Andrew Bacevich’s analysis
"The very structure of American politics imposes its own constraints. For all the clout that presidents have accrued since World War II, their prerogatives remain limited. A President McCain will almost certainly face a Congress controlled by a Democratic and therefore obstreperous majority. A President Obama, even if his own party runs the Senate and House, won't enjoy all that much more latitude, especially when it comes to three areas in which the dead hand of the past weighs most heavily: defense policy, energy policy and the Arab-Israeli peace process. The military-industrial complex will inhibit efforts to curb the Pentagon's penchant for waste. Detroit and Big Oil will conspire to prolong the age of gas guzzling. And the Israel lobby will oppose attempts to chart a new course in the Middle East. If the past provides any indication, advocates of the status quo will mount a tenacious defense."
From the Los Angeles Times
Forget the promises; there's only so much a president can achieve.By Andrew J. Bacevich
Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, is the author of the new book "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism."
August 24, 2008
On inauguration day, a new U.S. president is a demigod, the embodiment of aspirations as vast as they are varied. Over the course of the years that follow, the president inevitably fails to fulfill those lofty hopes. So the cycle begins anew, and Americans look to the next occupant of the Oval Office to undo his predecessor's mistakes and usher in an era of lasting peace and sustained prosperity.
This time around, expectations are, if anything, loftier than usual. The youthful and charismatic Sen. Barack Obama casts himself as the standard-bearer of those keenest to fix Washington, redeem America and save the world. "Yes, we can," Obama's anthem proclaims, inviting supporters to complete the thought by inserting their own fondest desire. Yes, we can: bring peace to the Middle East; reverse global warming; win the global war on terrorism.