Andrew J. Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism ( New York: Metropolitan Books, ), pp., $ Andrew Bacevich’s latest . “Andrew Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who’s in power, which may be why those of both the left and right listen to him.”—Bill Moyers An immediat. With The Limits of Power, Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University and retired U.S. Army colonel, continues his.
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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 ExceptionalismBacevich 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.
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The Limits of Power: This is viewer supported news. Related Topics Guests Ppower. He is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and writes for a wide spectrum of publications including The NationForeign Affairsthe Los Angeles Timesand The American Conservative. His latest book is called The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. Transcript Limitx is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. Our next guest is Andrew Bacevich. He spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army.
He also badevich his son in Iraq. Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time. Kennedy and John F.
Bill Moyers Journal . THE LIMITS OF POWER | PBS
Kerry, telephoned to express limist condolences. Kerry was present for the funeral Mass. My family and I greatly appreciated such gestures. But when I suggested to each of them the necessity of ending the war, I got the brushoff.
We know the answer: Bush and Karl Rove — namely, wealthy individuals and institutions. He joins me here in the firehouse studio.
Welcome to Democracy Now! Thank you very much for having me. This is not theoretical for you. But the content, the critique, is unrelated to that tragedy.
The content of the book very much reflects my dismay at the direction of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Nobody was paying attention to the possibility of actually having to defend the United States of America. It was prepared — it specialized in power projection. Well, been fighting a war in — where?
And a second one in Iraq. Now, I think you can make the case for Afghanistan, at least in terms of you can make a case for the necessity of holding the Taliban accountable for having given sanctuary to al-Qaeda. And I think, in that regard, if we look at Afghanistan today, we have to see a country that historically, at least as I understand Afghan history, has never really functioned as an integrated and coherent nation state. You might call them warlords, you can call them local bosses, but authority has been widely distributed.
Were we able to actually do that, I think it liimts be a wonderful thing. So how is this narrowness taking place? I think there are differences between the two, but I think we should see the differences as differences in operational priorities.
Elect me and will shift our military effort to Li,its. Both of them — McCain explicitly, I think Obama implicitly — endorse the notion that a global war on terror really provides the right frame for thinking about US national security policy going forward. A real debate would be one in limite we would have one candidate, and certainly it would be McCain, arguing for the global war on terror and an opponent who was questioning whether the global war on terror makes sense.
Talk about this, the global war on terror. Well, we need to ask ourselves whether that really makes sense? What are the costs entailed by waging war for a generation? Where does the money come from?
The Limits of Power
And in a very human sense, who actually pays the cost? I mean, who serves? Whose social needs are getting powrr, and whose are not getting met, as a consequence of having open-ended global war be this national priority? It seems to me that were we to accurately gauge the actually existing threat — and there is a threat. There are people out there who want to kill us.
And I want to talk about those ways after break. And his latest book is The Limits of Power: Could you talk about the cost of war and how the militarists learned from your war, from Vietnam, how we are insulated from the true cost?
This is the way I would tell the story. President Nixon ends the draft and creates the so-called all-volunteer force, which really is a professional army. What Nixon is trying to do is to basically cut the antiwar movement off at the knees, and his calculation was that by ending the draft, kids would get out of the streets and go back to class.
And to some degree, he actually was right. By the time we get into the s, those JCS concerns have been proven incorrect, and we do end up with, I think, a magnificent professional army.
In terms of what you want an army to be like and to do, they are competent, they are disciplined, they know their business.
And the post-Cold War period, beginning with the elder Bush, sees this pattern of interventionism — you know, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, on and on and on — mostly small conflicts, mostly brief conflicts, conflicts in which we, the people, sit on the sidelines and mostly applaud, and the all-volunteer force seems like the most successful federal program of the recent decades.
Until you get to Iraq, because Iraq turns out to be not a short war, not a clean war, protracted, ugly, rightfully, I think, controversial and unpopular. He decides he knows how it wants to be used. Who benefits, Andrew Bacevich? I think who really benefits or what benefits is the political status quo.
The national security state, the apparatus of the national security state benefits. The tacit bargain between our political leaders and the American people, which basically assumes that our culture of consumption, our refusal to save, our addiction to oil, as President Bush himself described it, that all of these things can be sustained indefinitely, if we can simply employ our military power in ways to shape the world to our liking.
Now, of course, what we found over the past five, six years is, our military power is really not nearly as great as many people imagined it to be back in the s, and war has not become an effective instrument of politics, as many people imagined back in the s. You talk about massive amounts of money that go into the military, and yet it can be stopped by an IED. One of the great ironies, I think, of the Iraq war is that our adversary, who in a technological sense, we would say, has been fairly primitive, our adversary has actually acted much more quickly than we have.
In the competition between the improvised explosive devices as a major weapons system that they have used and our efforts to defeat that system, they have repeatedly acted more quickly than we have. The first meeting of Barack Obama and McCain was with an evangelical reverend, Rick Warren, in California, and they talked about evil and good, and they talked. Of course there is evil in the world and there is good in the world, but guess what? Some of the evil is right here.
Happy New Year!
I mean, to view international politics through this poewr of good and evil leads you to vastly oversimplify and I think also leads you to make reckless decisions. Where do you see all this heading? Well, I think we have. Do you see the end of American empire? And I think the key question is, will the American empire end catastrophically because of our blind insistence that we will not change?
Or will we be able to disengage ourselves from and dismantle the American empire in a sensible, reasonable way that will do the least damage to poower world and the least damage to ourselves? Andrew Bacevich, I want to thank you very much for being with us.
His book is The Limits of Power: