The Limits of Power
The End of American Exceptionalism
"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 New York Times bestseller, The Limits of Power offers an unparalleled examination of the profound triple crisis facing America: an economy in disarray that can no longer be fixed by relying on expansion abroad; a government transformed by an imperial presidency into a democracy in name only; and an engagement in endless wars that has severely undermined the body politic.
Writing with knowledge born of experience, conservative historian and former military officer Andrew J. Bacevich argues that if the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism. In contrast to the multiple illusions that have governed American policy since 1945, he calls for respect for power and its limits; aversion to claims of exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force; and a conviction that Americans must live within their means. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich eloquently argues, can provide common ground for fixing America's urgent problems before the damage becomes irreparable.
In this caustic critique of the growing American "penchant for empire" and "sense of entitlement," Bacevich (The New American Militarism) examines the citizenry's complicity in the current "economic, political, and military crisis." A retired army colonel, the author efficiently pillories the recent performance of the armed forces, decrying it as "an expression of domestic dysfunction," with leaders and misguided strategies ushering the nation into "a global war of no exits and no deadlines." Arguing that the tendency to blame solely the military or the Bush administration is as illogical as blaming Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression, Bacevich demonstrates how the civilian population is ultimately culpable; in citizens' appetite for unfettered access to resources, they have tacitly condoned the change of "military service from a civic function into an economic enterprise." Crisp prose, sweeping historical analysis and searing observations on the roots of American decadence elevate this book from mere scolding to an urgent call for rational thinking and measured action, for citizens to wise up and put their house in order.
The best of its kind
Some time ago I made a decision only to read things that I can't put away. This is one of those reads. Crisp, intelligent, insightful and morosely real.