The US in Peril?

Jeff Madrick reviews American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips, in the New York Review of Books:

Phillips_kevin19900719003rIn Kevin Phillips’s view, the Bush energy policy is a prime example of America’s failure to confront its most difficult challenges. Phillips, once a member of the Nixon administration, has written a timely book that argues that America is very different from the independent and omnipotent nation portrayed by President Bush and his administration. Dependency on oil is one of three major tendencies that will seriously undermine America’s future, he writes, the other two being the influence of radical religion and the growing reliance on debt to support the economy. For Phillips, these constitute “the three major perils to the United States of the twenty-first century,” and he offers little hope that the US will avoid the consequences. Since he wrote his widely read The Emerging Republican Majority in 1969, Phillips has published several books lamenting how poorly the Republicans have handled their responsibilities. American Theocracy is his most pessimistic work to date.

Phillips is concerned with problems that all nations have to contend with in one form or other as they grow older. The very sources of national success, whether in resources or industrial innovation, eventually reach their limits; what lasts is a structure of power and influence that inhibits reform. But by limiting the scope of his book to oil, religion, and debt—although they can be connected with practically every other issue—Phillips has only partially described what is wrong with the US.

More here.