Herbert Hoover. Well researched and clearly written, this convincing account of how presidents have aggrandized war powersÄsometimes for legitimate, often for less legitimate, more personal reasonsÄreinforces the wisdom of the Framers in giving Congress the power to declare war for fear that that power might corrupt an executive. DeConde powerfully argues for a return to the constitutional restraints on the president. An important contribution to the literature on war powers; recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄMichael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

DeConde (history, Univ. of California-Santa Barbara) documents that the power of presidents to instigate wars and present Congress with faits accomplis did not begin with the Cold War. He offers a president-by-president history of the process of deployments and policy justifications. His premise is that "investigators have found no evidence of intent by the framers to incorporate the godlike Lockean prerogative in the Constitution." DeConde relates a steady departure from the original intent of the president as "agent of Congress" in the use of force to the Lockean inherent power to act "regardless of legislative opposition" at the time of the Gulf War. The power to deploy forces does not account for the process, but presidential usurpation of the power to "judge national obligations under treaties even if his action might affect the war power" does. DeConde views President Washington's unilateral neutrality proclamation with the outbreak of war between France and Britain as usurpation. In the contemporary era, this has evolved into presidents' declaring the nation's vital interests. The author uses presidential quotations and contemporaneous observers' statements to illustrate the driving force of machismo behind the process. The perspective is explicitly feminist. DeConde provides grist to challenge Federalist 70 and ponder the advantages of the parliamentary system's cabinet government. Upper-division undergraduates and above. T. M. Jackson; Marywood University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 3
1 Origins of Activismp. 8
2 Commander in Chief Enhancedp. 37
3 To the Stewardship Theoryp. 66
4 Iron-Fisted Moralityp. 95
5 Presidential War as Prerogativep. 120
6 Covert Interventionismp. 154
7 The Watershedp. 184
8 Preeminence Regainedp. 216
9 Machismo Still Rewardedp. 246
10 Must Presidents Prevail?p. 285
Notesp. 296
Selected Bibliographyp. 329
Indexp. 379