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Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era

Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era
    Book Description:

    This book examines the foreign policy decisions of the presidents who presided over the most critical phases of America's rise to world primacy in the twentieth century, and assesses the effectiveness and ethics of their choices. Joseph Nye, who was ranked as one ofForeign Policymagazine's 100 Top Global Thinkers, reveals how some presidents tried with varying success to forge a new international order while others sought to manage America's existing position. Taking readers from Theodore Roosevelt's bid to insert America into the global balance of power to George H. W. Bush's Gulf War in the early 1990s, Nye compares how Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson responded to America's growing power and failed in their attempts to create a new order. He looks at Franklin D. Roosevelt's efforts to escape isolationism before World War II, and at Harry Truman's successful transformation of Roosevelt's grand strategy into a permanent overseas presence of American troops at the dawn of the Cold War. He describes Dwight Eisenhower's crucial role in consolidating containment, and compares the roles of Ronald Reagan and Bush in ending the Cold War and establishing the unipolar world in which American power reached its zenith.

    The book shows how transformational presidents like Wilson and Reagan changed how America sees the world, but argues that transactional presidents like Eisenhower and the elder Bush were sometimes more effective and ethical. It also draws important lessons for today's uncertain world, in which presidential decision making is more critical than ever.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4640-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Joseph Nye
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Role of Leadership
    (pp. 1-20)

    At the end of the twentieth century, the United States was the world’s sole superpower. References to American empire or hegemony exaggerate the extent to which America could control the rest of the world, and I prefer the term “primacy” to describe the way in which, by the end of the century, the United States became the only country with global military, economic, and cultural reach. Contrary to theory and modern history, American power went unbalanced. As one expert observed, “It is highly unusual for a country with only 5 percent of the world’s population to be able to organize...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Creation of the American Era from Theodore Roosevelt to George H. W. Bush
    (pp. 21-74)

    Leadership is a process of interaction among leaders, followers, and the context in which they act. As we have seen, the context of America’s role in the world began to change in the late nineteenth century. The American economy surpassed Britain’s in manufacturing in 1885, though the United States was perceived at home and abroad as a weak player in global politics with an army of only twenty-five thousand and a navy smaller than that of Chile. While President Grover Cleveland was prepared to face down Britain over a border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela in 1895, his action was...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Ethics and Good Foreign Policy Leadership
    (pp. 75-135)

    Leadership experts often argue that transformational leadership has a moral dimension. Unfortunately, they sometimes muddle their analysis by building their values into their definitions.¹ They are correct to draw our attention to values, but their claims for the moral superiority of transformational or inspirational leadership are not justified.

    What is good foreign policy leadership? “Good” has two dimensions: effective and ethical. A good sword cuts well, but it can be used for aggression or defense. A good thief steals a lot of money, but we still condemn the means by which he or she gets it. Democratic electorates want their...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Twenty-First-Century Leadership
    (pp. 136-160)

    The twentieth century ended with an extraordinary imbalance in world power resources. The United States was the only country able to project military force globally; it produced more than a quarter of the world product; and it had the world’s leading soft power resources in its universities and entertainment industry. Because the United States represented nearly half of world military expenditure and was formally allied to Europe and Japan, the remaining countries could not create a classical balance to American power. Moreover, the change from the Soviet Union to Russia reduced the nuclear threat that had helped to deter some...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 161-174)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 175-184)