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Power and Willpower in the American Future: Why the United States Is Not Destined to Decline Paperback – June 21, 2012
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"If there is anything that commands general agreement today it is that the US is declining. Lieber shows that much of the reasoning and claims here are not only superficial, but flatly wrong. His argument that the US has the economic and political resources to play the leading role in world if it chooses to do so deserves attention by scholars and members of the concerned public." - Robert Jervis, Columbia University, author of American Foreign Policy in a New Era
"There is so much facile soothsaying on America's future as a has-been-as there was in the past four waves of Declininism since Sputnik. Power and Willpower is a much-needed counter to the fifth wave, written by one of the country's authoritative scholars of U.S. foreign policy." - Josef Joffe, Senior Fellow, Stanford University; Editor, Die Zeit (Germany)
"Robert Lieber offers a wise and lucid rebuttal to hyperbolic reports of American decline. His expertise on energy policy, Europe and the Middle East, all shine through, as does his long (and positive) view of American exceptionalism. He recognizes China's challenge but notes that Beijing faces looming problems of its own and still falls well short of being America's peer competitor. The real bulwarks against decline, he argues, are America's vast moral and material resources and its historic resilience. In this well-researched book, Lieber offers a bracing challenge to the declinist literature and its policy prescriptions." - Charles Lipson, Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
"Robert Lieber's clear, concise, and provocative analysis will become the starting point for the debate about the most important global issue of the next ten years: the future of American power in the world." - Michael Mandelbaum, Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; co-author of That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back
"Deserves a place at the top of the must-read list ... [a] shining contribution to our understanding of America in the world." - PJ Media
"Those readers who prefer wisdom and good sense in their historical analysis...will get more out of reading Lieber." - The Weekly Standard
"Lieber provides a valuable dissenting voice to the growing literature on the decline of US power. Summing up: Highly recommended. General readers, undergraduate students and professionals" - J.R. Clardie, Cameron University, CHOICE magazine
"A concise and provocative book, Power and Willpower shows that America still remains, by many measures, the world's leading power" -Zachary Fredman, Boston University, H-Net Reviews
"This book charts new territory for other researchers to explore. It will undoubtedly stimulate a new set of inquiries and debates about the reasons why groups adopt nonviolence." -Sharon Erickson Nepstad, University of New Mexico, Perspectives on Politics
Top Customer Reviews
As someone who has spent most of my life living and studying foreign countries (including China), I think Lieber is correct. In my view, the United States remains the world's preponderant economic, military and political force without a real peer competitor.
I wish that Lieber had delved deeper into the root causes of our current difficulties. America's staying power, he says, will ultimately be determined more by political will than material resources. But he only suggests that since the end of the Cold War we have been saddled with weak leaders (each with different sets of flaws) who have allowed our political class to evolve into irresponsible, bitter partisans. Our problems - debt, deficit, entitlements - could be solved with a spirit of compromise. Instead, national leaders and opinion makers use the imaginary American decline to explain away our dysfunctional government. Another Lieber book tackling that issue with the courage of this one would be welcome.
If human and material power offers superior potential, Lieber acknowledges the challenges of policy, leadership and political will. Willpower: will it be up to the potential that power gives the US? As the author acknowledges, "Ultimately, elite and popular beliefs, policy choices, and leadership remain critical in shaping outcomes." In decades past, ideological foes made common cause for the national good, and also over common-sense, pragmatic initiatives that would serve a growing middle class. Now, unfortunately, we face the opposite trend, and it is to be hoped that strongly negative ratings of political institutions and leaders will ultimately result in a badly needed course change in the nation's capital.
In the space of 172 elegantly written pages, Lieber offers a brilliant antidote to the "no can do" bemoaning set. The challenges are clear, but so are the opportunities. A must read.
Jan Kalicki, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Given the prominence of authors declaring the looming decline of American power and the end of the American era, Dr. Lieber's book is a refreshing take on a well-worn question. Dr. Lieber points out that the end of American dominance has been proclaimed time and time again, each instance followed by a declaration that (insert country name here) will overtake the United States and the world's major economic, military, diplomatic, and cultural superpower. Yet, each time, the declinists' arguments have been proven wrong, but Dr. Lieber's argument for the continuation of American power still stands.
Power and Willpower offers the argument one more time. This time, Dr. Lieber addresses the oft-repeated thesis that the 21st century belongs to the Chinese by re-evaluating the data of China's rise and demonstrating that the United States continues to dominate the international arena in every category.
The most important aspect of this book, however, is Dr. Lieber's recognition of the unique global conditions which now characterize international relations. Dr. Lieber argues that American dominance in the 21st century is not inevitable and that the United States has a number of economic hurdles to overcome.
Overall, this is an excellent and easily digestible, yet still academic, book from an experienced scholar that offers an unpopular, but refreshing perspective on an old issue.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This novel, while it does present some valid points and interesting evidence, the overall sense I came away with was one of skepticism, as it seemed that Mr. Read morePublished on June 21, 2014 by Smcfarland
I read 'Power and Willpower in the American Future' with high expectations as I had read several other books by Robert Lieber. It did not disappoint. Read morePublished on July 17, 2012 by REW
The question of how shifts in the global distribution of power will affect the world system over the coming century is the most important topic for international relations. Read morePublished on June 25, 2012 by Marty McFly
Book's argument amounts to "this time it's different". Relevant examples from history of nations in similar economic situations and what happened to them are ignored -... Read morePublished on May 19, 2012 by Kent Peterson