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Power and Willpower in the American Future
Why the United States Is Not Destined to Decline

$28.99 (P)

  • Date Published: April 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521281270

$ 28.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • To argue against the widely proclaimed idea of American decline, as this book does, might seem a lonely task. After all, the problems are real and serious. Yet if we take a longer view, much of the discourse about decline appears exaggerated, hyperbolic, and ahistorical. Why? First, because of the deep underlying strengths of the United States. These include not only size, population, demography, and resources, but also the scale and importance of its economy and financial markets, its scientific research and technology, its competitiveness, its military power, and its attractiveness to talented immigrants. Second, there is the weight of history and of American exceptionalism. Throughout its history, the United States has repeatedly faced and eventually overcome daunting challenges and crises. Contrary to a prevailing pessimism, there is nothing inevitable about American decline. Flexibility, adaptability, and the capacity for course correction provide the United States with a unique resilience that has proved invaluable in the past and will do so in the future. Ultimately, the ability to avoid serious decline is less a question of material factors than of policy, leadership, and political will.

    • Makes a compelling case for American adaptability and long term strengths, in contrast to pessimistic predictions of decline
    • Provides important historical context, including examples of America overcoming past crises
    • Valuable for current debates about America's future
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “The United States is experiencing another bout of anxiety regarding its relative power. While he is sober about the challenges confronting the nation, Robert Lieber makes a convincing case that, as in the past, fears of American decline will prove to have been greatly exaggerated. The United States has the resources necessary to continue to play the part of the world's preponderant power; the question is whether its leaders, and its people, will have the necessary wisdom and resolve. On this count, as Lieber makes plain, there is every reason for optimism.” — Aaron L. Friedberg, Princeton University

    “If there is anything that commands general agreement today it is that the US is declining. Lieber shows that much of the reasoning and claims here are not only superficial, but flatly wrong. His argument that the US has the economic and political resources to play the leading role in world if it chooses to do so deserves attention by scholars and members of the concerned public.” — Robert Jervis, Columbia University, author of American Foreign Policy in a New Era

    “There is so much facile soothsaying on America's future as a has-been—as there was in the past four waves of Declininism since Sputnik. Power and Willpower is a much-needed counter to the fifth wave, written by one of the country’s authoritative scholars of U.S. foreign policy.” — Josef Joffe, Senior Fellow, Stanford University; Editor, Die Zeit (Germany)

    “Robert Lieber offers a wise and lucid rebuttal to hyperbolic reports of American decline. His expertise on energy policy, Europe and the Middle East, all shine through, as does his long (and positive) view of American exceptionalism. He recognizes China's challenge but notes that Beijing faces looming problems of its own and still falls well short of being America’s peer competitor. The real bulwarks against decline, he argues, are America's vast moral and material resources and its historic resilience. In this well-researched book, Lieber offers a bracing challenge to the declinist literature and its policy prescriptions.” — Charles Lipson, Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

    “Robert Lieber's clear, concise, and provocative analysis will become the starting point for the debate about the most important global issue of the next ten years: the future of American power in the world.” — Michael Mandelbaum, Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; co-author of That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

    "Deserves a place at the top of the must-read list ... [a] shining contribution to our understanding of America in the world." — PJ Media

    "Those readers who prefer wisdom and good sense in their historical analysis...will get more out of reading Lieber." — The Weekly Standard

    "Lieber provides a valuable dissenting voice to the growing literature on the decline of US power. Summing up: Highly recommended. General readers, undergraduate students and professionals" - J.R. Clardie, Cameron University, CHOICE magazine

    "A concise and provocative book, Power and Willpower shows that America still remains, by many measures, the world’s leading power" -Zachary Fredman, Boston University, H-Net Reviews

    "This book charts new territory for other researchers to explore. It will undoubtedly stimulate a new set of inquiries and debates about the reasons why groups adopt nonviolence." -Sharon Erickson Nepstad, University of New Mexico, Perspectives on Politics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521281270
    • length: 192 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.29kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus. 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The American future: problems of primacy, policy, and purpose
    2. Domestic and global interactions: economics, energy, and American power
    3. American attitudes and institutions
    4. Threats to persistent primacy and the rise of others
    5. Stretch or 'imperial overstretch'
    6. Power and willpower in the American future.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Religion, Law and American Politics
    • The Debate over U.S. Decline
    • The US in the 21st Century World
    • seminar in international studies
  • Author

    Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University, Washington DC
    Robert J. Lieber is Professor of Government and International Affairs at Georgetown University, where he previously served as Chair of the Government Department and Interim Chair of Psychology. He is an authority on American foreign policy and US relations with the Middle East and Europe. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin and his PhD at Harvard, and he has held fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has also taught at Harvard, Oxford and the University of California, Davis, and has been Visiting Fellow at the Atlantic Institute in Paris, the Brookings Institution in Washington and Fudan University in Shanghai. Professor Lieber is the author of The American Era: Power and Strategy for the 21st Century and is also the author or editor of fourteen other books on international relations, US foreign policy and energy security. He has been an advisor in several presidential campaigns. His articles and op-eds have appeared in leading scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers. His media appearances have included The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS TV, ABC's Good Morning America, NBC and CBS network news, The O'Reilly Factor, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera and other radio and TV programs in Europe, the Arab world and Israel.

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