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For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America's military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.
In a vivid, incisive analysis, Andrew J. Bacevich succinctly presents the origins of this consensus, forged at a moment when American power was at its height. He exposes the preconceptions, biases, and habits that underlie our pervasive faith in military might, especially the notion that overwhelming superiority will oblige others to accommodate America's needs and desires—whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods. And he challenges the usefulness of our militarism as it has become both unaffordable and increasingly dangerous.
Though our politicians deny it, American global might is faltering. This is the moment, Bacevich argues, to reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world—to acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. Replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America's future, and may yet offer the key to the country's salvation.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jonnie on 10-13-10
Permanent war and insolvency...thanks Washington
This is not a book of partisan politics but if you still think there is any significant difference between the Democrat and Republican parties you need to read this book. How could such an incompetent and corrupt group of federal politicians squander such tremendous wealth, currently and into the foreseeable future? This book gives a historical and current perspective of where we stand politically and militarily. It is not a happy or encouraging view. Where are the statesmen who undestand how to run a nation for the national good and not for very limited self-interest, not in Washington. This book is very well written and interesting.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Nathan on 02-23-11
Coherent Argument Against the Warfare State
In his recent book Washington Rules Andrew Bacevich sums up what he calls the “credo” which many in power adhere to. In essence, the credo summons the United States and the United States alone to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world. Not only does this capture the essence to the previous administration’s Iraq policy, it also it sums up the view held by most U.S. presidents since Harry Truman. The image of America as a moral force for good in the world was nurtured by the heroism of World War II and the crusade against Hitler, and later the Cold War crusade against Communism.
According to Bacevich, President Obama, in spite of his rhetoric, has adhered to the national security consensus to which every president since 1945 has subscribed. This consensus consists of four parts. First, the world must be organized. In absence of such organization, chaos will surely rein. Secondly, only the United States possessed the capacity to prescribe and enforce such global order. Third, America’s writ includes the charge of articulating the principles that should define the international order. Forth and finally, aside from a few rogues and wayward nations, everyone understands and accepts this reality.
In conclusion, Bacevich offers an alternative to this consensus. Composed of three basic principles, Bacevich’s alternative is the clearest way forward towards ending the warfare state leviathan. First, the purpose of the U.S. military is not to combat evil or remake the world, but to defend the United States and its most vital interest. Secondly, the primary duty station of the American soldier is in America. Third, consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should employ force only as a last resort and only in self-defense.
Andrew Bacevich’s arguments are succinct and concise. As one who’s read a few books arguing against the warfare state, I would highly suggest Bacevich’s book.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful