UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXVII: September 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m. Andrew J.

Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, August 2010). [Thesis. The Washington consensus on national security policy that constitutes convention wisdom in American foreign policy began with the Cold War and survived, remarkably, the Vietnam War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, no longer serves American interests, but the failure of the Obama administration to alter it shows that change can only come from the American people.] Introduction: Slow Learner. The author's faith in orthodoxy began to crumble when visiting the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in the winter of 1990-1991 (1-4). In October 1990 a visit to Jena revealed the backwardness of East Germany (4-6). During his years in the Army, Bacevich had kept down doubts; after the end of the Cold War he retired, and his loss of status freed him to educate himself (6-10). "George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition" (10). "This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom" (11). The past 60 years of American history shows continuity: a symbiotic "credo" (formulated by Henry Luce in 1941 as the "American Century") and a "sacred trinity" ("the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism") together define "the rules to which Washington adheres" (1115). In this book, "Washington" refers to the upper echelons of the three branches of government, the main agencies of the national security state, select think tanks and interest groups, "big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government" (15). This book aspires to (1) trace the history of the Washington rules; (2) show who wins, who loses, and who pays under them; (3) explain how it is perpetuated; (4) show that the rules have lost what utility they might once have had; and (5) re-legitimate "disreputable (or 'radical') views to our national security debates" (16). The American Century is ending, and it "has become essential" to devise an "alternative to the reining national security paradigm" (16-18). Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar. As president, Barack Obama's efforts to change the U.S.'s exercise of power "have seldom risen above the cosmetic" (20). He made clear he subscribes to the "catechism of American statecraft," viz. that 1) the world must be organized, 2) only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles, and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (2021). It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain a worldwide network of bases (22-23). Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (2325). The extraordinary American military posture in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale (27). James Forrestal called this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending (27-28). American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came about, the "standard story line" presents as the result of the decisions of a "succession of presidential administrations," though this

conceals as much as it reveals (30-32). Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address on the "military-industrial complex" was a rare exception (32-34). More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [18931969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (3436). Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (5255). They exploited American anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles's CIA) yang (LeMay's SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position (55-58). Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control. Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional forces that was "simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response" (60; 59-63). This agenda purported to aim at "resisting aggression" but really created new options for limited aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66). McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack "triad" and LeMay et al. "got most of what they wanted" (66-72). In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally "indefensible" Operation Mongoose," in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism" against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like

Operation Northwoods]). U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this (albeit privately) and "suspended the tradition" in defusing the crisis (82-87). Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest in Kennedy's assassination itself (87-92). He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post9/11 aggression as "fought to sustain the Washington consensus" (107; 92-107). Ch. 3: The Credo Restored. William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15). A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the Marine Corps, argued in "The New American Militarism" (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become "a militaristic and aggressive nation" (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay "an embarrassment, mocked and vilified rather than venerated," which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27). Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) was "fully restored" (127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse "the war's apparent verdict" (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34). By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36). Reagan's election "sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). And the end of the Cold War posed no challenge to the Washington rules, as

Madeleine Albright's pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45). Ch. 4: Reconstituting the Trinity. The period from 1980 to 2000 saw "not retrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The new mission was not American defense but facilitation of a new world order (148-50). After 9/11 this pretense was dropped and "[a]ctivism became the watchword" (150, emphasis in original; 150-52). Resorting to war became "notably more frequent and less controversial" in 1980-2000, finding "its ultimate expression in the Bush Doctrine of preventive war" (152-53). Americans "passively assented" (154). Behind the scenes, the shape this took was struggled over by the officer corps and civilian semiwarriors pushing RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) (154-64). Initially, U.S. élites held that victory in Iraq demonstrated that speed could be substituted for mass in military campaigns (165-75). But the experience of the occupation revealed this to be a fantasy (175-81). Ch. 5: Counterfeit COIN. Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, replacing "shock and awe" as "the Long War" replaced the "global war on terror," is the latest doctrinal effort to preserve the Washington rules (182-86). The socalled "surge" implicitly marked a quest for conditions allowing the U.S. to leave Iraq without admitting defeat (186-91). Gen. David Petraeus emerged as an advocate (and as salesman, through FM 3-24, the manual he revised and which Bacevich insists is in its emphasis on narrative replete with postmodernism) of counterinsurgency doctrine as "a substitute [for warfare] suited to the exercise of great power politics in the twilight of modernity" (197; 191-97). Implicitly, the manual argues that "war as such . . . no longer worked" (198; 198202). Petraeus took credit for progress in Iraq that he did not achieve (202-04). The general with a Princeton Ph.D. was

lionized with a view to normalizing war and lowering expectations, a view now embraced by the Obama administration (205-11). Proponents of global counterinsurgency (GCOIN) emerged, like John Nagl and Gen. Benet Sacolick (21113). Obama embraced the GCOIN version of the Long War with Gen. Stanley McChrystal to carry it out in Afghanistan, forfeiting the opportunity to reassess American policy (213-21). Ch. 6: Cultivating Our Own Garden. Time-honored no-nonsense American pragmatism has turned into an absurdityswallowing herd mentality (222-23). The problem set the U.S. faces has radically changed from the time of the early Cold War, but the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) that proposes to address them remains essentially the same (224-25). Eisenhower would have been appalled (225-26). The size of the Pentagon budget, the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the extent of overseas military presence cannot be justified (226-27). These persist because of the interests they serve, not the mission they fulfill, and are likely to do so for some time (228-30). Bacevich invokes George Kennan, William Fulbright, and Martin Luther King Jr. in urging that the U.S. needs a new approach, to model freedom rather than impose it (231-37). First and foremost, America should save not the world but itself (237). Bacevich proposes a new trinity: 1) the purpose of the military is to defend the U.S. and its vital interests; 2) soldiers' primary duty stations are on American soil; 3) force should be used only as a last resort and in self-defense, in accord with the Just War tradition (238-41). The American public must shoulder its complicity in what has happened, fostered by an allvolunteer force and debt-financed budgets (241-47). It is tragic that Barack Obama, elected to institute change, has lacked the courage to alter the Washington rules, instead "choosing to conform" (247-49). "If change is to

come, it must come from the people" (249). The need for education "has become especially acute" (249; 249-50). Notes. 19 pp. Acknowledgments. Friends, colleagues, and the editors at Metropolitan Books (198). Index. 14 pp. About the Author. Andrew Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He has written for Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, The Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. [Additional information. Andrew J. Bacevich was born in 1947 in, poignantly, Normal, Illinois. He graduated from West Point in 1969 and served for a year in Vietnam (19701971). He retired from the U.S. Army in the early 1990s with the rank of colonel. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. diplomatic history from Princeton. He has taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins. At Boston University he teaches courses on “The American Military Experience,” “American Foreign Policy,” “Wars of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries,” “Ideas and American Foreign Policy,” and “U.S. Foreign Policy since the End of the Cold War.” He is the author of American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (2002) The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (2005), and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (2008), and he is the editor of The Imperial Tense: Problems and Prospects of American Empire (2003) and The Long War: A New History of U.S. National Security Policy since World War II (2007). Bacevich is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition to the son they lost in Iraq, he and his wife Nancy have three daughters, to

whom Washington Rules is dedicated. Bacevich, who once described himself as a “Catholic conservative,” has emerged as a leading mainstream critic of American militarism (though he avoided the word in The Limits of Power). He is politically non-partisan.] Critique. Andrew Bacevich's latest book begins with an intriguing personal analysis of why he was so "slow" to acknowledge and study American imperialism and militarism, but these pages only scratch the surface of his experience (the author may well be reserving a fuller account for later in his writing career). Washington Rules is curiously evasive in other ways as well. Though Bacevich is arguing for relegitimizing radical analysis of American imperialism and militarism and has used those terms in the past, there is nothing radical in his text. He uses the term imperialism only twice and militarism only twice, though in 2005 he titled a book The New American Militarism. — Bacevich seems to be seeking to remain within the mainstream while articulating an analysis that is palatable to an American public indoctrinated with antiradicalism (an indoctrination that can be traced much more deeply in the pattern of American history than is acknowledged in this book, which for the most part takes World War II as its point of departure). Even Reinhold Niebuhr, who presided over his previous book, is never mentioned here, though he is scarcely a radical. — As part of this cautious approach, Bacevich carefully omits pieces of evidence that point to a darker version of American history, and in doing so, he downplays the role of corporations and the struggle for resources like oil, scarcely mentioned here. This refusal to examine the deeper motives behind what he calls "the Washington rules" enfeebles his analysis, but also makes it more acceptable to the average American reader. — Gerard De Groot in the

Washington Post called the book "excellent" and "brilliant," but Bacevich's toned-down approach is still too radical for the New York Times, which published a pathetic review according to which his "annoying references to America's supposed 'emperor-president' sound paranoid and ring false. They make it hard to take the argument seriously" (Jonathan Tepperman, "We Got Trouble", New York Times Book Review [Sept. 14, 2010]—actually, the phrase "emperorpresident" appears on p. 69 of Bacevich's

previous book, The Limits of Power; we didn't notice it here). — Bacevich is also weak on the privatization of war and national security work and on the role of domestic politics and of media in the management of public opinion. However, his book can perhaps be recommended for those who are beginning to criticize mainstream thinking. The book appeared on the New York Times Book Review bestseller list on Sept. 26, 2010.

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