Originally Aired August 2010
President Obama’s recent decision to add an additional 450 American soldiers to our 3,000 strong train-and-equip mission in Iraq made me reach for a dose of ANDREW BACEVICH, a voice of sanity on issues of war and peace. Bacevich wrote of Obama’s move in an op-ed, Washington in Wonderland: Down the Iraq Rabbit Hole (Again).
In WASHINGTON RULES, the 2010 book we talk about in this interview, Bacevich (in his own words) “..aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II — the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.
The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American Credo — …to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world.
…With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion (often styled ‘negotiating from a position of strength”) over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required by self-defense.”