Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Limits of War -- Food for Thought: I am reading "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War" by Andrew Bachevich who according to Wiki is a professor of international relations at Boston University and a retired career officer in the United States Army. He is a former director of Boston University's Center for International Relations (from 1998 to 2005), and author of several books, including American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy (2002), The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (2005) and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (2008). He has been "a persistent, vocal critic of the US occupation of Iraq, calling the conflict a catastrophic failure." In March 2007, he described George W. Bush's endorsement of such "preventive wars" as "immoral, illicit, and imprudent." His son, also an Army officer, died fighting in the Iraq War in May 2007. In summer, 2010, he accused President Barack Obama of "want[ing] us to forget about the lessons of Iraq.":

I thought the following quotes from a blog on a Glen Greenwald article "The Great Generational Threat were food for thought:

"James Forrestal, the first person to serve as secretary of defense, coined a term to describe this permanent crisis. He called it semiwar. Conceived by Forrestal at the beginning of the Cold War, and reflecting his own anticommunist obsessions, semiwar defines a condition in which great dangers always threaten the United States and will continue doing so into the indefinite future. When not actively engaged in hostilities, the nation faces the prospect of hostilities beginning at any moment, with little or no warning. In the setting of national priorities, readiness to act becomes a supreme value.

Semiwarriors created the Washington Rules. Semiwarriors uphold them. Semiwarriors benefit from their persistence.

The scathing complaint of foreign policy critic Roger Morris, registered some thirty years ago, remains apt today. Average Americans, he wrote then, their attention absorbed by the problems of daily life at home, 'give the rest of planet only a distracted, fleeting glance.' Easily persuaded that the United States is called upon to lead, they leave it to others to work out the details. As a result, ordinary citizens remain 'heedless of the people and closed politics,' cloaked in secrecy, that formulate policies advertised as essential to the nation's safety and well-being. From time to time, 'dour, mostly anonymous men' emerge from behind closed doors to 'announce discreetly some fresh disaster.' Although inquiries and investigations inevitably ensue, the net effect is not to fix responsibility but to disperse it. Then the game continues, the terms of reference all but unaffected, the cast of characters largely unchanged, with Republican and Democratic insiders simply exchanging portfolios at periodic intervals."

-Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules