Weary Policeman: American Power in an Age of Austerity

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As another presidential election looms, the America's role in global affairs and security has emerged as one of the campaign's great battle lines. The struggle not just to define but also to preserve American power is no modern phenomenon: questions of intervention and projection have dominated the nation's politics from the days of the Founding Fathers. Then, as now, the old centres of power were shifting. Nor is economic stress an unfamiliar factor for policymakers.

But in 2012 these problems are compounded by the on-going financial crisis in Europe, which, together with the overstretch and fatigue from two wars, has sapped the strength of America's chief allies. While it may urge its NATO partners to shoulder more of the security burden, the US finds them less willing and occasionally unable to share the strain. This Adelphi examines the myriad challenges America must confront if it is to uphold and spread its values.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415644877
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/10/2012
  • Series: Adelphi Series
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Dana Allin is Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Transatlantic Affairs, ISS and Editor Survival.

Erik Jones is director of the Bologna Institute for Policy Research, Professor of European Studies at the SAIS Bologna Centre and Contributing Editor, Survival.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 9

Glossary 11

Introduction 13

Idealism 17

Realism 19

Pluralism 21

Stakes 23

Chapter 1 Power and restraint in American history 31

The conservative anxiety 42

Cycles of ambition 49

Moments of restraint 57

Chapter 2 Barack Obama and the limits of superpower 71

Afghanistan 74

America: offshore balancer? 86

Humanitarian war 96

Counter-proliferation 101

Chapter 3 Politics, polarisation and American exceptionalism 111

Tea and liberty 112

Contested exceptionalism 115

Fiscal paralysis 123

Money and morals 131

Chapter 4 The causes and consequences of austerity 137

The road to ruin 139

Austerity politics 144

Balance and imbalance 151

Power shift? 155

Chapter 5 Power, influence and leadership 165

A world without followers 169

When coordination breaks down 174

Frustration and hubris 180

Conclusion Realist Dilemmas 183

The plurality of power 190

The primacy of politics 196

Appendix: American power in decline? 199

Notes 205

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