Blogpost #11

  The guiding force of US policy in the Middle East at least according to the article is not counterterrorism but is instead caused by emerging contradictions in the “American Way of Life” that has given way to the perpetual state of war in the Middle East (Bacevich, 2005). To be specific, according to the reading, “Americans have given themselves over to those temptations. Hubris and sanctimony have become the paramount expressions of American statecraft. After 9/11, they combined to produce the Bush administration’s war of no exits and no deadlines.” (Bacevich, 2005). To put it simply, Bacevich argues that the United States has developed such an intense belief in its own righteousness in every aspect of life– moral, social, political, etc, that it is used as justification for perpetual military action. Bacevich explicitly argues this in the reading when referring to the work of Reinhold Niebuhrean he says, “As prophet, he warned that what we called “our dreams of managing history”– born of a peculiar combination of arrogance and narcissism–posed a potentially mortal threat to the United States.” (Bacevich, 2005). Likewise, Bacevich goes on to talk about how Americans have gone on to see American beliefs and values as universal to all peoples around the world and that it is the divine duty of the United States to propagate these beliefs (Bacevich, 2005). 

  Likewise, according to Bacevich, “freedom” at home and “empire: abroad are connected in the sense that defending freedom at home was put on the back burner compared to the federal government’s concern with preserving what he calls the “Pax Americana,” that is the state of constantly maintaining US influence over parts of the world in a sort of pseudo-empire that is presented as globalism. To be specific, Bacevich says, “The collapse of the Soviet Union appeared to offer an opportunity to expand and perpetuate that empire, creating something akin to a global Pax Americana.” (Bacevich, 2005). Likewise, he later goes on to say that with regards to the connection between “empire” abroad and “freedom” at home that, “A political elite preoccupied with the governance of empire paid little attention to protecting the United States itself. In practical terms, prior to 9/11 the mission of homeland defense was unassigned.” (Bacevich, 2005). To put it simply, there existed an inverse relationship between maintaining freedom at home and maintaining the empire abroad–as one benefits the other suffers. At the same time Bacevich also argues that “freedom” at home and “empire” abroad are also connected in the sense that for Americans to have “freedom” there is a belief that the US must control it’s interest abroad through force (an empire), yet at the same time it’s excessive consumption (it’s perceived freedom/right) depletes the ability to wield that power in the United States. As a result, Bacevich argues that a contradiction exists between maintaining “freedom” at home and maintaining the “empire” abroad (Bacevich, 2005).

  Bacevich argues it is indeed possible to end these forever wars. He actually says that ironically, the War in Iraq may be the reality check that the United States needs in order to get itself out of forever wars. To be specific, Bacevich explains that the war in Iraq has shown that America needs to put its internal affairs in order before going on some far-flung crusade. At the same time he argues that the failure in Iraq has shown the danger of relying on military power to ensure American interests abroad (Bacevich, 2005).What I think is missing is a description of how one should practically withdraw from these countries–I feel as though while it is great to develop a general political philosophy that prohibits getting stuck in forever wars, how does one actually withdraw from already existing conflicts in the most efficient way possible? I feel as though Bacevich does not offer any practical solutions.


  • Bacevich, Andrew. The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, 2005. 

One thought on “Blogpost #11

  1. I like that you mentioned how the U.S. ignored protecting the country itself and yet invested so much military power into influencing and expanding its “empire” abroad. It’s weird now to think about how before 9/11, the United States placed so little importance on actually defending itself considering how much money and emphasis was given to the military. I also agree that Bacevich’s description of the situation was very critical, and yet offered no real solution of how to get out of the forever war once it has already been waged. I think that honestly there probably is no “right” way, but I do feel like it would have been interesting to hear how he would apply his philosophy in this situation to offer a possible answer.


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