With The Limits of Power, Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University and retired U.S. Army colonel, continues his. “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 immediat. 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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Kagan is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, an institution that appears to support Pax Americana rather than a global democratic peace. He reminds us that we can destroy all that we cherish by pursuing an illusion of indestructibility.

Tags War and Foreign Policy. No doubt Washington did hope for enhanced American power, but it hardly follows from this that insulation from European struggles was intended as a temporary expedient.

The Limits of Power

America’s aggressive policy in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere is ultimately motivated by our refusal to restrict consumption:. Please help us continue with this vital mission.

In his penultimate chapter, Bacevich chronicles the debilitating effects that a culture of entitlement and a narrow mindset among policymakers have on the U. Political leaders have too often confused strategy with ideology, and, in turn, military leaders have tended to mistake operations for strategy.

What is wrong with the foreign policy of the national security state?

He vigorously opposes the argument that high-ranking military commanders should be given more latitude bacebich the field. Bacevich’s revisionism on Reagan is useful, but behind it lies a dubious thesis on which the author insists.


He promised to curtail government but instead expanded it:. The Farewell Address merely reflected America’s temporarily weak position: Bacevich charges that the overwhelming thrust toward military solutions and imperial ambitions undercuts the very successes these people have attained.

Forrestal’s personal life was a shambles: Bacevich writes with a passionate eloquence and moral urgency that makes this book absolutely compelling.

Book Review: The Limits of Power

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. Skip to main content. Army with the rank of colonel. Bacevich may deplore “conspicuous consumption,” but his Veblenesque theory does not account for our bellicose foreign policy.

By allowing empire to trump defense, what Bacevich calls the “national security state” failed miserably. WFP says Yemen food aid being stolen in Houthi-run areas. Politicians may argue that the military should make more use of reserves and draftees, but candid professional military people affirm that in their experience citizen-soldiers are more trouble than they are worth.

Home Articles Book Review: The American foreign-policy elite has indeed sought control of foreign resources, but this reflects its own quest for power and profit rather than an attempt to fulfill the demands of the rapacious consumer. Bacevich believes that constructive strategy in foreign policy must recognize that the U. Further, Stimson supported dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, albeit with some misgivings.

By drawing on critics of U. These similarities express four core convictions: Both an academic historian and a professional soldier, he is exceptionally qualified to undertake such a critique.

Bacevich argues that, far from promoting America’s safety, the policy embroils us in dangerous disputes that weaken us. Reliance on government power to impose U. Like Kagan, he confuses continental expansion with empire and great power politics. Public opinion is suspect; when it comes to national security, the public’s anointed role is to defer.


It grew, the bureaucracy swelling by nearly 5 percent while Reagan occupied the White House. He is the recipient of a Lannan award and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Hostile countries are no exception.

The Limits of Power by Andrew Bacevich | American Empire Project

The prudent statesman must take account of the “impossible possibilities” of the Gospels but could be guided neither by them nor by natural law precepts. His policy contrasted sharply with that of peace-loving President Hoover. In what way does the former imply the key doctrine of collective security? Metropolitan Books and Henry Holt, But if that war had a godfather, it was Ronald Reagan … [whose] real achievement in the Persian Gulf was to make a down payment on an enterprise destined to consume tens of thousands of lives, many American, many others not, along with hundreds of billions of dollars — to date, at least, the ultimate expression of American profligacy.

Before the war in Iraq started Robert Kagan wrote a wonderful little narcissistic view of the United States and its abilities to provide peace in a world of democratic capitalism. The Limits of Power.