Review by Francis Moul
“The Short American Century: A Postmortem”
Editor: Andrew Bacevich
Publisher: Havard University Press
Most Americans would agree that the 20th Century was an American triumph, the “American Century” where we won two world wars, beat a depression and led the world economically, politically and socially. Well, as in Porgy and Bess: “It ain’t necessarily so.”
Henry Luce, publisher of “Life” magazine, defined the century’s past and promise in a pivotal essay, printed in the magazine on Feb. 17, 1941. This was a time when Great Britain was alone in resisting the Nazi Germany war machine, and Luce wrote that it was time to answer the call of history with a “complete opportunity of leadership” worldwide by aiding Britain.
A new world was coming, “one world, fundamentally indivisible,” and the United States, “the inheritors of all the great principles of Western civilization,” was uniquely positioned to determine the character of that world, Luce noted. American might become “the Good Samaritan of the entire world.”