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The Jeffersonian dirge -- lamenting the erosion of the limited government bequeathed by the founders and, usually, focusing on the growth of presidential power -- is one of the great standard themes in American political literature. Wills offers a well-honed example of this classic genre.
Since World War II, America has styled itself the "leader of the free world." But to get its way, the United States has ignored the American public and used covert action, sabotage, and threats against hapless foreign countries. This is not true leadership. To lead in the 21st century, the United States will have to learn to acknowledge the world outside its borders and listen to others' opinions, act in partnership with other nations, and get used to persuading allies rather than browbeating them. Given its penchant for secrecy and long history of avoiding "entangling alliances," America does not seem up to the challenge.