For decades, scholars of international relations have called attention to the limits of American power. For example, in 1976 Cornel University Press published America as an Ordinary Country: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Future , edited by Richard Rosecrance. As the title indicates, Rosecrance's book analyzed the impact of the economic, military, and foreign policy setbacks of the 1970s on U.S. power. Suddenly the U.S. seemed less the powerful, "indispensible" leader and more the vulnerable, "ordinary" country unable to control external forces lashing the society's economy and foreign policy. These insights led many scholars to call for a reassessment of basic "common sense" assumptions about U.S. economic, military and political power.

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