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This book examines how presidents from Nixon to Obama have faced the challenges of global leadership in a dramatically changing world—one with more limited resources and an increasing number of threatening challengers.
The immediate post-World War II era was undeniably a period of American power and influence. Even during the Cold War, the United States was the leader of the West, exerting wide-ranging power internationally. But beginning with the Vietnam War, America began experiencing a series of setbacks and challenges to its power. The Post-Heroic Presidency: Leveraged Leadership in an Age of Limits examines how U.S. presidents have attempted to reverse or contend with this new era of limited power in which presidential leadership is hamstrung due to an increasingly globalized and interdependent world—one where power is more diffuse and the system of checks and balances bind a president in an age of hyper-partisanship.
The book examines presidents of the 20th and 21st centuries, explaining how the first U.S. president to confront this new age was Richard Nixon, who—along with Henry Kissinger—developed a sophisticated approach to deal with the recalibration of American power. It documents how other recent presidents have either tried to make peace with limited power (Jimmy Carter), reverse the decline (Ronald Reagan), ignore the implications of limits (George W. Bush), or find ways to lead that were less ambitious, more prudent, and less unilateral (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama). In the cases of Clinton and Obama, this shift to using "soft power," persuasion, and multilateralism earned them criticism that they are "weak," thereby undermining their efforts to lead—both at home and abroad.
- Examines what challenges future U.S. presidents will have to deal with in our globalized world
- Addresses the important question of what role can and should the United States play in the international arena
- Explains why the office of president—once seen as one of the great engines of American power—now exhibits decline in presidential success and appears handcuffed and ineffective in creating change
- Author Info
“All geopolitical empires eventually decline. Nevertheless, a not-as-dominant U.S. might still use a more collegial brand of leadership to guide a Western alliance badly in need of a viable strategy for remaining an effective counterweight to ‘a rising China and an intemperate Russia.’ So argue Michael Genovese and Todd Belt in this sweepingly ambitious, thoroughly sourced, and well-written new book. The change agents will be future American presidents. By operating in ‘post-heroic’ mode, they can use ‘leveraged leadership’ to accommodate new power-sharing realities in ways that most recent presidents, bent on sustaining or restoring U.S. dominance, could not. This book adds useful historical grounding and a vision of the future to the debate about the potential role of the U.S. and its presidents in a still-emerging world order."
“In this insightful analysis, Genovese and Belt explain how the last seven presidents exercised presidential power within the constraints of a globalized world. They propose a sophisticated and realistic foundation upon which future presidents must base American foreign policy in a world undergoing increasingly disruptive change. Anyone interested in the exercise of presidential power in the international arena will benefit from reading this book.”
- Look Inside