Andrew Bacevich’s work

One of the major analysts of US geopolitics is Andrew Bacevich.  His background in both active military service and academia gives him an excellent perspective from which to explain where we are — and where our present course is leading.  All of these are worth reading, as are (on a larger scale) his books.

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  1. Biographical information
  2. His Books
  3. Articles about Bacevich
  4. Excerpts from his books
  5. Online articles by Bacevich
  6. Interviews with Bacevich

(1) Biographical information about Andrew Bacevich

Andrew J. Bacevich (Colonel, US Army, retired) is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. A TomDispatch regular, he is the author most recently of Washington Rules: The American Path to Permanent War and the editor of the new book The Short American Century: A Postmortem, just out from Harvard University Press.

Bacevich graduated from  West Point in 1969 and served with the Army in Vietnam from 1970 – 1971 and in the Gulf War.  He retired in 1992. He holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins prior to joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998. For links to some of his works see:

(2) His books

See his books, which provide a deeper understanding of our world.

(3)  Some articles about Bacevich

Andrew Bacevich’s Visit to IU“, Jeremy Young, posted at Progressive Historians, 28 March 2008 — Excerpt:

Bacevich spoke at IU on Wednesdayon the topic of “U.S. Foreign Policy After Iraq.” Thursday morning, I had the privilege of having breakfast with Bacevich and a group of my fellow grad students.

Bacevich has written several books on U.S. military policy, but he’s best known for his numerous articles and op-eds advocating for conservative militarism while denouncing the Iraq war as wrongheaded and pointless. Most recently, Bacevich endorsed Obama, and in the American Conservative, no less, which took a lot of guts. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask him about that.

Bacevich on U.S. Grand Strategy“, by Don Vandergriff (Major, US Army, retired), 17 July 2008 — Opening

I know Andrew Bacevich. He is a great soldier, gave me an extensive interview for my book, Path to Victorywhen I was writing it. I also knew a couple of his former troop commanders (he commanded the 11th ACR during and after the First Gulf War). He also lost his son in Iraq two years ago.

He just testified before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations yesterday. The themes in his remarks are ones he addresses more thoroughly in his forthcoming book, they are the people of the Middle East or the entire Islamic world. To persist in seeing U. S. grand strategy as a project aimed at changing the way they live will be to court bankruptcy and exhaustion. In fact, the choice facing the United States is this one: we can ignore the imperative to change the way we live, in which case we will drown in an ocean of red ink; or we can choose to mend our ways, curbing our profligate inclinations, regaining our freedom of action, and thereby preserving all that we value most.

In the end, how we manage, or mismanage, our affairs here at home will prove to be far more decisive than our efforts to manage events beyond our shores, whether in the Persian Gulf or East Asia or elsewhere. The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, which I heartily recommend.

(4)  Excerpts from his books

Excerpts from The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War, posted at TomDispatch:

TomDispatch articles based on his new book,  The Limits of Power, The End of American Exceptionalism.

  1. Illusions of Victory“, 11 August 2008 — “How the United States Did Not Reinvent War… But Thought It Did”
  2. Is Perpetual War Our Future?“, 14 August 2008 — “Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Bush Era”
  3. Expanding War, Contracting Meaning“, 30 October 2008 — “The Next President and the Global War on Terror”

(5)  Online writings and speeches of Andrew Bacevich

  1. Seduced by War“, Bostonia, Winter 2004-05 — “Andrew Bacevich argues that Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, have bought into the new American militarism as a solution to our international problems. And that, he says, is bad for our democracy.”
  2. Tug of War“, The Nation, 16 June 2005 — “The reality of America’s role in the cold war was far more complex and ambiguous than historical accounts suggest.”
  3. Robert Kaplan: Empire Without Apologies“, The Nation, 8 September 2005 — “In his new book, Robert Kaplan proposes that the antidote to anarchy is empire, policed by soldiers holding an assault rifle in one hand and candy bars in the other.”
  4. What Isolationism?“, The Huffington Post, 3 February 2006 — Are there advocates of isolationism, as so many neo-cons claim?
  5. The Courage of Captain Fishback“, The Huffington Post, 7 October 2005 — “No one doubts the bravery of the American soldier when facing enemy fire. But do senior leaders possess moral courage equal to the physical courage of those they send into battle?”
  6. The American Political Tradition“, The Nation, 10 July 2006 — “American foreign policy is shaped by a myth of national righteousness. In two new books, Peter Beinart abuses history to suggest liberals embrace this myth, while Stephen Kinzer uses America’s history of involvement in foreign coups to reveal why we cannot.”
  7. Iraq panel’s real agenda: damage control“, Christian Science Monitor, 28 November 2006 – “The Iraq Study Group’s makeup gives away its true purpose.”
  8. Rescinding the Bush Doctrine“, Boston Globe, 1 March 2007
  9. Downsizing – What the ‘Surge’ really means“, Commonweal, 6 April 2007
  10. I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty“, Washington Post, 27 May 2007
  11. The Semiwarriors“, The Nation, 5 April 2007 — “By creating an atmosphere of perpetual crisis, Presidents have expanded their powers and hidden their actions from the public eye.”
  12. Sycophant Savior“, American Conservative, 8 October 2007 — “General Petraeus wins a battle in Washington-if not in Baghdad.”
  13. No Exit from Iraq?“, Commonweal, 12 October 2007
  14. The Right Choice?“, American Conservative, 24 March 2008 — “The conservative case for Barack Obama”
  15. The Great Divide – The crisis of US Military Policy“, Commonweal, 28 March 2008
  16. Transcript of testimony by Andrew J. Bacevich before the House Armed Services Committee, 15 July 2008
  17. Illusions of Victory“, The Nation, 12 August 2008 — “The United States did not reinvent war after 9/11. It only thought it did.”
  18. American Triumphalism – A postmortem“, Commonweal, 30 January 2009
  19. Obama’s Sins of Omission“, Counterpunch, 27 April 2009 — What is the purpose of the US military?
  20. Farewell, the American Century“, TomDispatch, 28 April 2009 — “Rewriting the Past by Adding In What’s Been Left Out”
  21. White House Hones its Strategy in Two-Front War“, PBS Online Newshour, 6 May 2009 — Discussion with Bacevich and John Nagl.
  22. Obama’s strategic blind spot“, op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2009 — “How many troops here; what anti-terror tactics to employ there — those questions miss the point.”
  23. Best Intentions: An Appreciation of Graham Greene“, World Affairs, Summer 2009
  24. The War We Can’t Win – Afghanistan & the Limits of American Power“, Commonweal, 7 August 2009
  25. The War We Can’t Win – Afghanistan & the Limits of American Power“, Commonweal, 14 August 2009
  26. These colors run red“, American Conservative, 1 October 2009 — “The U.S. follows the Soviet Union into Afghanistan.”
  27.  “Afghanistan – the proxy war“, op-ed in the Boston Globe, 11 October 2009
  28. No exit“, American Conservative, 1 February 2010 — “America has an impressive record of starting wars but a dismal one of ending them well.”
  29. ‘Government in a box’ in Marja“, op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, 17 February 2010 — “No doubt the U.S. military will succeed in clearing the Afghan town of the Taliban. But can we bring lasting change?”
  30.  “More Than Peanut Butter“, World Affairs, 19 February 2010 — “Forget history, and it becomes so much easier to persuade yourself that the presence of U.S. forces in the Caribbean or on the other side of the world represents not a latter-day version of imperialism, but the benign and generous purposes of the United States itself, helping to bring light to a dark and troubled world.”

(6)  Interviews with Bacevich

  1. The Delusions of Global Hegemony“, TomDispatch, 23 May 2006 — Part 1 of 2.
  2. Drifting Down the Path to Perdition“, TomDispatch, 25 May 2006 — Part 2 of 2.
  3. Transcript of Interview on Bill Moyer’s Journal, 15 August 2008
  4. White House Hones its Strategy in Two-Front War“, PBS Online Newshour, 6 May 2009 — Discussion by Bacevich and John Nagl.

6 thoughts on “Andrew Bacevich’s work”

  1. ” He also lost his son in Iraq two years ago “. Some ancient dude once said that it is only those who truly understand the dangers of war who understand HOW to wage it.

  2. “In the end, how we manage, or mismanage, our affairs here at home will prove to be far more decisive than our efforts to manage events beyond our shores, whether in the Persian Gulf or East Asia or elsewhere.” (Major Don Vandergriff, reviewing “Limits of Power . .”)

    A tremendously rich observation, that could serve as the core of a whole curriculum. The current bi-partisan Washington consensus is almost the reverse of it — we can manage affairs at home by controlling events beyond our shores. The driving force behind this approach are the transnational businesses — agriculture, manufacturing, extractive industries and finance — which have been forced beyond the domestic market to global ones. The popular ideology that rationalizes this grand strategy is the familiar “what’s good for GM (or ADM or IBM, etc.) is good for America”, or its current variants, like Thomas Friedman’s views on globalization. Our political class probably views this strategymore simplistically as one of maintaining control of the resources needed to support our current standard of living.

    Meanwhile, our actual standard of living, the well-being of all our citizens, the failure of the economy to provide meaningful employment for the vast majority, the weakness of our educational systems, the wastefulness of our consumption habits, the corruption of our political institutions, etc., is increasingly questionable. I take it this what Vandergriff is talking about.

  3. I imagine that the congress-critters Bacevich testified to were highly amused by his naivete. He doesn’t understand that “we” don’t manage anything. In fact, we are managed by those profiting from war, including Congress. They arrange that our money is transfered into their pockets, and that our children are transfered into their own graves. Smedley Butler: “War is a racket, the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”

  4. I must agree with his overall conclusion about America’s problems.
    But the solution is not as simple as finding a good President. The governing parties and the business leaders now have interests that are not consistant with the citizens. The citizens have become self centered and short sighted and whatever it takes to keep us that way will be done. Change will come but we have to choose to have a say in it. The first step would be to scale the federal government back and let the states perform their traditional roles.
    This means more responsability for the individual citizens who have more direct control over their states and that is the reason it won’t happen. Sorry to drone on but all this but it is linked to a general social break down we are experiencing.

    At least it’s Friday Eve!

  5. Mary Jane Rheaume

    Have you, Mr. Bacevich, been approached by either of the presidential candidates to be a part of their team when elected. You would certainly carry a high level of integrity in the White House. I see you as Secretary of Defense, and higher still as President. Have you considered this position.

    Mary Jane Rheaume

  6. Pingback: Our wars: using the military to do Social Work with Guns | The Elephant

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