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.
The United States has been "at war" in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade. Yet as war has become normalized, a yawning gap has opened between America's soldiers and veterans and the society in whose name they fight. For ordinary citizens, as former secretary of defense Robert Gates has acknowledged, armed conflict has become an "abstraction" and military service "something for other people to do."
In Breach of Trust, bestselling author Andrew J. Bacevich takes stock of the separation between Americans and their military, tracing its origins to the Vietnam era and exploring its pernicious implications: a nation with an abiding appetite for war waged at enormous expense by a standing army demonstrably unable to achieve victory. Among the collateral casualties are values once considered central to democratic practice, including the principle that responsibility for defending the country should rest with its citizens.
Citing figures as diverse as the martyr-theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the marine-turned-anti-warrior Smedley Butler, Breach of Trust summons Americans to restore that principle. Rather than something for "other people" to do, national defense should become the business of "we the people." Should Americans refuse to shoulder this responsibility, Bacevich warns, the prospect of endless war, waged by a "foreign legion" of professionals and contractor-mercenaries, beckons. So too does bankruptcy—moral as well as fiscal.
The United States is in the process of staking out not just the globe but the last unarmed spot in our neighborhood-the heavens-as a militarized sphere of influence. Our earth and its skies are, for the Bush administration, the final frontiers of imperial control. In Hegemony or Survival , Noam Chomsky investigates how we came to this moment, what kind of peril we find ourselves in, and why our rulers are willing to jeopardize the future of our species.
With the striking logic that is his trademark, Chomsky dissects America's quest for global supremacy, tracking the U.S. government's aggressive pursuit of policies intended to achieve "full spectrum dominance" at any cost. He lays out vividly how the various strands of policy-the militarization of space, the ballistic-missile defense program, unilateralism, the dismantling of international agreements, and the response to the Iraqi crisis-cohere in a drive for hegemony that ultimately threatens our survival. In our era, he argues, empire is a recipe for an earthly wasteland.
Lucid, rigorous, and thoroughly documented, Hegemony or Survival promises to be Chomsky's most urgent and sweeping work in years, certain to spark widespread debate.
Although based on expectations that eliminating barriers to the movement of trade, capital, and ideas nurtures not only affluence but also democracy, the aggressive pursuit of openness has met considerable resistance. To overcome that resistance, U.S. policymakers have with increasing frequency resorted to force, and military power has emerged as never before as the preferred instrument of American statecraft, resulting in the progressive militarization of U.S. foreign policy.
Neither indictment nor celebration, American Empire sees the drive for openness for what it is--a breathtakingly ambitious project aimed at erecting a global imperium. Large questions remain about that project's feasibility and about the human, financial, and moral costs that it will entail. By penetrating the illusions obscuring the reality of U.S. policy, this book marks an essential first step toward finding the answers.
1. The Myth of the Reluctant Superpower
2. Globalization and Its Conceits
3. Policy by Default
4. Strategy of Openness
5. Full Spectrum Dominance
6. Gunboats and Gurkhas
7. Rise of the Proconsuls
8. Different Drummers, Same Drum
9. War for the Imperium