The Limit of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism In The Limit of Power by Andrew J. Bacevich, he argues about the major flaws Of United States with a general theme of “freedom” and how the U. S has an imperial ambition that uses military to try and guarantee ongoing consumption by the public for the economic power of the elite. Also he says that the fundamental flaw of American Foreign policy lies in the Imperial Presidency and the permanent Nation Security that controlled the formulation and executive of American Foreign Policy throughout the Cold War.
This partnership grew and it is now entrenched in our bureaucracy since that time. From this Bacevich identifies three crises that the United States is facing: crisis of profligacy, political crisis, and Military crisis; but the current crisis presents an opportunity to fundamentally address our course or face certain and dramatic decline. First the author introduced the title “The Limit of Power” as United States search for freedom that has raised responsibility and surged the country with mass amount of increasing debt; without a solution to pay it off.
Then he ties that in with the crisis of profligacy, where he discusses the ascendancy of the United States after World War II economic world order and the fundamental economic strength derived from the victory in the context of European and Japanese destruction. Earlier the United States achieved a stand of live that became the envy of the world, then that began to shift in the late Vietnam War period. This happened because post World War II the United States had been the number one producer of petroleum and later the companies determined the price of oil.
Then there developed a decline that was irreversible and the price setting of crude oil became the responsibility of a new producing group, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (p. 29). He moves on to talk about the economic decline and President Carters choice of energy dependency challenging Reagan’s optimism for the economy. This resulted in Reagan’s victory and a period of spending that was not supported by fundamental economic strength. Instead the trends then have only continued and debt has supplemented earning power in American life.
Then the bills for the “profligacy’ eventually came due and the American way of life has outstripped the means available to satisfy it. In account to the political crisis, Bacevich argues that in the post-World War II, Congress renounced its role in the checks and balance system, allowing for the creation of the Imperial Presidency. The National Security rendered this situation intolerable by displacing the voters as the final conciliators of the American policy. Many Presidents come and go, but the National Security stays in place, much to the detriment of any President coming to Washington thinking they will actually change anything.
Bacevich substantiates this with many examples of Presidents that become suspects of advisors. He also interposes the political crisis with a discussion about NSC-68; it provided the United States with an early sense of how the postwar habits of deferring to the Wise Men has wrought. The foreign policy exemplified by the two World War II era leaders, Henry Stimson and James Forrestal, showed their different styles; both were Wall Street republicans and served under Franklin D.
Roosevelt, but yet they both had different traditions. When Stimson served, he exemplified the conservative reaction to circumstances and that meant that he was cool and measured. On the other hand James Forrestal was more of a pessimist and tended to emphasize potential threats as always imminent. Unfortunately it got to him so much that he broke down and committed suicide. Bacevich explained that while Stimson remained respected, the majority of advisors emulated Forrestal (p. 107).
For the military crisis Bacevich builds on the previous crisis of profligacy and political crisis and moves into the area of his greatest strength of military policy. He puts together the various forms of conventional wisdom as they emerged at various times. Also he think that’s the endless War on Terror represents a clear over-extension of American capability and if continued will accelerate decline. Financially, the sputtering War on Terror and the unrealistic expectations of the American electorate will combine to continue unrealistic policies that solve nothing.
Bacevich then lays out that the axiom that all “Small Wars” are wars of empire, and that is not what we should be engaged in prosecuting. Bacevichs argument blamed the military and the Bush administration for the crises that is occurring in the United Sates as merely irrational. The crisis cannot be solved by sending men and women of this country to a war that is constantly degrading them. The author also mentions the Department of Defense for not doing their job and what they actually do has nothing to do with their job description; instead it specializes in power protection (p. ). Bacevich sees no relevance for the Department of Defense with the exception of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 11. He criticizes the government for reflecting its decision on the September 11 events. When the underlying problem is America’s failure to recognize that all our problems cannot be solved by replaces things like our head executive (president). The only way the U. S can move forward is realize that it is a hardworking, striving, independent country that long accomplished many things by working together to make American a place that it once was.
Bacevich continues on his criticism of the Department of Defense for being more accurately described as the Department of Power Projection and it needs to get back to doing defense. Furthermore, he ends the military crisis chapter by stating that the essential problem is not the size of our Army, but what we are asking it to do. Military capability does not make up for age old fixed costs of conflicts. Moreover, any foreign policy needs to be grounded in sound fiscal policy otherwise it is unsustainable in the long run.
For the most part I agree with Andrew Bacevichs viewpoints about the three of crisis that the United States is facing. He make a great point about how America and its citizens are a completely culture and have an entirely different mindset than just many decades ago. I completely applaud Bacevich for not holding back in diagnosing the problems that have long plagues the nation bust but are only now manifesting them to the public. This book is a must read because it is incumbent upon American people to arm themselves with what is happening to this country and what they can do as citizen.
The focus is to first recognizing our limits then we can change the course of the United State. To an absolute great way to sum everything up Andrew Bacevich said “To hard-core nationalists and neoconservatives, the acceptance of limits suggests retrenchment or irreversible decline. In fact, the reverse is true. Acknowledging the limits of American power is a precondition for stanching the losses of recent decades and for preserving the hard-won gains of earlier generations going back to the founding of the Republic”
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