Philip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 688 pp., $35.00.
Robert Kagan, The Return of History and the End of Dreams (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 128 pp., $19.95.
Forging a World of Liberty Under Law: U.S. Security in the 21st Century (Final report of the Princeton Project on National Security, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, 2006), G. John Ikenberry and Anne-Marie Slaughter (codirectors).
WHICHEVER U.S. party forms the next administration will have to do so in circumstances where America's capacity for decisive action in the outside world has been greatly diminished, at least compared to the grandiose ambitions which the Bush administration nourished in its first three years in power. Most importantly, Iraq and Afghanistan have revealed the immense expenditure of troops and money required to fight even medium-size mass insurgencies-to the extent that America's ability to engage in any additional ground wars is in serious question.
In part, this is because the United States is suffering from the oldest of all syndromes afflicting elderly empires with spoiled elites and debellicized populations: the inability to raise enough troops, largely because of the inability to raise taxes in order to pay for them. In addition, with the partial exceptions of Britain and Canada, most U.S. allies have proved completely worthless in terms of real military or indeed economic assistance.