Critical Evaluation Essay on William Fulbright’s "The Arrogance of Power, 1966"

Leaders in a country should come up with wise decisions, particularly when the decision may have adverse effects on a large number of individuals. William Fulbright’s book offers insight on America’s decision to engage in Vietnamese War and explains how America’s choice led to some negative implications that the country still regrets up to the current times. The US, with supreme military power, was embracing imperial attitudes, and consequently, a unilateralist and war-like spirit infected the nation in manners that it would always regret.

Fulbright creates the impression that America’s sense of superiority pushed it to engage in the Vietnamese War. The author develops the impression that Congress’ failure to set limits for engagement in the fight depicted the U.S. as being arrogant in the way it uses its superiority (Fulbright 53). Even though disunity had prevailed in Vietnam and there was an urgent need for intervention, the U.S. ought to have taken another approach that could not lead to destruction. Fulbright forewarns in his book that U.S. involvement in the war could lead to long-term effects that the U.S. would live with for many years.

The effects of engagement in the war started to show in the American society after President George Bush came into power. One of the devastating effects of the engagement in the war is that hostility now exists between democratic humanism and Puritans. Democrats usually feel that it is significant to engage other parties to find solutions to some of the international issues while Puritans feel that a nation can proceed to make solitary decisions when it can do that. The US’s continuous sense of superiority hinders it from seeking the opinions of other before engaging in major international affairs, and this sometimes leads to the lack of consensus.

The other effect is that the U.S. developed a war-like spirit that motivates it to participate in some of leading wars that occurred afterward. For instance, US’ sense of superiority and arrogance compelled it to participate in wars that initially had nothing to do with the Americans. The state felt that its superior nature gives it the mandate to engage in any tussle as long as the matter has some international interest. The major thing that the U.S. fails to consider through its constant involvement in wars is that some nations might not welcome the idea and this might create increased misunderstandings between the U.S. and other countries.

The third major effect of Fulbright’s warning is that currently many nations in Europe increasingly become uneasy about America’s policy, and many prefer to keep the Americans at a distance. The major reason why the feeling exists is that some Europeans nations have the impression that the U.S. may not give them the opportunity to make decisions that will benefit their nations in the ways they desire. The U.S. soon or later might find itself in a position where it lacks a proper relationship with other nations that view it as dictatorial in nature, and which carries out activities with the motive of making self-gain. It is valuable to note that continued misunderstandings between the U.S. and other nations may have adverse effects on these states, particularly when it comes to international relation and business.

Major Lessons from the Book

Country leaders and other readers of the book acquire fundamental lessons that can help them in some ways. One of the key lessons from the book is that even though it is important to promote freedom and peace in other nations, it is essential to adopt approaches that may not lead to the destruction of property and deaths as it occurred in the Vietnamese War. According to Fulbright, it might be necessary to try other conflict resolution methods such as dialogue which are also effective in settling misunderstandings.

The author warns against embracing a unilateralist approach when handling local and international issues because the strategy denies other people the chance to give their opinions. A unilateralist approach according to Fulbright shows dominance over other inferior communities since they may lack the opportunity to engage in a critical decision-making process (Fulbright 65). The author suggests that political leaders should embark on multilateralism to allow others the opportunity to give their opinion when focusing on an issue that may have an impact on a large group of people.


The US’ involvement in the Vietnamese war created the chance for the emergence of unilateralism and war-like spirit in the society. The government felt that its superiority over other nations regarding the military prowess gave it the mandate to indulge in other countries’ affair without making proper consultations with other parties. The report creates the impression that political leaders need to settle on wise choices that would not lead to regrets in the near or far future. The best way to arrive at an effective conclusion is to make consultations with other parties and to embrace ideas that are supported and believed by the majority to be both human and right.

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