It’s easy and simple to say that the actions of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are the reasons that the US is mixed up in foreign affairs in this “seemingly never-ending conflict”, and although this may be true, Vietnam veteran, US army colonel during the first gulf war, and historian Andrew Bacevich believes otherwise. In The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, a book written by Andrew Bacevich, Bacevich argues that the constant goal of America is to be the sole superpower.
To be the sole superpower of the world, America believes that every country should be following in its footsteps and become a democratic country. In the later 20th century, America felt like they were a superpower that couldn’t be messed with. After a century of wins during World War 1, World War 2, and the fall of the Soviet Union, America thought they had nothing to fear, they had no reason to be protecting themselves on the homefront since their neighboring countries had no power to attack, and not foreign countries would want to attempt to attack America, or so they thought.
With its back turned America was blindsided with the September 11th attacks in 2001. This opened America’s eyes to the need for security in the homeland, but the government didn’t stop at just revamping the security within America, Defense Donald Rumsfeld summarized the American choice as “We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter.” The government wanted to create the first Arab Democracy. America didn’t insert itself into affairs in the middle east because of the actions completed by Hussein or Bin Laden, America was inserted because its superpower role in the world was challenged.
Americans experienced freedom every day, when they woke up they got to decide what they would do for the day, where they would go, what they would eat, and who they would see. As viewed from an American point of view before the turn of the 21st century, an empire is a complete opposite of what freedom is to them, but after events in American history that shaped the views of many individuals, an empire is now seen as a prerequisite of freedom. Freedom comes from those who have worked for in while in an empire-like system.
I believe that as long as America has the mentality that all countries must fear them and that they have to be the only superpower in the world, then there is no way out of forever wars. America will constantly try to degrade any country that may pose a threat to becoming a power of the world. The only way for America to get out of the forever wars is for all countries to bend for America or for America to not worry about what other countries are doing.
One thought on “Forever Wars”
This was a good summarization of Bacevich’s book section we read. It seems that the 9/11 attacks were a devastating, humbling moment and reality check for the US. Like you said, they had their back turned and didn’t believe America would or could be attacked in such a manner. I think an event such as this could have led to two paths: stepping back from foreign conflict or go straight into it. And we know which path the US took. I wonder how things would have played out if they had stepped back. Would we have continued to stay out of it, or is our involvement inevitable?