Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sobre o livro "The Limits of Power"

Seguindo a tradição do Daniel Uchida, vou despejar uns reviews de livros aqui. Vou começar pelo The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.

Tá em inglês porque escrevi originalmente pra butar na Amazon.

Em resumo, eu recomendo a leitura, desde que você fique com um pé atrás com as afirmações corajosas do autor (um Coronel aposentado que é cumpanheiro de luta do Noam Chomsky).


Very interesting reading, but sometimes lacks references and misses key issues., September 19, 2008
By Yves Junqueira

This is a good book that people should read if they are interested in a critical outline of the US foreign policy.

The author is not afraid to show his positions right in the first lines, so don't expect a journalistic review of happenings or a scientific listing of evidences. The author wants to make a point: that the US foreign policy has been running to the wrong direction for a long time and the recent screw ups (Afghanistan and Iraq wars) are a continuation of what's being done for a few generations.

The basic argument is that the ideology of freedom has lead to exaggerated consumerism by the american people and to a feeling of "more is better". Since the US is not self sufficient in oil and other goods, it has been acting as an expansionist empire in order to sustain the "american way of life", specially since the post-WW2 golden era.

Bacevich discusses many bad consequences of the "global dominance" policy and makes one prediction: that this will end up badly for the US and its citizens.

Now, while I like reading a book where the author has strong convictions, I take them with a grain of salt. He makes many bold statements, like predicting how the future will look like, but without mentioning historical evidence or references to explain why.

As a history professor, he could have made use of stronger historical references to illustrate his argument that the "more is better" behavior and the consumerism are bad things in the long run. At the same time, he found time to discuss less important issues, like the psychological profile and personality of Paul Wolfowitz. I'm not saying I was expecting a scientific thesis, but that he just didn't convince me.

Andrew Bacevich says things look bad and will get worse, and not just from a military point of view. The "more is better" can't work in the long run, he says.

But one could argue that from a historical perspective the US economy is still in a very good shape. Also, moral and ecological issues aside, the strategy of acting as an expansionist empire is proven to be very successful, unfortunately, at least for some time. Even for several decades or centuries! I missed a more detailed discussion of this particular subject.

So if you want to see what's wrong with the US military operations and its foreign policy, you should read this book. It discusses many issues that are just plain wrong in the US, so it's really interesting (although the author doesn't always cite his sources or references, specially not for the White House tales, which really bothered me).

But whoever liked this book and would like to jump to something more dense, those should read "Tout empire périra" by Jean-Baptiste Duroselle. It describes a remarkable theory of how international empires are created, how they expand and why they always disappear. - A quick look at Amazon.com doesn't show any translation to English, but you may want to search again. It's really worth it. I read the Brazilian Portuguese version 6 years ago at the university - when the US was still an unquestionable hegemon - and it's still one of my preferred books of International Relations.


PS: minha nota no review foi 3/5, mas o justo era 4. O problema é que a média na Amazon estava 4,5, um grande exagero, então dei uma forçadinha pra baixo.