Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post–Cold War World

Knopf. Jun. 2020. 464p. ISBN 9781524731885. $29.95. POL SCI
In this latest work, former secretary of defense Gates (Duty) examines the role of American power and its relation to foreign policy decisions since the collapse of the USSR. Failure to utilize the multilayered dimensions of power have left the United States as a bewildered actor on the world’s stage where Washington, DC, once had the lead role, Gates maintains. This work is not a political treatise, and remains accessible throughout as the author defines 15 components as tools that administrations have used to define power. Themes emerge from one foreign policy action to the next, most notably that limited mission scopes have yielded successes while mission creep, or the gradual expansion of a project, has led to failures. Relating to military success, Gates notes that buy-in from the affected population is necessary in order for a mission to succeed, but the buy-in should not be set up with unrealistic expectations.
VERDICT This important work dives deep into the past three decades of American foreign policy to provide a realistic picture of how key policy decisions were crafted. Highly recommended for those wanting an examination of America’s role within the global community.
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