The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism

1. Introduction

In his book “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism”, Andrew Bacevich addresses the existing failures of our political machinery due to badly conceived notions of empire building. He has been critical of American foreign policy since the Vietnam War and has written extensively on the topic of American imperialism.

2. America’s “endless quest for global dominion”

Bacevich criticizes what he sees as America’s “endless quest for global dominion” which he believes is motivated by a sense of Manifest Destiny. This Manifest Destiny, he argues, is not an accurate representation of American values but rather a distortion of them. He sees this as a dangerous path that can only lead to more unnecessary wars and conflict.

3. The Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War

Bacevich is also highly critical of the Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War. He believes that these were both examples of American hubris and overreach that have led to disastrous consequences. The Iraq War, in particular, he sees as a quagmire that has cost America dearly in blood and treasure.

4. The financial crisis of 2008

Bacevich also blames America’s political elites for the financial crisis of 2008. He argues that their negligence and deregulation led to the collapse of the housing market and the ensuing economic recession.

5. The problems with nuclear weapons and renewable energy

Bacevich believes that America’s obsession with nuclear weapons is a major contributor to global insecurity. He also criticizes our lack of investment in renewable energy, which he sees as a key to solving the climate change crisis.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, Bacevich offers a scathing critique of American foreign policy and its effects on the world stage. While some may disagree with his assessment, his book provides an important perspective on the current state of affairs in America.


Bacevich defines "the limits of power" as the point beyond which the use of military force to achieve objectives becomes counterproductive.

Bacevich cites specific examples such as the Vietnam War and the Iraq War to illustrate his argument.

Bacevich believes that Americans need to come to grips with the reality of these limits in order to avoid making costly mistakes in the future.