Friday, December 22, 2006

Bacevich cuts to the bone

David Seaton's News Links
Professor Andrew Bacevich of Boston University, formerly Colonel Andrew Bacevich, US Army, is one of the most incisive political thinkers in America's intellectual panorama. The world of American think tanks has turned US geopolitical discourse into a massive, over-funded, Swiftian Academy of Lagado, where sunbeams are extracted from cucumbers and a quick journey to the heart of any matter would put a lot of scholars out of work. Bacevich, however, cuts to the bone. His book, "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," is an absolute 'must read': an invaluable starting point for any serious discussion about the terrible situation that the US has created for itself. Obviously, without a keystone or linchpin, without finding the axis around which the problem revolves, we will never find our way out of the labyrinth. This article from The International Herald Tribune, which is quoted below, will give you some idea of Professor Bacevich's unerring instinct for constantly locating the center of gravity of these questions. DS
Bush's illusions - International Herald Tribune

The world's only superpower no longer acts; instead, it reacts, usually to whatever happens to be the latest bad news out of Baghdad. As events in Iraq slip out of his control, President George W. Bush's strategy for waging his "global war on terror" lies in ruins. He is navigating without a compass. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Recall that for the architects of Operation Iraqi Freedom, taking down Saddam Hussein never qualified as more than a preliminary objective. Baghdad was not Berlin. It was Normandy, the jumping-off point for a much larger enterprise.(...) Skeptics saw the Freedom Agenda as little more than eyewash. The real object of the exercise, they insisted, was to assert U.S. control over the oil-rich Gulf. The aim of the global war on terror was not to share the blessings of liberty but to expand the perimeter of the American empire. Whether the name of the game was liberation or dominion, Iraq was a crucial test case. Iraq's transformation into the first Arab democracy — or (depending on your point of view) its conversion into a compliant protectorate — promised to validate the Bush administration's concept of global war. Victory in Iraq would also affirm key assumptions underlying that concept: that U.S. forces are invincible and unstoppable; that preventive war works; that the concerns of other major powers or the absence of a UN Security Council mandate need not constrain American freedom of action. In short, Iraq constituted step one. Success there would pave the way for the Bush administration to proceed along similar lines to steps two, three and four. The disappointments and frustrations resulting from that first step now leave the entire project in a shambles. If the United States cannot democratize Iraq, then to imagine that democracy will emerge from the barrel of an American gun in Iran, Syria, Egypt or Saudi Arabia is simply fanciful. If U.S. troops cannot pacify Iraq, then only the truly deluded would court a further military showdown that could oblige American forces to pacify Iraq's neighbors as well. The United States already has too much war for too few soldiers.(...) As if tacitly acknowledging that they have spent all their ammunition strategically, Bush and his lieutenants now preoccupy themselves with operational matters that ought to fall within the purview of field commanders.(...) Fighting the Battle of Baghdad does not qualify as presidential business. Devising an effective response to the threat posed by Islamic radicalism does. On that score, however, the most pressing question is this: Does open-ended global war provide the proper framework for formulating that response? Or has global war, based on various illusions about American competence and American power, led to a dead end? READ IT ALL

1 comment:

Marcia Morrison said...

I discovered Bacevich (about the same time I came across William R. Polk) when I began reading the strong anti-war sentiments at "The American Conservative". I suppose it's one more sign of these troubled times that Bacevich doesn't get nearly the attention he deserves...