The Limits of Power identifies a profound triple
crisis facing America: the economy, in remarkable disarray, can no longer be
fixed by relying on expansion abroad; the government, transformed by an
imperial presidency, is a democracy in form only; U.S. involvement in endless
wars, driven by a deep infatuation with military power, has been a catastrophe
for the body politic. These pressing problems threaten all of us, Republicans
and Democrats. If the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival
of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism.
Andrew J. Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political
spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the illusions that have governed
American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power
and its limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion to claims of
exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force;
and a conviction that the books will have to balance. Only a return to such
principles, Bacevich argues, can provide common ground for fixing America’s
urgent problems before the damage becomes irreparable.
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