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Twilight of the American Century Kindle Edition
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About the Author
"The histories of empires and the histories of war are generally written by the winner to put themselves in a positive light. It has been difficult for the U.S. empire to maintain their facade of goodness for their endeavors after World War II, and even more significantly after 9/11. In Twilight of the American Century, a selection of his own collected writings, Andrew J. Bacevich reveals the contradictions between what is said about U.S. actions―either as anticipation or as definition―and the results of such actions. In essence, the rationalizations, the hubris, and the arrogance do not match up with the lack of accomplishments, the latter themselves ill-defined." (The Palestine Chronicle)
"This book is very unique in both its scope and in the positions that Bacevich takes on these very important issues impacting the United States and its relations with the outside world." (Philip E. Muehlenbeck, George Washington University)
“[Bacevich’s] writing transcends easy categorization. . . . The title suggests that the book will join the ranks of many recent works documenting the decline of American hegemony. (Law and Religion Forum)
“I read everything written by Andrew Bacevich with a maniacal obsession. His work provides a glimmer of hope for a return to realist sanity in American foreign policy. . . . Bacevich speaks the truths many Americans, and all their leaders, refuse to face.” (University Bookman)
“After more than 20 years of active service as a U.S. Army officer, Andrew J. Bacevich taught history and international relations at Boston University, where he is now an emeritus professor. His new book, Twilight of the American Century, examines the ambitions and failures of America’s foreign policy.” (The American Scholar)
"Since he left the US Army and thrust himself into the world of polemical journalism, Andrew Bacevich has distinguished himself with his toughness of mind, forcefulness of expression, and clear-eyed realism. All are displayed in this muscular volume of collected works―along with a bonus: an enlightening and touching autobiographical essay that lays bare much of the origin of his thinking." (Robert W. Merry, author of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century)
“ Twilight of the American Century is a profoundly intellectual, provocative work. It will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of both Democrats and Republicans. The book is a tough-minded call for liberals and conservatives to come together to ‘repair our democracy’ in the post-Vietnam War, post-Cold War, post-9/11 era.” (The VVA Veteran)
"In his new collection, Twilight of the American Century, Andrew Bacevich . . . an unsurpassed chronicler of America’s misadventures in the Middle East, turns his eye to Washington’s self-anointed elite. . . . Bacevich is at his best when he focuses on how America sees itself and how that distorted self-image affects its relations with the rest of the world." (The Nation)
"Andrew Bacevich is one of the sanest, most articulate, and most courageous voices in American public life today. A true conservative, he is a powerful critic of imperialism in the tradition of Christopher Lasch and Wiliam Appleman Williams―both of whom he discusses compellingly in this indispensable book. Twilight of the American Century reveals the wide range and undiminished vitality of his thought." (Jackson Lears, Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History, Rutgers University) --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- File Size : 1225 KB
- Publication Date : November 15, 2018
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 503 pages
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07C36SZ43
- Publisher : University of Notre Dame Press (November 15, 2018)
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #712,838 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This was the first book that I read by this author. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been. I have to admit, I struggled with reviewing this book. It was not the book I expected it to be. This author, but not this book, was recommended by a colleague who was well aware of my dissatisfaction of the current wars that the United States is involved in and my desire to learn more about them. Bacevich was recommend as a History of our current wars. Unfortunately, I did not catch the title of what I should read and I got it wrong.
First a necessary disclaimer: I am the same age as the author (we were born only 25 days apart, within 600 miles of each other.) We both went to West Point, the author in the class of 1969, I in the class of 1973, both during the Vietnam War. He served as an Armor Officer while I served as an Engineer. We both were professors at the United States Military Academy from which we graduated. We both retired from the US Army at nearly the same time. Then both of us became college professors, he in History and I in Mechanical Engineering. And we both retired as Professor Emeritus. We both are nontraditional conservatives in political outlook. But throughout all of the possible places we have in common, I cannot ever remember meeting him or even knowing of him.
This book was not what I expected it to be: I expected a cohesive, if lengthy, work expounding on the American Century, generally recognized to be the 20th Century. The disparate essays lose their cohesiveness of thought at times. I expected it to be a Military History with emphasis on our current wars. To some extent, it met this last objective but not as I expected.
What this book actually is, is an anthology of 51 well written essays that the author has published, often in obscure places, from 2001 to 2017. The organization of the order of the essays is not always clear. The author has grouped the essays into four thematic headings with essays seemingly in reverse order of publication: the newest first with the earliest published, last. In some cases, the themes overlap and in others, I question why the essays are part of the theme. But I was not the author and I do not share the same views of organization.
The book is a morphology of Bacevich’s thought over time as significant events and new politicians emerge. In addition, he takes the time to be critical of David Brooks, George Kennan, Tom Clancy and others, who are illustrative of a period of time but are not actual contributors to the events that occurred nor particularly formative of Bacevich’s thought. After reading these criticisms, I dare say I would not have wanted to be a Plebe in his Cadet Company, C1, while he was an Upper Classman. He quotes one of his mentors, a Mr. Burke, as having a sarcastic bent as to be almost cruel. Rest assured, Mr. Burke, your tutelage has found a mark!
The basic themes that emerge are these:
1) American people changed from World War II as concerned citizens willing to serve the needs of their country to disengaged citizens willing to pay lip service to its state without providing any sacrifices to meet its needs.
2) Freedom has changed in meaning from a belief of an unencumbered life with minimum interference but living responsible for the common and shared good of society with to one of individual autonomy without responsibilities.
3) The United States has changed from being a model of freedom to the world to that of forcing freedom on the world.
4) Americans do not learn from their History.
5) Whereas at the beginning of the American Century, we saw war as necessary evil to be used as the last resort, in the “Twilight,” war has become the overriding means of US Policy when whichever state or militant group disputes the self-defined “American way of life.”
6) Our current wars did not “just happen,” they are the fruit of the United States’ failed foreign policies of the past.
7) Americans, both as citizens and in high offices, believe technology and the information age data wins wars while the reality of our recent wars and our inability to conclude these wars demonstrates that the opposite is true.
8) The current limitation of war by the United States, is people willing to serve (consistent with their unwillingness to sacrifice for the needs of the state,) not money or other resources.
This is not a totally inclusive list: each of the 51 essays has it own theme, many of which are not reflected above. But I think these more than others seem to pop out.
The themes are problems for the United States and its future. If this indeed the case, then what are the solutions, the cure for the illnesses? Here, I find the essays incredibly light in actionable ideas. Bacevich seems to promote these starting points:
1) Our foreign policy people need to read and internalize Reinhold Niebuhr’s “The Irony of American History.”
2) The US needs to move towards a foreign policy of containment of our adversaries rather than destroy them in war.
3) The US needs to extract its military forces from its current wars.
4) Our politicians need to learn to use military force as a last resort and return the US to a nation that is, not ever, the aggressor. This means disabusing the Carter, Clinton and Bush Doctrines as guidance of our military actions.
5) Americans need to be personally accountable to what our military are doing and for all that occurs while not passing the problems and the bills for these actions off to their grandchildren.
6) We need to reconstruct a citizen-soldier model without conscription rather than the professional force it currently is where 1% of US citizens serve and 1% of US Citizens get rich off of those serving.
As a conservative, he recommends that conservatives quit following their radicals and extremist ideologues and move to a middle point where some of our well-meaning people on the left have exposed real problems in America and that these do need solutions. Rather than focus on retrenchment of the last Democratic Party initiatives, conservatives and Republicans need to have need ideas about solving the problems that the Democratic initiatives were meant to solve and, furthermore, if the Democratic initiatives are working, acknowledge this and move on. Pick the right fights and the right enemies and “forge smart tactical alliances.”
I cannot find an effective strategy in this book for combatting one of its major themes: that of the autonomous individual without responsibilities who is imbued with consumption and a ‘more is good’ philosophy that corrupts our culture. Bacevich does state that American citizenship needs to be taught in the schools and I also firmly believe that. But that alone is not enough in an age where every 8 minutes, while being entertained, one receives a message about the great benefits of some product they need.
Can I recommend this book? That is the great question I have after reading it. There are certainly many truths in the book if one has the perseverance to read all of it. I could not read the book straight through: it was wearisome because the essays did not connect from one to the other. Do I think I benefitted from reading it? Yes, absolutely. It gave me a lot of things to think about. So, I cannot and will not answer the question about recommendation.
I do not accept the claim that the motivating principle is to bring the light of liberal democracy to the benighted peoples of the world, no matter how misguided or inadvisable the attempt. Though hardly as eloquent and all but uneducated, I believe Smedley Butler far more insightful on the subject, claiming as he did the root purpose for deploying America's military on foreign adventures is in the service of rapacious greed, war profiteering and disaster capitalism.
I don't believe Mr. Bacevich's expositions on the exploitation of the military in pursuit of political aims can possibly be complete until the financial aspects are duly considered in his theses.