This book shows that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East isn’t truly about defeating terrorism and liberating the people of those nations. It really reflects the principle that in order to best serve America’s interests, it is considered vital to assert control over the imperial surroundings of the country. This mirrors the capitalist mindset that America is known for, which drives the country to eliminate anything or anyone that gets in the way of what it wishes to acquire, especially economic interests like oil and cheap consumer goods. The urge to expand, not really to liberate, goes hand in hand with the belief that the U.S. military can achieve this for America under practically any circumstance, which is why America is tied up in the Middle East.
As Bacevich writes, America’s idea of an “empire” abroad, is very closely related to its domestic policy. He argues that foreign policy has become an attempt to try to come to terms with the problems facing the American way of life at home. America’s main value that the country revolves around has always been freedom, yet in order to pursue this freedom the U.S. has “accrued obligations and piled up debts that [it] is increasingly hard-pressed to meet” (Bacevich). The freedom that Americans enjoy has become more focused on consumption and because of this, its appetite for more has outgrown its production capacity. This has required Americans to look for solutions beyond the borders, expecting the rest of the world to accommodate for this demand instead of admitting that the U.S. is responsible for creating these issues. The biggest problem with this is that the U.S. doesn’t actually have the resources or power to fight in these global wars with no exits.
According to the reasoning that Bacevich provides for the U.S. having these “forever wars,” there is a way out, but I’m honestly not sure it’s a path that the U.S. will ever take. I think that the way out requires America first to recognize that the relationship between expansion, abundance, and freedom that Bacevich talks about is actually a negative one. Expansion actually wastes a lot of abundance the country had and puts freedom at risk. Basically what I think this means is that if the U.S. wants to expand its empire, it will have to sacrifice a lot of the things that it has enjoyed and people will have to live below their means, which is pretty much the opposite of the American dream. The military cannot support these self-interests any longer if it is not being supported because people are just pretending like these wars aren’t happening. People don’t like having to make hard choices and sacrifices when they are used to being able to have it all. Yet that’s what would be needed to maintain a balance in the nation between consuming and earning without having to seek conflict abroad. That is why I’m not sure that the solution would truly work.
One thought on “The U.S. only wants everything (and then some)”
I like your comment that if America wanted to get out of forever wars that can, but it’s just not the way America works or wants to work. If anyone lives in an opposing way than America lives, America sees it as an automatic threat. America could easily worry more about itself instead of how other countries are living.