As the tumultuous ’60s emerged, Tom Pauken was beginning his college career as a wide-eyed freshman. Already schooled in the basic premise of liberalism, he happily happened upon books by fellows with names like Goldwater and Buckley. That was enough.

Early on in his terrific new book, “Bringing America Home,” Pauken reveals a chilling truth: “By the time the 1960’s rolled around, liberalism had been the dominant ideology among the American intellectual class for decades.”

And let me say very simply: This is a really, really good book!

Pauken is not just talking out of his hat. His experiences at Georgetown University, his service in Vietnam, and subsequent business successes and political involvement give him a perspective we need to heed. He frankly says that Republicans were spoiled by too much success.

Pauken has a ton of solid ideas for reforming America, even if some of them are a bit idealistic (such as an effort to “re-Christianize” Europe). He has a rare ability to locate a problem and articulate a sound strategy for overcoming it.

In “Bringing America Home,{ Pauken laments the political leadership that preceded – but especially succeeded – Ronald Reagan. He notes that there were not only fiscal failures and mistakes with regard to militant Islam, but also “incoherent and thoughtless policies in Latin America.”

To drive home his point that we are not thinking through our selections for high office, Pauken says: “We should not support Republican candidates for president
just because they happen to be the lesser of two evils.”

A military intelligence officer in Vietnam, Pauken also got an up-close look at American foreign policy in action. He favors a more judicious approach to foreign entanglements, so that they don’t become entanglements at all. For example, he notes the epic behind-the-scenes battles within the Reagan administration, particularly in the handling of the Lebanon crisis of 1982-83.

“Bringing America Home” examines a whole range of issues, and in the chapter entitled “The Coarsening of the Culture,” Pauken presents a fascinating backdrop for our present troubles.

He discusses Solzhenitsyn, who knew that not only had the Russians forgotten God, but the West was doing the same, losing our “religious consciousness.”

Pauken notes: “What does it say about our culture when a ‘respected’ private-equity chieftain brags that, in pursuing business deals, he wants to ‘inflict pain’ and ‘kill off his rivals’?”

Thus, Pauken not only identifies the results of wrong thinking, he also has an innate understanding of their roots. For example, the above quote shows that he realizes Darwinian philosophy, epitomized in Spencer’s “survival-of-the-fittest” mentality, has corrupted American business and made Gordon Gekko-style ruthlessness the order of the day. It is killing our culture.

There is also a brief, fascinating story about Stephen Schwarzman, private equity mogul. A friend and classmate of George W. Bush at Yale, Schwarzman revealed in a Wall St. Journal interview that he “views each deal as a contest to the death,” according to the Journal: “I want war – not a series of skirmishes. I always think about what will kill off the other bidder.”

Pauken also advocates a different strategy for dealing with radical Islam: Don’t get mired in Middle East skirmishes (see Lebanon, 1983). In a politically correct age, he isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, saying that the “strategic threat is militant Islam, not ‘terror.'” He writes that militant Islam itself has defined the war in religious terms.

Pauken’s semi-unique strategy (this is but one element, but a critical one) is the need to “re-Christianize” Europe. Although I wholeheartedly agree with the author on this point, it is a bit easier said than done. Still, he raises the issue, which many in our own secularized culture are either afraid or loathe to do.

He points out that America’s intellectual elite hated Solzhenitsyn because he pointed out our abandonment of religion was bringing us down. This is interesting observation, because it reveals a major chink in the liberal armor, one that manifests itself in other issues (such as the rabid, aggressive drive for women’s rights, except in countries where Islam brutalizes women).

A native of Texas, Pauken is also a businessman and served under Reagan as director of the ACTION agency, which de-funded (tax dollars) leftist organizations. We need him to oversee National Public Radio!

Pauken also has concrete ideas in the area of education reform and discusses reforming our educational system, pointing out that in his home state of Texas, of high school students taking the ACT in 2004 … only 18 percent had the necessary skills for college!

He doesn’t just offer slogan ideas, either, noting that a success story “requires a solid emphasis on core subject matter in secondary schools,” not the dumbing-down of No Child Left Behind (which he calls “gimmicky”).

There is a lot of information in a quick 200 pages of “Bringing Amarica Home.”

In this great effort, Pauken ends with this: “Here at home, on every front – economic, political, and cultural – we are facing critical decisions that will set our course for generations to come. Some of these challenges are new; some have been growing for years. But if we are to avoid the fate of the Roman Empire, we have to face facts, ground our actions in reality, and set ourselves to work to rebuild our society. If not us, who? If not now, when?”


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