Former Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney and his daughter, current US representative from Wyoming Liz Cheney tackle what makes America exceptional and why our military must always be strong in their 2015 book, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America. Written in the midst of a presidential election, it’s clear that both authors wanted to recap American military history of the 20th and 21st century so we would not be doomed to repeat it. Extremely critical of President Obama, this book is just about what you might expect from the Cheney’s and is a nice foray into the United State’s military decisions since World War II.
Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America relies on historical examples of world conflict in which America’ might saved the day to reiterate the need for a strong military supported by our government and our citizens. From the military build-up that allowed us to quickly retaliate after Pearl Harbor thrust us into World War II to the depletion of the military’s resources under Obama and in the Middle East, Liz and Dick Cheney evaluate the American response, the best moments and the pitfalls, and the leaders who oversaw the decisions, including the President of the United States and the other world leaders. The book focuses on World War II and the wars in the Middle East heavily but also explore Vietnam, Korea, and more.
In a section detailing how America’s enhanced interrogation techniques have benefited not only the intelligence community but changed the course of history, it’s clear that former VP Dick Cheney is fighting for his legacy. His explanations and examples are interesting though and provide a lot of fodder for future discussions because these discussions will continue for years and years to come as we continue the War on Terror and what happens and doesn’t happen at Gitmo and abroad.
In the last eighth of the book, the Cheneys dive into policy proposals (and frankly, demands) of the next president, who they undoubtedly did not think would be Donald Trump. Some of these policy proposals are bipartisan, others should be but are “wedge issues” as Cheney calls them. Some of these proposals, especially pertaining to the Iran Nuclear Deal, are already coming to fruition under President Trump. This section of the book is sold as a policy program for future candidates and it definitely reads that way, with solid points and explanations of how they will benefit the United States in the longterm.
If you’re interested in military and diplomatic history, especially in the 20th and early 21st century with a good amount of Obama-bashing thrown in, this book will suit you quite well. It’s a wide look at a very specific part of history, but it definitely reads like a pre-2016 election book. It’s really down on Obama and not as fun to read now that we’re over a year post-Obama. But if you can put that aside and focus on the national security aspects of the book, you’ll learn a lot about what is and is not a threat to the United States and how we can actually protect ourselves and the nations that are our allies.