Andrew Bacevich, professor at Boston University and retired U.S. Army Colonel, has emerged as a major voice in the discussion of American foreign policy and military actions. His most recent book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, a fairly popular level bestselling critique of “the illusions that have governed American policies since 1945” (reviewed here), follows upon an earlier, more substantial analysis–The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War.
The New American Militarism is a cry of alarm from an American patriot, a military man who breaks with his former associates on the political right. The key problem Bacevich identifies is the tendency for Americans to link the military might of our country with idealism about the universality of American values–leading to a destructive tendency to use the military to further “the American way of life.” And one of the major casualties of this tendency, he fears, will be American democracy itself.
Even if Bacevich is more sanguine about positive role the US military has played in the world and could still play than I am, I found his book overall to be extraordinarily helpful–clearly written, forcefully argued, well-documented, and ultimately quite persuasive. It is great to have confirmed the conviction that our current military and global political behavior is extraordinarily self-destructive for our country.