Thursday, October 02, 2008

The End of American Exceptionalism


I had opportunity to read Andrew Bacevich's The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism while visiting my sister during her recent set-back in her struggle against ovarian cancer.

Bacevich's book is essential reading for those trying to understand the dramatic changes that are taking place in our country's economy and politics. He begins with a review of the "War Without Exits" and moves on to deal with "The Crisis of Profligacy." Next he discusses "The Political Crisis" and predicts it will be followed by a "Military Crisis." He contends that we have been pushed to the "Limits of Power" and concludes that the era of American exceptionalism is over. I highly recommend this book. It is a quick read and is hard to put down at a time when what he discusses is unfolding hourly in news reports.

The author is a retired Army colonel now teaching history and international relations at Boston University. The book is dedicated to the memory of his son, Andrew John Bacevich, who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq in May 2007.

Here's my favorite paragraph:

Pick the group: blacks, Jews, women, Asians, Hispanics, working stiffs, gays, the handicapped -- in every case, the impetus for providing equal access to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution originated among pinks, lefties, liberals, and bleeding-heart fellow travelers. When it came to ensuring that every American should get a fair shake, the contribution of modern conservatism has been essentially nil. Had Martin Luther King counted on William F. Buckley and the National Review to take up the fight against racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, Jim Crow would still be alive and well.

2 comments:

RonSpross said...

I think Bacevich is one of the premier American thinkers today. Other Bacevich resources are on the web.

A Moyers appearance: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/08152008/watch.html

A lecture related to his book:http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/buniverse/videos/view/?id=127

Various articles:
http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/mar/24/0002/

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/01/what_bush_hath_wrought/

His previous book, The New American Militarism, is worth one's time as well.

Ross McPhee said...

I recently saw Andrew Bacevich interviewed on Australian television.

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2007/s2252026.htm

One thing this interview highlighted was what he saw as Vice President Cheney's arrogance in continuing the Iraq War, despite the weight of American public opinion being against it.

I studied American politics and history at university, and have tried to take an interest in it ever since.