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The Limits of Power: The End of American…
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The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (edition 2008)

by Andrew Bacevich

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5132519,781 (3.85)18
Member:Sheila123
Title:The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
Authors:Andrew Bacevich
Info:Metropolitan Books (2008), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
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Tags:To Read, politics

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The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by Andrew Bacevich

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We Americans are in denial. as long as they insist that the power of the USA is without limits, they will continue to guzzle imported oil, binge on imports, dream imperial dreams. We will ignore the necessity of settling accounts, the budget, debt, and consumption as politicians (both parties) erode military might on unnecessary and winnable wars. We will continue to allow officials responsible for failed policies to dodge accountability. Are we willfully self-destructive? It often seems so. Bacevich analyzes the more dangerous national myths that currently (mis)guide American policy.

"The United States today finds itself threatened by three interlocking crises. The first of the crises is economic and cultural, the second political, and the third military. All three share this characteristic: They are of our own making."

Concerned about the direction the US is headed? You need to read this book. ( )
  bke | Mar 30, 2014 |
The Limits of Power is Andrew Bacevich’s (justly) acclaimed The New American Militarism distilled, streamlined, and rebalanced. It is a fiercer, angrier book than its predecessor—one that spends proportionally less time outlining the problem and more calling on the nation and its leaders to wake up and implement a solution.

The problem is the same one outlined in Militarism: An unsustainable state of perpetual war driven by a misguided ambition to remake the world in America’s image and so ensure a steady flow of the cheap petroleum to which we, as a society, have become addicted. Here, more than in Militarism, Bacevich points to the decades between 1960 and 1980 as the pivotal moment when the United States abandoned fiscal discipline and personal responsibility in favor of a culture of mindless consumerism, and an awareness of the human cost of war for a fantasy that technology could make it cheap and easy. What we sowed then, we have been reaping ever since, in Beirut and Mogdishu, Kabul and Baghdad. The solution, he concludes, is for the United States to grow up, abandon its delusions, and—recognizing that a perpetual war footing is not sustainable—re-learn the meaning of sacrifice.

Preference for this presentation of the argument over the one in Militarism will be, for the most part, a matter of rhetorical taste. The former book is, to use an oversimplified analogy, condensed lecture course in the history of American foreign policy; this one is a radically extended op-ed essay. The former offers more depth and nuance, this one has a clearer through-line and passion in sufficient quantities to edge it toward “jeremiad” territory. Read Militarism for depth of understanding it promotes, or Limits for material to enliven your next impromptu political argument, or both . . . either way, though, read Bacevich. ( )
  ABVR | Jan 27, 2014 |
This short book by Andrew Bacevich deserves close attention from everyone concerned about the direction our country has been traveling. He dissects root causes and incompetence ruthlessly and reasonably, which is just what a new Administration and Congress need to read. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Thin gruel. This reads like an extended Op-Ed piece, and serves as a demonstration of the short shelf-life of books in the Current Affairs section. Anyone who has been paying attention for the last two decades will find little that is original here. Libraries full of books have been written on topics that Bacevich skims over. He runs through a jumble of failures in US foreign policy, and his diagnoses are often contradictory: Is the problem American Culture, or a cynical political class? The Imperial Presidency, or the diverging bureaucratic interests of competing government agencies? Incompetent generals, or wrongheaded Wise Men determined to implement unworkable policies? Bacevich frequently concludes some muddled passage with an axiom from Reinhold Niebuhr, for an illusion of intellectual heft. There are also the requisite references to Clausewitz and C. Wright Mills.

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3 vote MusicalGlass | Apr 4, 2012 |
This book - which purports to be a look back at fundamental ideas underlying American foreign policy, the use of military power, and America's role in the world/history - was initially interesting but ended up being mostly a screed against Bush 2. And while I really have nothing to say for Bush 2, I wasn't really interested in reading about how awful his foreign policy decisionmaking was. I think we all see that pretty clearly. This book is a couple years old, however, its possible I might have had more use for it then. ( )
1 vote fannyprice | Jul 11, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805088156, Hardcover)

From an acclaimed conservative historian and former military officer, a bracing call for a pragmatic confrontation with the nation's problems

The Limits of Power identifies a profound triple crisis facing America: the economy, in remarkable disarray, can no longer be fixed by relying on expansion abroad; the government, transformed by an imperial presidency, is a democracy in form only; U.S. involvement in endless wars, driven by a deep infatuation with military power, has been a catastrophe for the body politic. These pressing problems threaten all of us, Republicans and Democrats. If the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism.

Andrew J. Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the illusions that have governed American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power and its limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion to claims of exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force; and a conviction that the books will have to balance. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich argues, can provide common ground for fixing America’s urgent problems before the damage becomes irreparable.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The Limits of Power identifies a profound triple crisis facing America: the economy, in remarkable disarray, can no longer be fixed by relying on expansion abroad; the government, transformed by an imperial presidency, is a democracy in form only; U.S. involvement in endless wars, driven by a deep infatuation with military power, has been a catastrophe for the body politic. These pressing problems threaten all of us, Republicans and Democrats. If the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism. Andrew J. Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the illusions that have governed American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power and its limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion to claims of exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force; and a conviction that the books will have to balance. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich argues, can provide common ground for fixing America's urgent problems before the damage becomes irreparable.--From publisher description.… (more)

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