Free Forum Q&A – ANDREW BACEVICH U.S. Army, Colonel, Ret.(after 23 years) who lost his son in Iraq WASHINGTON RULES: America’s Path to Permanent WarWritten on June 26th, 2015
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.”
Last July in an interview with Charlie Rose, President Obama said that “the mistake” of the early years of his presidency was his failure to be a better storyteller.
“The mistake of my first couple of years was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important, but the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.” In a second term, he said, he would “spend more time with the American people, listening to them, but also being in a conversation with them about where do we go as a country?”
This week’s show is not about Obama or politics. It’s about story and narrative. My guest is JONATHAN GOTTSCHALL author of THE STORYTELLING ANIMAL.
The late evolutionary biologist Steven Jay Gould called humans “the primate who tells stories…” And it’s not just Gould. Anthropologists have found societies that have existed for millennia without the wheel, but they’ve never found one that doesn’t tell stories.
My website leads with a quote: “On the radio, I tell stories of a world that just might work. As a consultant, I help you tell yours.” Building on time as a teacher, two decades in the entertainment industry, and 15 years of radio interviews, I help non-profits, foundations, public agencies, and businesses to tell better stories and build better narratives.
I’m eager to learn from Jonathan what the latest science has to tell us. Why is narrative so powerful? What is its evolutionary value? And can what we’re learning help us get even better at tapping its power?
Left, Right & Center
The global markets have been heading steadily south for the last two weeks, but on Thursday, they took a sharp dive. The Dow lost more than four percent of its value, its worst day in three years. As our program went to air on Friday afternoon, the markets continued to sputter downward. There was a bit of good news: unemployment went down and jobs went up in July, but only slightly. The jobs report appears to have prevented another day like Thursday on Wall Street, but is it enough to calm investor fears that we're entering into a double-dip recession? And with the grim economic forecast and a bruising fight over the budget, what are the political implications of all this for President Obama and lawmakers on Capitol Hill? What are their prospects for re-election? (Terrence McNally sits in for Matt Miller. Chrystia Freeland joins us as our special guest panelist.)
Terrence fills in on the air for Warren Olney - "To the Point" on 89.9 KCRW Santa Monica and KCRW.com
As the markets and the public look on nervously, the clock continues to tick on negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling. As leaders from both parties develop separate plans, one of the contested issues is the length of any extension. President Obama and the Democrats want to put the issue to rest till after the 2012 election, while the Republicans want to keep the government on a shorter leash. Also, more details on the Oslo shooter's mentality, and wedding bells ring in gay Manhattan.