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Copyright (c) 2010 Naval Law Review

ARTICLE, ESSAY & NOTE: THE LIMITS OF POWER: THE END OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM 1

2010

Naval Law Review

60 Naval L. Rev. 215

Author

Major Scott A. DiRocco 2

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

Starting with the quote on the publisher's page, Andrew Bacevich sets the tone for his latest book. In The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Bacevich diagnoses what ails the United States, individually and collectively, and explains how those shortcomings are reducing our international standing and power. It is a warning that America must view itself, and its place in the world, objectively. If not, we will lose the ability to chart our own destiny.

American Exceptionalism refers to the theory that America has a "uniqueness of character and purpose" among nations in various aspects from government to religion to democracy. 4 It is this belief in our exceptionalism, Bacevich argues, that our leaders have relied upon to attempt to exercise hegemony over the world and reshape it in our image. Today, however, in the midst of an eight-year "global war on terror" with no end in sight, this belief in our exceptionalism threatens to erode our national power.

Bacevich's background alone demands attention. A 1969 graduate of West Point, Bacevich served in the Army for over 20 years before retiring as a Colonel in the early 1990s. Following his distinguished military career, Bacevich earned a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic Relations from Princeton University. He was a professor at West Point and Johns Hopkins before moving to Boston University in 1998. 5

Bacevich organizes his assessment of America into three crises: the crisis of profligacy, the political crisis, and ...
 
 
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