In the months of July and September 1940 the French historian and future resistance fighter Marc Bloch, who fought in World War I and World War II, wrote a short book called L’Étrange Défaite or Strange Defeat.
Nine years after Baghdad erupted in “shock and awe,” we’re once again hearing in America the drumbeat for war in the Middle East. Now, the bull’s-eye is on Iran. But what we need more than a simple change of target is a complete change in perspective, says Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran-turned-scholar who’s become one of the most perceptive observers of America’s changing role in the world.
This week, on an all-new Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers and Bacevich explore the futility of “endless” wars, and provide a reality check on the rhetoric of American exceptionalism.
Andrew Bacevich on Afghanistan War: “The President Lacks the Guts to Get Out”
Retired US Army colonel and historian Andrew Bacevich joins us for his first interview about his new book, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. “The question demands to be asked: Who is more deserving of contempt?” Bacevich asks. “The commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause, however misguided, in which he sincerely believes? Or the commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause in which he manifestly does not believe and yet refuses to forsake?” [includes rush transcript]
Vietnam Vet, Scholar Andrew Bacevich on Obama War Plan: “The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War”
Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel and a Vietnam war veteran who spent twenty-three years in the US Army, responds to Presidnt Obama’s plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University and the author of “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.” [includes rush transcript]
A week ago, I had a long conversation with a four-star U.S. military officer who, until his recent retirement, had played a central role in directing the global war on terror. I asked him: what exactly is the strategy that guides the Bush administration’s conduct of this war? His dismaying, if not exactly surprising, answer: there is none.
President Bush will bequeath to his successor the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone. To defense contractors, lobbyists, think-tankers, ambitious military officers, the hosts of Sunday morning talk shows, and the Douglas Feith-like creatures who maneuver to become players in the ultimate power game, the Global War on Terror is a boon, an enterprise redolent with opportunity and promising to extend decades into the future.
Like I mentioned before, Conservatives and Liberals must come together to take back our country. This is a must-see video. ~ Lo
Bill Moyers Journal
August 15, 2008
Is an imperial presidency destroying what America stands for? Bill Moyers sits down with history and international relations expert and former US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich who identifies three major problems facing our democracy: the crises of economy, government and militarism, and calls for a redefinition of the American way of life:
Bacevich’s Warning About America’s Deteriorating Stature in the World
The Imperial Presidency
By MICHAEL WINSHIP
August 15, 2008
In a letter written in 1648, the Swedish statesman, Axel Oxenstierna, chancellor to both King Gustavus Adolphus and Queen Christina, counseled, “Know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.”
The fighting between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia is an unnerving reminder of that, and of how quickly the balance of global power can be tilted from unexpected directions with barely a warning.
Some hawks and neo-cons called for NATO intervention or even suggested we send in Stinger missiles or the 82nd Airborne as a peacekeeping force. President Bush warned, “Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century.”
Perhaps, but the reality of the early 21st century is that, in the short run, at least, the president’s words ring hollow. In spite of past promises of support to Georgia, Russia is key to our efforts in the Middle East and our European allies are dependent on Russia for energy. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have both our military strength and our international credibility stretched perilously thin at a time when oil-rich Russia is reemerging as a superpower. We’ve boxed ourselves in.
The Limits of Power: Andrew Bacevich on the End of American Exceptionalism
Andrew Bacevich is a conservative historian who spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army. He also lost his son in Iraq last year. In a new book titled The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Bacevich argues that although many in this country are paying a heavy price for US domestic and foreign policy decisions, millions of Americans simply continue to shop, spend and satisfy their appetite for cheap oil, credit and the promise of freedom at home. Bacevich writes, “As the American appetite for freedom has grown, so too has our penchant for empire.”
To appreciate the full extent of the military crisis into which the United States has been plunged requires understanding what the Iraq War and, to a lesser extent, the Afghan War have to teach. These two conflicts, along with the attacks of September 11, 2001, will form the centerpiece of George W. Bush’s legacy. Their lessons ought to constitute the basis of a new, more realistic military policy.
In some respects, the effort to divine those lessons is well under way, spurred by critics of President Bush’s policies on the left and the right as well as by reform-minded members of the officer corps. Broadly speaking, this effort has thus far yielded three distinct conclusions. Whether taken singly or together, they invert the post-Cold War military illusions that provided the foundation for the president’s Global War on Terror. In exchange for these received illusions, they propound new ones, which are equally misguided. Thus far, that is, the lessons drawn from America’s post-9/11 military experience are the wrong ones.
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