The Cannon Beach Library remains shuttered until health authorities deem it safe to open for patrons. Stay home and healthy.

Anyone needing help or information about the library during this coronavirus closure should call or text office manager Jen Dixon at 517-896-4278. She will respond quickly to messages.

Patrons undergoing biblio-withdrawal might consider the library’s e-book service. Click on the “library services” page of the Cannon Beach Library’s website for instructions about accessing e-books. Jen also can help patrons with using this service.

Patrons should retain overdue books until the library reopens. No fines will be charged during this closure.

With little else but time on my hands these days and nights, I keep finding new books of interest. One, now available at the library, that I found particularly thought-provoking is “The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered its Cold War Victory” by Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and Princeton University, Bacevich served in the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War before retiring as a colonel in 1992. He has authored or co-authored 17 books focused on U.S. military history, international relations and strategy, and presidential politics.

“The Age of Illusion” condenses major themes of U.S. decline that Bacevich has treated at greater length in other books, which makes his latest work such a rewarding read.

Bacevich concentrates on the international policies of five presidents in office since the collapse of the Soviet Union on Dec. 31, 1991: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

These five presidents receive mixed reviews of their policy responses to the end of the Cold War.

Of the five, Poppy Bush, despite failing to gain a second term, receives praise for his modest response to the collapse of the Soviet Union, for constructing a multi-nation force in the first war against Iraq and for his decision to end that war before the allied forces reached Bagdad.

Bacevich admits that Bill Clinton was a gifted politician but criticizes his hubris in supporting NATO expansion into the former Soviet republics, in involvement of the U.S. in air strikes in the Balkans, and continuing bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan.

Clinton clearly saw a weak Russia as an opportunity for the U.S. to determine winners and losers around the world, with a little help from a technology-driven military.

Clinton is also criticized for cracking down on crime, slashing welfare programs, deregulating the banking industry, negotiating NAFTA, granting China’s most-favored-nation trade status and bringing China into the World Trade Organization - all actions that undermined the economic stature of the Democratic base in unions and middle America, from which Trump would pull voters in 2016.

Bacevich mostly criticizes Clinton for his emphasis on globalization of trade and manufacturing.

He targets George W. Bush for his administration’s globalization of war and regime change, broadcasting that the U.S was now in charge.

Although Bacevich praises Obama for bringing the U.S. economy back from the shambles of the worst recession since the Great Depression and for limiting the use of U.S. troops in the wars that Bush had begun in the Mideast, he nevertheless criticizes him for extending the U.S. use of drones, air power, special forces and assassination lists throughout the world, and for ignoring a growing wealth gap between the 1% and the rest of us.

As Trump, Hillary Clinton and Sanders battled in the 2016 presidential race, Bacevich notes that only Trump and Sanders addressed basic inequalities in the American economy: The top 1% controlled more than a third, and the bottom 50% only1% of the nation’s wealth.

In addition, a volunteer military lured young men and women, unable to find work without a college education, to fight and often become casualties in global forever wars.

In 2016, one in six Americans was using antidepression and antianxiety drugs, 46,000 died from opioid use, 45,000 committed suicide annually, nearly 25 million children lived in fatherless households, Americans owned 46% of the world’s small arms, 33,000 died in firearms-related incidents, 683,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect, and the nation’s birthrate fell below the ability to sustain the country’s population.

In 2016, Trump spoke to a large swath of America - an unhappy group of “deplorables,” as Hillary Clinton would label his supporters.

Library volunteer Marjorie MacQueen continues to add new titles to the library, open or shuttered. In March, she purchased six fiction titles by Therese Anne Fowler, Clive Cussler, Olen Steinhauer, Hilary Mantel, Louise Erdrich and Greer Hendricks.

She also added eight mysteries by Harlan Coben, Kathy Reichs, Stuart Woods, C.J. Box, Chris Bohjalian, Andrea Camilleri, Donna Leon and Jussi Adler-Olsen.

When the library reopens, patrons will also find the following new nonfiction books: “Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and the Epic Trail of Destruction” by David Enrich; “John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder” by David Fisher and Dan Abrams; “Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis” by Greta Thunberg; and “Voyage of  Mercy: The USS Jamestown, the Irish Famine, and the Remarkable Story of America’s First Humanitarian Mission” by Stephen Puleo.


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