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The Short American Century: A Postmortem Hardcover – March 19, 2012
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Bracing and provocative. (Kirkus Reviews 2012-01-01)
This collection of essays constitutes a how-to manual for people who sense something deeply wrong with the current bipartisan consensus on American power, but can't quite articulate what it is. (Nick Baumann Commonweal 2012-05-18)
Declining empires are dangerous. Popular enlightenment is urgent, and this book...will help...It is a valuable step toward the self-knowledge Americans will need if we and the rest of the world are to survive the long centuries ahead. (George Scialabba Dissent 2012-06-01)
About the Author
Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University.
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But as to how and why we have conducted such policies in the past or how they may influence current policy the book has little to say. While I agree with Bacevich's conclusions he often seems a bit overwrought to me in his analyses. He simply pays too much attention to the politically motivated statements of our Presidents and not enough to the continuity of their actions. As LaFeber shows such a setting-up and knocking-down of a "straw man" is completely unnecessary to criticize both the aims and means of policy.
Perhaps the most useful takeaway is that America was probably singularly ill-equipped to take over the leadership role in the world when it did. That, combined with the build-up of the military industrial congressional complex, extremes of anti-communistic rhetoric (now replaced by anti-Islam?) the insane growth of Washington bureaucracy and the still rampant ethos of Ametican exceptional leaves one despairing that we can revert to a more balanced and more prudent approach.
"The Short American Century" is an opportunity to clear your mind and to think with a new perspective about our national agenda.
According to Bacevich's introduction, these discussions were intentionally meant to be critical rather than celebratory, for history needs to discomfit before it can teach. That is exactly what this book does.
Like many of us, Bacevich rues the money-driven drift that has brought us to this impovershed spiritual place. Unlike most of us, he has the credentials to back up his analyses. One has the feeling that he has sacrificed a great deal in order to tell the truth in such a direct manner.
This book is valuable in that it makes honor, and the precepts of honor as defined in a military sense, real and understandable. And that simplifies things in an age of spin.
Bacevich bemoans the loss of American sovereignty in a globalized world, and he aches for the service men and women who sacrifice the most as well as the manner in which they see all too many of their beliefs shattered.
Would that America knew Andrew Bacevich better than it does Oliver North. But then, it would have to know itself.
Col. Bacevich does, however, give one the impression that he would sacrifice so much more in behalf of the goodness of the American republic, (what's left of it,) and its people.
He inspires me to want to rebuild.