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Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (American Empire Project)
 
 

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (American Empire Project) [Kindle Edition]

Andrew J. Bacevich
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

""Washington Rules" is a tough-minded, bracing and intelligent polemic against some 60 years of American militarism. . . . As foreign policy debates in the run-up to the November elections degenerate into Muslim-bashing bombast, the country is lucky to have a fierce, smart peacemonger like Bacevich."--"New York Times Book Review" "Eloquent and, above all, passionate. . . Any serious foreign-policy thinker should heed his call."--"Newsweek""" "Brilliant. . . A convincing critique of America's conduct of war since 1941. . . . Bacevich advocates a more level-headed assessment of danger, advice all the more cogent since it comes from a former soldier."--"Washington Post" "A reader doesn't have to be a policy wonk to appreciate Bacevich's methodical analysis. It's a reality check: crisp, cogent and straightforward."--"The Buffalo News" "Engaging and insightful. . . A timely analysis and critique of contemporary and historical defense policies. His writing style is anything but wonkish, and he is great at the clever turn of phrase. . . . Thought provoking."--"The Washington Times" "Bacevich, who has excellent credentials and writes with authority about military strategy and international politics, deserves a hearing."--"The Boston Globe" Bacevich hits upon a truth that cannot be dismissed. . . Eloquent and damning. . . impressively reader-friendly. Bacevich writes with a gut-wrenching honesty that gives his charges a credibility frequently missing in pop denunciations of America's imperial outreach. . . . One of the best accounts we have of our childlike dependence on the security war-making seems to offer but never quite delivers."--"Commonweal""Bacevich comes with more than just book smarts to question American military power. . . Bacevich is right: there is something un-American about maintaining a huge presence around the world and pursuing endless war without sharp focus or clear goals."--"Air Force Times" "Passionate, personal, and polemical. . .

Product Description

The bestselling author of The Limits of Power critically examines the Washington consensus on national security and why it must change

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.



Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 414 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0805091416
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; Reprint edition (3 Aug 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003P9VOGW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #405,003 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Washington Rules is the book that you'd hope that everyone in power would read, especially in the western democracies, and of course in the USA. But they won't, and if they did, they'd ignore it. Especially in the USA. Andrew Bacevich is in no two minds about this, indeed his book even underlines the fact.

Written by a Boston history professor who in a previous existence was a professional American soldier with the rank of colonel, the book examines clearly and succinctly just what the US is up to as it performs its self-appointed role of global policeman and why it feels it necessary to perform this task at all.

Bacevich experienced an epiphany when, still in the army, he visited East Germany when the Wall came down. So this was the mighty foe he had spent his professional existence combating - a nation of run-down factories, crumbling infrastructure and antiquated cars. It dawned on him that the image he had been given of an all-powerful menace which might leap into aggressive action at any given moment, was something less than the truth. It sparked his own education, a desire to understand what were the mechanics behind US actions.

What he came up with, and what the book examines, was that the US has been acting for the entire post-war period under a credo which states that the US, and the US alone, should lead, save, liberate and ultimately transform the world, for such purposes as it sees fit, and in any way that it sees fit. This problematic credo - problematic for the rest of the globe, which hasn't much asked to be led, saved, liberated or transformed - is enacted through what Bacevich describes as a sacred trinity of global military presence, global power projection, and global interventionism. Suddenly, America's actions since WW2 all start to make sense.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By RSProds TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Five ENGROSSING Stars!! This is Andrew J Bacevich's outstanding, deeply researched, hard-hitting work of scholarship, assessing America's national and foreign policies as well as the personalities and groups that have led us into the business of confrontation, power projection, and war, time and time again. Essentially this book is the outgrowth of Mr. Bacevich's 20 year self-education, which began at the age of 41 as a military officer who began to see the international world in a new light based on an epiphany at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Looking at well over six decades of wartime policy and actions in the "American Century", Mr Bacevich discloses the "Washington Rules" and the credo wherein the USA has assumed the mantle of attempting to "lead, save, liberate, and transform" the world to assure international order and peace. He takes us from the Truman-era administrations to the Obama administration, detailing how the "sacred trinity" of global military presence, global power projection, global interventionism is used to achieve those ends, using his "Washington Rules" as the template. The Jimmy Carter segment was particularly eye-opening. Mr Bacevich shows that regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in power, the US has had an attitude that we are uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II, Vietnam, and beyond that might have taken the USA into periods of unprecedented peace, instead of numerous conflicts. Lessons that the author shows President Obama is clearly in the midst of learning, using a modified sacred trinity. Written in engaging prose, this is a very absorbing work of research with sections that some may find very troubling based on the decisions of our leaders. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate, Informed And Brilliant 9 Oct 2012
By demola
Format:Paperback
This is a highly informed and passionate writing of the state America finds itself in with respect to the rest of the world: i.e a state of permanent war driven by the belief of a section of America's ruling class that the country needs to be constantly fighting new enemies (Korea, Vietnam, The USSR, the Taliban, Saddam etc) as a reason or pretext for the projection and spreading of American influence. And for profit.

Americans, it seems, believe in a providential right to be the world's policeman and to intervene where and how they deem fit (for peace and democracy, ostensibly). So we have this travesty: three thousand Americans die in 9/11 and the whole world has to pay. Half a million Iraqi children die from US sanctions and Madeline Albright, the Secretary of State, says: "It's a hard choice, but I think, we think, it's worth it".

I have met a few Americans (on the right) who are always bemoaning the size of the US debt and wailing about how the country is going to pay for (healthcare, education, infrastructure etc). Bacevich quotes Ike Eisenhower: "The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities; two fine, fully equipped hospitals ...". This was in the 1950s. Paradoxically, the citizens of god's own country would rather fellow citizens die from waste than give up making bombs. Bacevich believes that it is time America attends to home issues and focuses on becoming an example of a prosperous and thriving democracy; this being more fruitful than the ruinous path on which the country seems bent on taking.

Well researched and well-written.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  113 reviews
194 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN OUTSTANDING ASSESSMENT OF THE "WASHINGTON RULES": USA WARTIME POLICIES & ACTIONS 5 Aug 2010
By RSProds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Five ENGROSSING Stars!! This is Andrew J Bacevich's outstanding, deeply researched, hard-hitting work of scholarship, assessing America's national and foreign policies as well as the personalities and groups that have led us into the business of confrontation, power projection, and war, time and time again. Essentially this book is the outgrowth of Mr. Bacevich's 20 year self-education, which began at the age of 41 as a military officer who began to see the international world in a new light based on an epiphany at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Looking at well over six decades of wartime policy and actions in the "American Century", Mr Bacevich discloses the "Washington Rules" and the credo wherein the USA has assumed the mantle of attempting to "lead, save, liberate, and transform" the world to assure international order and peace. He takes us from the Truman-era administrations to the Obama administration, detailing how the "sacred trinity" of global military presence, global power projection, global interventionism is used to achieve those ends, using his "Washington Rules" as the template. The Jimmy Carter segment was particularly eye-opening. Mr Bacevich shows that regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in power, the US has had an attitude that we are uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II, Vietnam, and beyond that might have taken the USA into periods of unprecedented peace, instead of numerous conflicts. Lessons that the author shows President Obama is clearly in the midst of learning, using a modified sacred trinity. Written in engaging prose, this is a very absorbing work of research with sections that some may find very troubling based on the decisions of our leaders. If I could recommend one book that President Obama and the Congress should read, this is it. But it should also be read by those who were and were not alive during our 20th Century to 21st Century wars and military encounters. My Highest Recommendation! Five ABSORBING Stars!! (This review is based on a Kindle download in iPhone mode and Kindle text-to-speech mode.)
94 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bacevich Connects the Dots 6 Aug 2010
By Citizen John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Andrew Bacevich offers an explanation of what is putting our way of life at risk. If he is correct, the Afghan War has no end in sight as did the Iraq War (see Charles Ferguson's book: No End in Sight: Iraq's Descent into Chaos). In fact, the Afghan War is now the longest war in U.S. history.

Retired U.S. military and intelligence personnel have written prolifically about the current wars and what they mean for the U.S. They educate the public about connecting foreign policy to war strategy to what our young enlisted men and women do in the wars. Examples include books by Wesley Clark (A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country), Michael Scheuer (Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq) and David Bellavia (HOUSE TO HOUSE: A TALE OF MODERN WAR). In the history of warfare, there has probably never been a population with as much access to information about their wars.

Washington Rules provides analysis of the considerations that President Obama faced when he made the decision to expand the military effort in Afghanistan. Whereas the consensus holds that this president grasps issues and is not primarily informed by ideology, there may have been a dominant domestic political calculation to this war decision. Bacevich identifies pressures imposed on our president by the "military industrial complex" and the "national security apparatus." These loaded terms summarize privileged powers within the U.S. that seek global military engagement in part to maintain the status quo within. This is the Status Quo argument that has been used to explain some U.S. motives in the wars.

Andrew Bacevich has patriotic credentials to state the Status Quo argument. He has been doing this for some time. (See his previous book: The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project)). His son was killed in Iraq while serving as a 1st Lt. in the Army. Andrew Bacevich is a veteran of the Vietnam War, a graduate of West Point and he taught at both West Point and Johns Hopkins. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. He is a retired Army Colonel.

Bacevich is critical of George W. Bush and Barack Obama but for completely different reasons. Bacevich addresses the question debated from California to the New York Island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters: which is worse, the president who sends young people into harm's way due to misguided notions or the president who sends young people into harm's way because of political calculation? Of course, this question is framed in a simple way in order to introduce debate. Bacevich is more appalled by the latter, however.

Washington Rules traces America's overreliance on military power from the administration of Woodrow Wilson right up to that of Barack Obama. Over time the U.S. presidency morphed into an imperial presidency with a self-imposed mission to intervene in problems throughout the world irrespective of long-term U.S. interests. An exaggerated sense of what the military can accomplish went unquestioned until recently. Bacevich makes history come alive with applications of the lessons of the Vietnam War along with several other wars.

Washington Rules addresses the following questions. What did we get out of Desert Storm? What should our role be with regard to the Islamic World? What happens if we back down in Afghanistan? Bacevich asks tough questions and that's healthy. It's taking me time to digest his solutions to these issues although I'm excited about changes to the status quo. With regard to the Middle East, Bacevich says our role should be to demonstrate that liberalism can coexist with religion.

Finally, Washington Rules is entertaining because it's almost a horror story in real time. These issues affect our way of life right now. Teachers across the country are being laid off as the States struggle with their budgets, and I wonder how that might be related to federal debt accumulated to finance the wars. Bacevich is a Declinist in that he flatly states that the American Century is over and we have reached certain limits.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History defines our lives and beliefs 7 Aug 2010
By Outlaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bacevich is a genius in his own right. He see's though the night like an infrared scope. I am going to read his book a second time to pick up what I missed. Bacevich takes us down the memory hole of the past and reminds us what was said as if all of it forgotten.

I think the most salient point he makes is that of the domino effect in reverse. He explains how we entered the Vietnam war at that time on this propaganda and how we fell for the reverse propaganda that we could create a new new domino effect of "democracy" by preemptive war, and most all of us fell for it, including me.

I however want to do this cursory review upon my first reading, but may edit it on the second as there is so much that he says that is not only prudent and relevant to our time, while simultaneously exposes the misjudgment, however one may see it.

Edit: It takes a while to fully Grok Bacevich, who tells us it is not Washington that makes us what we are it is us. And until we decide to stop the madness, the madness will not stop. Bacevich ends his book with these four words. "We too, must choose" And we must, shall we continue down this line and break ourselves or shall we become a great and prosperous country once again? It is up to us not Washington, it is up to me an you. A prophet is without honor in his own land. We can wish all we want, but practical realities define our position.

The brilliance of this piece is that it is not judgmental nor partisan, it is just the truth. He lays out the facts in such a succinct way that it mesmerized me. Bacevich will be remembered as a patriot and a true military man in search of truth, not unlike Smedley Butler.
55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True, but Undersold - 6 Aug 2010
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Time has expired on the 'American Century,' says retired Col. Bacevich, and this is the time to reject militarism and recognize that fixing Detroit takes precedence over Afghanistan. Bacevich's aim is to re-examine assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined our foreign/military policy since the end of WWII. All well and good, but Bacevich devotes too many pages to recounting how we got to this point post-WWII, mostly focused on individuals such as Curtis LeMay, Allen Dulles, Maxwell Taylor, etc. Almost no attention is given to how support for Israel, Iraq War I and the subsequent stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, etc. brought us 9/11, a never-ending state of War on Terrorism, and the organizational monstrosity known as the Dept. of Homeland Security with its 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies consuming unknown billions of dollars.

Our self-appointed role of leading, liberating, and saving the world through activism, hard power, and negotiating from strength continues today - DOD has become the Department of Global Policing, and President Obama finds himself continuing the model laid down since 1945. The author also skims over too quickly how we have exhausted the authority and goodwill acquired immediately after WWII - via the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Iraq I and II, Afghanistan I and II, the 2007 Recession, going from the world's largest creditor to debtor nation, decades of trade and government deficits, energy profligacy, decaying cities, manufacturing, and infrastructure, Katrina, supporting dictators and human rights abusers, etc.

DOD consumes $700 billion/year (I'm assuming that includes Iraq and Afghanistan), while stationing 300,000 troops abroad in 761 sites in 39 nations, plus 90,000 sailors and marines at sea. Our expenditures approximate those of the rest of the world combined. and are propelling us towards insolvency and perpetual war.

An excellent example of how we are digging ourselves into a hole occurred just this week when the U.S. announced the State Department is in advanced discussions with Vietnam to share nuclear fuels and technologies in a deal that would preserve Hanoi's right to enrich uranium indigenously. This obviously undermines our containment stance vs. North Korea and Iran, and is intended to somehow intimidate China. Similarly, the U.S. is also supporting India's enrichment and military-fuel capability efforts - again to somehow intimidate China. Meanwhile, we also parade a flotilla of ships nearby off South Korea to intimidate North Korea, and further irritate China.(They now have, or soon will have, supersonic missiles capable of raining down on our aircraft carrier task forces - a great example of asymmetric warfare that makes our Navy look obsolete and a near total waste.) And then we wonder why China is modernizing its military.

Col. Bacevich's conclusion - "It's time (for America) to choose."
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Part 3 of a Trilogy 17 Sep 2010
By David - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First off, I agree with most of Bacevich's points. However, if you have read two of his previous books, "The New American Militarism" and "The Limits of Power," you'll notice something...that all three of his books basically say the SAME THING. Also, he doesn't really provide too many answers on how to fix the problem, other than to say that Americans need to consume less (good luck with that). Taken in isolation, this book would be 5 stars, but when you read his prior books, this current offering lacks enough originality to get more than 3 stars.
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