In his recent book Washington Rules Andrew Bacevich sums up what he calls the “credo” which many in power adhere to. In essence, the credo summons the United States and the United States alone to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world. Not only does this capture the essence to the previous administration’s Iraq policy, it also it sums up the view held by most U.S. presidents since Harry Truman. The image of America as a moral force for good in the world was nurtured by the heroism of World War II and the crusade against Hitler, and later the Cold War crusade against Communism.
According to Bacevich, President Obama, in spite of his rhetoric, has adhered to the national security consensus to which every president since 1945 has subscribed. This consensus consists of four parts. First, the world must be organized. In absence of such organization, chaos will surely rein. Secondly, only the United States possessed the capacity to prescribe and enforce such global order. Third, America’s writ includes the charge of articulating the principles that should define the international order. Forth and finally, aside from a few rogues and wayward nations, everyone understands and accepts this reality.
In conclusion, Bacevich offers an alternative to this consensus. Composed of three basic principles, Bacevich’s alternative is the clearest way forward towards ending the warfare state leviathan. First, the purpose of the U.S. military is not to combat evil or remake the world, but to defend the United States and its most vital interest. Secondly, the primary duty station of the American soldier is in America. Third, consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should employ force only as a last resort and only in self-defense.
Andrew Bacevich’s arguments are succinct and concise. As one who’s read a few books arguing against the warfare state, I would highly suggest Bacevich’s book.
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