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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Of perhaps even greater significance, it is both counterproductive and unsustainable. An Anatomy of American Nationalism. Well- trained and equipped U. All three share this characteristic: What is its content?

Bill Moyers Journal . THE LIMITS OF POWER | PBS

Bush and members of his administration outlined a campaign against terror that they suggested might last decades, if not longer. 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.

In contrast to the multiple illusions that have governed American policy sincehe calls for respect for power and its limits; aversion to claims of andfew skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force; and a conviction that Americans must live within their means.

Successive administrations, abetted by Congress, have deepened a looming crisis of debt and dependency through unbridled spending. He remains ominously pessimistic that any baecvich leader can change the current course of U. Niebuhr once wrote disapprovingly of Americans, their “culture soft and vulgar, equating joy with happiness and happiness with comfort. In his latest effort, Bacevich concentrates on the lessons to be learned from U. The indispensable nation’s chief prerogative, self assigned, was to establish and enforce the norms governing the post-Cold War international powef.

In many ways, the condition of the military today offers the most urgent expression of that dysfunction. Moreover, Bacevich argues, President George W. 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.


Robert HeinemanAlfred University. Seeing themselves as a peaceful people, Americans remain wedded to the conviction that the conflicts in which they find themselves embroiled are not of their own making.

Although Americans seem to be intent on saddling the rest of the world with their form of freedom, their domestic profligacy and military adventurism have made them more baevich on foreign resources, such as oil, and more vulnerable to attacks from renegade terrorist elements.

When it came to defending vital American interests, asserting control over the imperial periphery took precedence over guarding the nation’s own perimeter. August 15, Andrew J. He vigorously opposes the argument that high-ranking military commanders should be given more latitude in the field.

In the Pentagon, senior military officers spoke in terms of “generational war,” lasting up to ,imits century. In the years that followed, Americans became inured anrdew reports of U. Political leaders have too often confused strategy with ideology, and, in pimits, military leaders have tended to mistake operations for strategy. In others, it might be cause for regret. The resulting sense of entitlement has great implications for foreign policy.

For the average American tuning in to the nightly news, reports of U. In Andrew Bacevich, realism and moral vision meet.

The Limits of Power

The collapse of the Soviet Union appeared to offer an opportunity to expand and perpetuate that empire, creating something akin to a global Pax Americana. As individuals, Americans never cease to expect more. Simply put, as the American appetite for freedom has grown, so too has our penchant for empire.

Especially since the s, freedom itself poer undercut the nation’s ability to fulfill its commitments. Bacevich argues that if the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: They reflect the accumulated detritus of freedom, the by- products of our frantic pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

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With Americans, even in war time, refusing to curb their appetites, the Long War aggravates the economic contradictions that continue to produce debt and dependency. Yet ironically Iraq may yet prove to be the source of our salvation.

Andrew Bacevicha professor of history and international relations at Boston University, retired from the U. The enemy of realism is hubris, which in Niebuhr’s day, and in our own, finds expression in an outsized confidence in the efficacy of American power as an instrument to reshape the global order. Bacevich has posted a new entry on the blog: American power has limits and is inadequate to the ambitions to which hubris and sanctimony have given rise.

They fail to recognize that the status of the richest, most powerful nation the world has ever seen was achieved not through government direction, but through the hard work of many striving, independent, and unregulated individuals. Expectations that the world beyond our borders should accommodate the American way of life are hardly new.

As members of a community, especially as members of a national community, they choose to contribute less. In effect, Americans now confront a looming military crisis to go along with the economic and political crises that they have labored so earnestly to ignore. In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, few questioned that assumption. Iraq has revealed the futility of counting on military power to sustain our habits of profligacy. The institution nominally referred to as the Department of Defense didn’t actually do defense; it specialized in power projection.

The Limits of Power. These are fundamental questions, which cannot be dismissed with a rhetorical wave of the hand. In point of fact, however, globalization served as a euphemism for soft, or informal, empire.