By Ken Rogers
The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, a slender volume, literally seeths with anger as the author Andrew J. Bacevich directly skewers failed politicians and generals who have since Vietnam put the country in a real hurt. He identifies key issues that provide evidence for his argument -- when the balance of trade went south, when self-professed small-government politicians expanded the scope and scale of the national government, and when America began to lie to itself about spreading democracy through the world, intervention and oil consumption.
Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam Veteran, has a doctorate in history from Princton and was a Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He's the real deal.
His book make the case not for American exceptionalism, but realism and humility. He's big on Reinhold Niebuhr.
He published The Limits of Power after his son was killed in in May of 2007. His son was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was killed in the fighting in Iraq.
And that's why he's so angry, I think. But in his anger there's more than a little truth. Since reading The Limits of Power, I've gone back to his previous book, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduce by War, and find a less angry book, bu the same indictement of the presidency, congress and the military.
Bacevich is a mustread as we go into 2009.