America’s Inadvertent Empire

William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric

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A thought-provoking and timely analysis of American power, with unexpected conclusions about the most serious threat we face in coming decades

The United States finds itself at the center of a historically unparalleled empire, one that is wealth-generating and voluntary rather than imperialistic, say the authors of this compelling book. William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric examine America’s unprecedented power within the international arenas of politics, economics, demographics, education, science, and culture. They argue persuasively that the major threat to this unique empire is ineffective U.S. leadership, not a rising rival power center.

America cannot simply behave as an ordinary sovereign state, Odom and Dujarric contend. They describe the responsibilities that accompany staggering power advantages and explain that resorting to unilateralism makes sense only when it becomes necessary to overcome paralysis in multilateral organizations. The authors also offer insights into the importance of liberal international institutions as a source of power, why international cooperation pays, and why spreading democracy often inhibits the spread of constitutional order. If the United States uses its own power constructively, the authors conclude, the American empire will flourish for a long time.

Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (retired, U.S. Army) is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and professor (adjunct) at Yale University. Former director of the National Security Agency (1985–1988), he is also the author of The Collapse of the Soviet Military and Fixing Intelligence: For a More Secure America, both available in paperback from Yale University Press. Robert Dujarric is a Council on Foreign Relations Hitachi Fellow and a Senior Associate with the National Institute for Public Policy.

“At a time when explications of American strengths are often dismissed as ethnocentric and ‘triumphalist,’ this provocative book needs and deserves to be taken very seriously, even—or especially—by those who disagree. A valuable contribution.”—Robert Jervis, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University

"America’s Inadvertent Empire provides a comprehensive description of the extraordinary strengths which under gird our political and military security and the intellectual and economic capital which under girds our healthy systems of governance. The authors also discuss reasons why our strength and our pursuit of happiness might falter. This analysis should help American decision makers to better understand the origin and growth of the assets they are privileged to manage and the tragedies for our country that could come from bad decisions based on inadequate comprehension."—Senator Richard Lugar (Indiana), U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman 

“This book will be a significant intellectual marker in the ongoing debate about American national strategy in the post-Cold War era. Odom and Dujarric make a persuasive case that American primacy will last a long time.”—Stephen Peter Rosen, Olin Institute of Strategic Studies, Harvard University

America’s Inadvertent Empire offers what is probably the best and most comprehensive account to date of ‘the sources of American power’ in the world today. Its discussion of the American military and its global presence is authoritative and shrewd, but valuable too is its focus on aspects of American power that tend to be neglected or at least not considered sufficiently in this broader context—demography, education, science and technology, and the media and mass culture.”—Carnes Lord, Claremont Review of Books

“A superb compendium of how and why this Nation attained its position in the world, where it is, and where it and its competitors are going to be in the not too distant future. . . . [The book] is reality in print by two astute authors who have analyzed a plethora of recent, respected reference sources. It’s a book that is in easily read, unambiguous, black-and-white lay terms.”—James M. Mutter, Marine Corps Gazette

ISBN: 9780300100693
Publication Date: February 9, 2004
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
3 b/w illus.
Fixing Intelligence

For a More Secure America
Second Edition

William E. Odom

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