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Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War | [Andrew J. Bacevich]

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America's military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.
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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of The Limits of Power critically examines the Washington consensus on national security and why it must change.

For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America's military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.

In a vivid, incisive analysis, Andrew J. Bacevich succinctly presents the origins of this consensus, forged at a moment when American power was at its height. He exposes the preconceptions, biases, and habits that underlie our pervasive faith in military might, especially the notion that overwhelming superiority will oblige others to accommodate America's needs and desires—whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods. And he challenges the usefulness of our militarism as it has become both unaffordable and increasingly dangerous.

Though our politicians deny it, American global might is faltering. This is the moment, Bacevich argues, to reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world—to acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. Replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America's future, and may yet offer the key to the country's salvation.

©2010 Andrew Bacevich (P)2010 Macmillan Audio

What the Critics Say

"U.S. Army colonel turned academic, Bacevich offers an unsparing, cogent, and important critique of assumptions guiding American military policy." (Publishers Weekly)

"Valiant...welcome thinking by a former military man who has seen the light." (Kirkus)

“Bacevich presents compelling and alarming evidence that our nation is locked into a counterproductive global military presence sustained by power projection and interventionism by military force. A must-read for all those concerned with America’s future.” (Lt. General, Ret., Robert G. Gard, Jr., Ph.D.)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 10-13-10
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 10-13-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Permanent war and insolvency...thanks Washington"

    This is not a book of partisan politics but if you still think there is any significant difference between the Democrat and Republican parties you need to read this book. How could such an incompetent and corrupt group of federal politicians squander such tremendous wealth, currently and into the foreseeable future? This book gives a historical and current perspective of where we stand politically and militarily. It is not a happy or encouraging view. Where are the statesmen who undestand how to run a nation for the national good and not for very limited self-interest, not in Washington. This book is very well written and interesting.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan Nashville, Tennessee, United States 02-23-11
    Nathan Nashville, Tennessee, United States 02-23-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    3
    1
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    "Coherent Argument Against the Warfare State"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan United States 01-30-11
    Dan United States 01-30-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Great entree, needs pepper."

    This “listen” is not riveting. Not even close. But the content is so compelling and so relevant to the events in the last ½ century, I am bumping it up a star. It discusses our (USA) state of endless war mostly from a military and political perspective. It could have benefited from a more in-depth discussion on how pressure from private industry also perpetuates our dilemma. If this content could be transformed into a riveting best seller it could change the world.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 05-14-12
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 05-14-12 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Challenge to What Most of Us Think about the U.S"

    As I read the book, it caused me to look back over the history I've lives through and to see it from a different point of view.

    I've long been uncomfortable with the presentation of history as Americans are fed it. We have have a notion that our prosperity is from God based on our devotion to Him and a set of ideals, neither of which are true. That faulty core belief drives our actions today in that we easily launch wars of grave consequence to many but with a self-righteousness on our part that cannot be supported in fact.

    The book is clearly written and easy to follow. The main idea is that our international policies do not change much from president to president despite party affiliation.

    Hopefully the current administration breaks with the past and prevents involvement in further war. I'd like Obama to have Obama Care as his achievement and nemesis rather than having his private war as every previous president has had.

    The book is very engaging. You'll enjoy the delivery. It's not necessary to agree with all of it to enjoy the listen. Highly recommend.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Lincoln, NE, United States 11-19-10
    Ed Lincoln, NE, United States 11-19-10
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    "A genuine and honest critique"

    Bacevich, a retired military officer and historian, asks the question,’ How did we come to a permanent state of war?’ For me, the take home message was not the how we got there but what to do now. As a nation we have a heritage of self reliance, democratic institutions, responsible citizenship, and resilient, responsive foreign policy. The cure is convincing, even if I do not agree with every step in the diagnosis of how we got here. The alternative as Bacevich sees it is continually expanding military commitments leading to bankruptcy and dependence - financial, moral, and ultimately military bankruptcy. It is sobering to contemplate the cost of our current international commitments.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David San Pedro, CA, United States 09-13-10
    David San Pedro, CA, United States 09-13-10
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    "Washington Rules?"

    This book is OK, It depends on what you are looking for. If you want a quick review of history then this is a good book for you. It does give a little spin on the truth of our history but it is basically what we already know. If you do not know and have never read about our real history and only what we teach in school then this will help you open your eyes to the truth about American history. "The ugly truth".

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Alvin Bertel Jr Metairie, LA USA 11-05-12
    C Alvin Bertel Jr Metairie, LA USA 11-05-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Must Read."
    What made the experience of listening to Washington Rules the most enjoyable?

    Concise analysis, based on facts.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish that the presidential candidates would read or listen to this book, but since they probably will not, at least you can so as to be better informed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Little Rock, AR, United States 12-28-11
    Rebecca Little Rock, AR, United States 12-28-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Should be required for all politically ambitious.."
    Would you listen to Washington Rules again? Why?

    Absolutely...the great amount of research would enlarge with more than one reading.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but it took several sittings and many repeated sections to resassure myself of what I was learning and/or getting clarified. The book is THAT transformational of the way citizens of the US think!


    Any additional comments?

    This book put many pieces I already knew into a whole picture, along with facts I never knew...I will insist that all friends read or listen to this book. The book is especially credible because it was written by a person with a military career. Every voter should read/listen...every politically ambitious candidate and/or adviser should be required to read/listen. This is a VERY IMPORTANT BOOK.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas M. 10-02-10
    Thomas M. 10-02-10 Member Since 2004
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    "Washington Rules"

    An excellent book. I'd like to recommend Col. Bracevich be appointed as the next Secretary of Defense upon Robert Gates' retirement. He'll need a whip and a chair (and possibly a few good funerals) to get the job done, but we'd all be better off for it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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