Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Bacevich’s dense text may not be ideal for an “Andrew Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who’s in power, which may be why those of both the left and right listen to him.”—Bill Moyers. “Andrew Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who’s in power, which may be why those of both the left and right listen to him.”—Bill Moyers An immediate. Andrew J. Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism ( New York: Metropolitan Books, ), pp., $ Andrew Bacevich’s latest .

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They are of our own making. Recent events have confirmed much of his argument, often tragically, especially his identification of xndrew reliance on military action for the solution to international problems. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University and retired U. For the average American tuning in to the nightly news, reports of U. War Without Exits For the United States, the ancrew of the Cold War yielded neither a “peace dividend” nor anything remotely resembling peace.

He offers the options of containment and selective engagement as promising strategic approaches. Meanwhile, a stubborn insistence on staying the course militarily ends up jeopardizing freedom at home.

His book should be read by every concerned US citizen. As Bacevich puts it, President Reagan told Americans what they wanted to hear. Niebuhr once wrote, “One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun.

Bacevich argues that if the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: The changes have been both qualitative and quantitative. Bush and members of his administration outlined a campaign against terror that they suggested might last decades, if not longer. For the present generation, it has already become part of the natural order of things that GIs should be exerting themselves at great cost to pacify such far- off domains.


April 16, Welcome to The Blog Moreover, the basic nature of war is also here to stay. Especially since the s, freedom itself has undercut the nation’s ability to fulfill its commitments. Powe Iraq War deserves our attention as the clearest manifestation of these three crises, demonstrating the extent to which they are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. Reprinted with kind permission from Henry Holt. The Limits of Power will suggest that this heedless worship of freedom has been a mixed blessing.

Menu Skip to content. Successive administrations, abetted by Congress, have deepened a looming crisis of debt and dependency through unbridled spending. Yet if pressed, Washington did not hesitate to use force, as its numerous military adventures during the s demonstrated.

Yet there, too, having exaggerated our military might, we court bankruptcy. In others, it might be cause for regret. Moreover, a state of perpetual national security emergency aggravates the disorders afflicting our political system, allowing the executive branch to accrue ever more authority at the expense of the Congress and disfiguring the Constitution.

Andrew Bacevicha professor of history and international relations at Boston University, retired from the U. The resulting sense of entitlement has great implications for foreign policy. Niebuhr once wrote disapprovingly of Americans, their lf soft limkts vulgar, equating joy with happiness and happiness with comfort. Although critics of U. As a result, sustaining our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness at home requires increasingly that Americans look beyond our borders.

The indispensable nation’s chief prerogative, self assigned, was to establish and enforce the norms governing the post-Cold War international order.

In his ilmits effort, Bacevich concentrates on the lessons to be learned from U. Instead, what was hailed as a historic victory gave way bacsvich immediately to renewed lomits and conflict. Of perhaps even greater difficulty, lmits combination of economic, political, and military crisis summons Americans to reexamine exactly what freedom entails. Rather than insisting that the world accommodate the United States, Americans need to reassert control over their own destiny, ending their condition of dependency and abandoning their imperial delusions.

Odd as they may seem, these priorities reflected a core principle of national security policy: The purveyors of shock and awe still have to contend with a determined enemy on the ground. Good fortune and a position of apparent preeminence placed the United States “under the most grievous temptations to self- adulation. The enemy of humility is sanctimony, which gives rise to the conviction that American values and beliefs are universal and that the nation itself serves providentially assigned purposes.


As members of a community, especially as members of a national community, they choose to contribute less.

Bill Moyers Journal . THE LIMITS OF POWER | PBS

Freedom is not static, nor is it necessarily benign. We teeter on the edge of insolvency, desperately trying to balance accounts by relying on our presumably invincible armed forces. That President Bush seems oblivious to their very existence offers one mea sure of his shortcomings as a statesman.

Bacevich identifies James Forrestal, the first U. Niebuhr entertained few illusions about the nature of man, the possibilities of politics, or the pliability of history.

In our public discourse, freedom is not so much a word or even a value as an incantation, its very mention enough to stifle doubt and terminate all debate.

In the years that followed, Americans became inured to reports of U.

The Limits of Power

He is the author of The New American Militarismamong other books. Realism in this sense implies an obligation to see the world as it actually is, not as we might like it to be. Meanwhile, from the Carter administration through the Reagan presidency the military was continually building both politically and ideologically for a major effort in the Persian Gulf region.

The status of the United States as “sole superpower” appeared unassailable. Yet ironically Iraq may yet prove to be the source of our salvation.

Gauging their implications requires that we acknowledge their source: The connection between these two tendencies is a causal one.

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