Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Andrew Bacevich, "Is perpetual war our future?" Asia Times online, August 16, 2008.

In this article adapted from his new book, The Limits of Power, The End of American Exceptionalism, historian and retired colonel Andrew Bacevich argues the US does not need a bigger army, it needs a more modest foreign policy.

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 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 "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-September 11, 2001, military experience are the wrong ones.

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