Andrew J. Bacevich: America's Path to Permanent War

Conversations with History - Andrew J. Bacevich

Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor of History and International Relations Boston University.


Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Andrew Bacevich for a discussion of the causes and consequences of the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. Focusing on ideas at the heart of the American foreign policy consensus--"Washington Rules"--,Professor Bacevich zeroes in on the preconceived notion that America's role should be that of leader and guarantor of world order. Following from this assumption, according to Bacevich, are principles of implementation--"the holy trinity"-- that stipulate a global military presence, a global projection of military power, and an interventionist stance toward the global arena. Bacevich traces the origins of these ideas, the factors that sustain their existence for more than six decades, and demonstrates the failure of successive critics to change the discourse, such as 1960's critics, Senator William J. Fulbright and General David Shoup. Comparing Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush, Bacevich compares their responses to crisis and demonstrates that with each change of doctrine, technology, and political climate, all post World War II presidents continue on the path to permanent war. He offers a critique of General David Petreaus and the counterinsurgency doctrine and concludes with a call for establishing a more limited definition of America's role in the world, one which requires an informed and enlightened citizen.

KEYWORDS: Militarism.

Andrew J. Bacevich
Publication date: 
August 12, 2010
Publication type: 
Conversations with History