The Limits Of Power By Andrew Bacevich

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Textbook Analysis: The Limits of Power

Former military officer Andrew Bacevich, describes in his book, The Limits of Power, the

decline of America’s power. Using the three different causes and their origins, Bacevich takes

readers on a journey of decline, from conception to his Achilles Heel, the “generational war”

(Bacevich, 4). He uses his unique experiences within the military to ground his views and lay

blame with citizens and leaders alike. As a whole, Bacevich provides an informative, well-

written and colorful interpretation to the question of decline, citing real loses of power mixed

with an ever present hate for President George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq and

Afghanistan.
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The crisis of profligacy or culture, as he noted, has; perhaps, the most undeniable proof

of the United States of America’s loss of power. Bacevich acknowledges that after World War II,

America was responsible for more than half of the world’s manufacturing and two-thirds of the

planet 's gold reserves (Bacevich, 24). He adds that the country had a revenue from its foreign

trade balance and was accountable for one-third of world exports (Bacevich,24). These factors

are arguably proof of America’s dominance in the area just after the second world war.

However, he quickly counters with the American desire of “more” and the consequences of an

insatiable American public (Bacevich, 16).

Another crisis Bacevich wrote of was that of politics. He claims that American democracy

has decayed over the years with the president gaining too many unchecked powers

(Bacevich, 68). He charges congress with only occasionally trying to limit presidential powers,

and only doing so to gain an advantage for their party (Bacevich, 69). Bacevich also
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He accuses both Bush

and Rumsfeld of placing “yes men” around them leading them to the ill-advised conclusion that

Iraq did in-fact have weapons of mass destruction (Bacevich, 99-100). His disdain for Bush and

his administration was unmistakable throughout the book.

Contrary to Bacevich, prominent political scientist Joseph Nye, believes that America is not in

a decline. Nye asserts that America has retained its aforementioned power; but, other

countries are now becoming more powerful. In his book The Future of Power, Nye stays

superficial. He discusses types of power and which of those America needs to focus on without

ever specifically mentioning his own political beliefs. Nye chooses instead, to lay out a plan that

will guide both citizens and politicians alike to a desired power outcome. While, Nye does

layout a thorough plan, the pinnacle is what he calls, smart power. Nye describes smart power

as “finding ways to combine resources into successful strategies in the new context of power

diffusion” (Nye, 207-208). Nye offers a realistic approach to guiding the United States into

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