AMERICAN EMPIRE: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy

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AMERICAN EMPIRE: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy, Andrew J. Bacevich, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002, 320 pages, $29.95.

American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S Diplomacy is a contemporary history of U.S. foreign and military policy since the end of the Cold War. Andrew Bacevich, a former Army officer and a Professor of International Relations at Boston University, is uniquely qualified to write a book about America's use of diplomacy and military force in pursuit of its interests in the international arena.

Although the book focuses on the years after the Cold War, one of Bacevich's central themes is that, for the entire 20th century, the U.S. foreign and military policy reflected much more continuity than it changed. U.S. statecraft consistently pursued the objective of an "open and integrated international order based on the principles of democratic capitalism, with the United States as the ultimate guarantor of order and enforcer of norms."

American Empire offers military audiences a lucid account of military force in pursuit of policy from Somalia to Kosovo. More salient, however, are the chapters titled "Full Spectrum Dominance" and "The Rise of the Proconsuls," where Bacevich offers a cogent assessment of the state of civil-military relations. In "Full Spectrum Dominance," Bacevich argues how the U.S. military's continued preference for the big-war (conventional) paradigm of the Cold War era, and the heavy tanks that are inherent in such a paradigm, has impeded the military's ability to transform.

Bacevich's argument is a Utopian paradox-a contradiction that on the one hand finds the U.S. Army an instrument of policy while on the other hand it focuses on a big-war paradigm. The U.S. military's exclusive cultural preference for a big-war paradigm and its resistance to change, either by the changing security environment or its political leaders, impeded Transformation and made the U. …


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