Throughout Andrew Bacevich’s article “The Limits of Power,” Bacevich argues that 9/11 is not the cause of the never-ending conflict in the Middle East. Bacevich argues, “Seeing themselves as peaceful people, Americans remain wedded to the conviction that the conflicts in which they find themselves embroiled are not of their own making.” (page 4) Rather than blaming the never-ending conflict on ourselves, the U.S. uses 9/11 as a vehicle for responsibility. Interestingly, Bacevich determines freedom is one driving force behind the U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Freedom is a concept Americans cling to. Throughout our history, the U.S. came to view itself as an enforcer of freedom. Unfortunately, “In our pursuit of freedom, we have accrued obligation and piled up debts that we are increasingly hard-pressed to meet.” (page 6) So, the U.S. finds itself trying to uphold this ideal of being an enforcer only to entrench itself in issues further. Also argued by Bacevich is the idea of why the conflict seems never-ending. Because of how we view freedom and the needs of Americans change, there will always be conflict.
Bacevich argues the American core value of freedom is what drives the U.S. foreign policy abroad. To have freedom, we need things; things like oil and cheap goods. Freedom makes these needs seem like Americans are all deserving of these things. Bacevich states, “The resulting sense of entitlement has great implications for foreign policy.” (page 9) The foreign policy in the U.S. looks more like the building of an “empire.” The “empire” the U.S. created for itself supplies our needs for freedom. The “empire” is built through military power and war. Building the “empire” has negative effects that wrap the U.S. fuller into conflict. With the evolution of “freedom,” the “empire” will do nothing be reshape its dictation.
Although the Middle East seems like a never-ending point of contention. Bacevich argues, “Rather than insisting that the world accommodates the United States, Americans need to reassert control over their own destiny, ending their condition of dependency and abandoning their imperial delusions.” (page 13) Then, Bacevich places the responsibility to get this done on the American citizens. This might be incredibly pessimistic, but I don’t think the U.S. will ever be done with the forever wars. If there is oil and cheap labor abroad benefiting the U.S. economy, Americans will continue to allow the conflicts to continue. It would be incredible if the war did have end dates, but it’s not something I’ll expect in my lifetime.
One of the concepts I have always been dumbfounded by in our government is our defense spending. However, after reading about Bacvich’s connection between freedom and empire, spending makes much more sense. It’s fascinating the U.S. was able to use 9/11 and freedom as a guise for creating a mess that most likely will never be solved in our lifetime. From my previous understanding, 9/11 caused our society to change. Now I see 9/11 as a magnification of what our country has always been.

One thought on “freedom>everything

  1. Great post! I love that you said “Rather than blaming the never-ending conflict on ourselves, the U.S. uses 9/11 as a vehicle for responsibility.” I think that the US constantly takes charge and believes that we need to insert ourselves in other people’s conflicts. War is very expensive and should not be a first option. I agree with the last part when you said that “Now I see 9/11 as a magnification of what our country has always been.” this is a very interesting way to think, but valid.


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