“In the Arena” by Pete Hegseth will make readers think about what values are important to them. His motivation for writing this book is taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “Citizenship In A Republic,” specifically the quote “Man In The Arena.” The address is used as a roadmap for addressing the massive challenges facing America today. The author channels Teddy Roosevelt’s thoughts into a call for action: to actually win wars fought, that Patriotism is not a bad word, America must have leadership abroad, and civic responsibility is important.
Hegseth explained he stumbled upon the quote in college.
“I printed out a copy, framed it, and took it with me where I served,” he said. “It is a reminder to me about fighting for worthy causes. I found it very motivating. I think it is ‘un-PC’ before there was PC. Roosevelt’s beliefs can be applied today, what people are craving for: a strong leader, strength, competiveness, and belief in America. It is a reminder to people why they love this country and a reflection on our founding father’s ideals. It is no accident Roosevelt is on Mount Rushmore with Washington, the leader in the fight for our independence; Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence; and Lincoln, the leader in the fight during the Civil War. I would argue Roosevelt got this country off to a good start, that the 20th Century was America’s century.”
Roosevelt talked about the dangers of division in a Republic.
“They fell, and the prime factor in their fall was the fact that the parties tended to divide. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted. The citizens of a republic should beware, and that is of the man who appeals to them to support him on the ground that he is hostile to other citizens of the republic, that he will secure for those who elect him, in one shape or another, profit at the expense of other citizens of the republic.”
To that end, Hegseth points out that Obama in 2008 spoke about the US not being a collection of individuals or red states and blue states, but today “we are more divided that ever. He has pitted rich against poor, black against white, those that don’t agree with his policies as war mongers, as he attempts to advance his fundamental transformation of America.”
Roosevelt also speaks about what today would be called the rules of engagement. He literally talks about those who refer to themselves as “citizens of the world.”
“I believe that a man must be a good patriot. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind.”
An infantry officer in the Army National Guard, he is a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay who holds two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his time overseas. As someone who served their country, Hegseth saw first hand how the rules of engagement have “become so burdensome, cumbersome, and legalistic that they restrict our war fighters on the battlefield. Are we willing to untie the hands of our war fighters so they can actually fight Islamic extremists? We worry more about oil truck drivers of ISIS who are called innocent civilians. Our trigger pullers cannot engage the enemy pre-emptively. We cannot bow down if we want to defeat an enemy that uses civilians. We have to be willing to get our hands dirty because of the shady tactics of our enemy. What we are seeing now are the seeds of the sixties generation who have never seen America as a force for good and saw America as not special. The ability to defend ourselves is important to maintain our sovereignty.”
“In The Arena” is a special book as it invokes the words of Teddy Roosevelt and makes them relevant to today. Hegseth takes the speech of Roosevelt and applies them to his 21st century beliefs. The author hopes that readers who believe in strength, leadership, and a good family structure will find this book informative, inspiring, and educational.