Articles by: Andrew Bacevich

The Unasked Questions of 2022

The Unasked Questions of 2022

Britons mourned the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and understandably so. The outpouring of affection for their long-serving monarch was more than commendable, it was touching. Yet count me among those mystified that so many Americans also professed to care. With all due respect to Queen Latifah, we decided way back in 1776 that we’d had our fill of royalty. Mere[Read More…]

by 16/11/2022 Comments are Disabled World
Will the U.S. Learn Anything from Putin’s Disastrous Invasion?

Will the U.S. Learn Anything from Putin’s Disastrous Invasion?

In Washington, wide agreement exists that the Russian army’s performance in the Kremlin’s ongoing Ukraine “special military operation” ranks somewhere between lousy and truly abysmal. The question is: Why? The answer in American policy circles, both civilian and military, appears all but self-evident. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has stubbornly insisted on ignoring the principles, practices, and methods identified as necessary for[Read More…]

by 14/09/2022 Comments are Disabled World
After the American Century

After the American Century

“The American Century Is Over.” So claims the July 2022 cover of Harper’s Magazine, adding an all-too-pertinent question: “What’s Next?” What, indeed? Eighty years after the United States embarked upon the Great Crusade of World War II, a generation after it laid claim to the status of sole superpower following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and two decades after the Global[Read More…]

by 13/07/2022 Comments are Disabled World
In this April 3, 1968, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his last public appearance at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: AP/Charles Kelly, File)

American Militarism, A Persistent Malady

Putin Changed the Subject, But Confronting Martin Luther King’s “Giant Triplets” Is More Urgent Than Ever I recently participated in a commemoration of Martin Luther King’s address “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence,” originally delivered on April 2, 1967, at New York City’s Riverside Church. King used the occasion to announce his opposition to the ongoing war in[Read More…]

by 15/04/2022 1 comment Imperialism
Reflections from the Netherworld

Reflections from the Netherworld

Advice from JFK to President Biden Dear Mr. President: I send greetings from the other side — and no, I don’t mean the other side of the aisle. I refer to the place where old politicians go to make amends for their sins. Apart from our shared Catholicism and affinity for sunglasses, I suspect you and I don’t have a[Read More…]

by 01/03/2022 Comments are Disabled World
A Very Long War – From Vietnam to Afghanistan with Detours Along the Way

A Very Long War – From Vietnam to Afghanistan with Detours Along the Way

In the long and storied history of the United States Army, many young officers have served in many war zones. Few, I suspect, were as sublimely ignorant as I was in the summer of 1970 upon my arrival at Cam Ranh Bay in the Republic of Vietnam. Granted, during the years of schooling that preceded my deployment there, I had[Read More…]

by 24/01/2022 1 comment Imperialism
America’s Underperforming Military

America’s Underperforming Military

Professional sports is a cutthroat business. Succeed and the people running the show reap rich rewards. Fail to meet expectations and you get handed your walking papers. American-style war in the twenty-first century is quite a different matter. Of course, war is not a game. The stakes on the battlefield are infinitely higher than on the playing field. When wars[Read More…]

by 21/12/2021 1 comment Imperialism
President Joe Biden speaks about the end of the war in Afghanistan from the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Last Progressive – Joe Biden and Illusions of “Normalcy”

In a provocative recent essay in the New York Times, the political historian Jon Grinspan places the distemper currently afflicting American politics in a broader context. In essence, he contends that we’ve been here before. Grinspan describes the period from the 1860s to 1900 as an “age of acrimony,” with the nation as a whole “embroiled in a generation-long, culturewide war over democracy.” Today,[Read More…]

by 15/11/2021 1 comment World
So Long, CENTCOM, and Good Riddance!

So Long, CENTCOM, and Good Riddance!

The bad news stemming from the ill-planned and ill-managed U.S. evacuation of the Afghan capital just kept coming in. The Washington Post put it this way in blowing the whistle on the culminating disaster: “U.S. military admits ‘horrible mistake’ in Kabul drone strike that killed 10 Afghans.” Following the August 26th terrorist attack outside Hamid Karzai International Airport that took the lives of 13[Read More…]

by 30/09/2021 Comments are Disabled Imperialism
      Baz Ratner/Reuters US troops in Afghanistan, June 2011

Answering the Armies of the Cheated – But No Questions about War Please!

“The thirty-year interregnum of U.S. global hegemony,” writes David Bromwich in the journal Raritan, “has been exposed as a fraud, a decoy, a cheat, [and] a sell.” Today, he continues, “the armies of the cheated are struggling to find the word for something that happened and happened wrong.” In fact, the armies of the cheated know exactly what happened, even if they[Read More…]

by 05/08/2021 Comments are Disabled Imperialism
The Passing of the Present and the Decline of America

The Passing of the Present and the Decline of America

“I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) Kurt Vonnegut’s famous novel about the World War II bombing of the German city of Dresden appeared the year I graduated from West Point. While dimly aware that its publication qualified as a literary event, I felt[Read More…]

by 28/06/2021 Comments are Disabled Imperialism
War as the Enemy of Reform

War as the Enemy of Reform

Is President Biden afflicted with the political equivalent of a split personality?  His first several months in office suggest just that possibility.  On the home front, the president’s inclination is clearly to Go Big.  When it comes to America’s role in the world, however, Biden largely hews to pre-Trumpian precedent.  So far at least, the administration’s overarching foreign-policy theme is[Read More…]

by 18/05/2021 Comments are Disabled World
      Baz Ratner/Reuters US troops in Afghanistan, June 2011

Requiem for the American Century

“Ours is the cause of freedom. We’ve defeated freedom’s enemies before, and we will defeat them again… [W]e know our cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured… My fellow Americans, let’s roll.” — George W. Bush, November 8, 2001 In the immediate wake of 9/11, it fell to President George W. Bush to explain to his fellow citizens what[Read More…]

by 29/03/2021 Comments are Disabled Imperialism
On Shedding an Obsolete Past – Biden Defers to the Blob

On Shedding an Obsolete Past – Biden Defers to the Blob

You may have noticed: the Blob is back. Beneath a veneer of gender and racial diversity, the Biden national security team consists of seasoned operatives who earned their spurs in Washington long before Donald Trump showed up to spoil the party. So, if you’re looking for fresh faces at the departments of state or defense, the National Security Council or[Read More…]

by 11/03/2021 Comments are Disabled World
Beyond Donald Trump

Beyond Donald Trump

When Martin Luther King preached his famous sermon “Beyond Vietnam” at Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967, I don’t recall giving his words a second thought. Although at the time I was just up the Hudson River attending West Point, his call for a “radical revolution in values” did not resonate with me. By upbringing and given[Read More…]

by 12/02/2021 Comments are Disabled World
Reflections on Vietnam and Iraq: The Lessons of Two Failed Wars

Reflections on Vietnam and Iraq: The Lessons of Two Failed Wars

In choosing a title for his final, posthumously published book, the prominent public intellectual Tony Judt turned to a poem by Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, published in 1770. Judt found his book’s title in the first words of this couplet: Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey Where wealth accumulates, and men decay A poignant sentiment but let me acknowledge that[Read More…]

by 22/12/2020 1 comment Imperialism
      Baz Ratner/Reuters US troops in Afghanistan, June 2011

 Actually Ending the War in Afghanistan

Let’s open up and sing, and ring the bells out Ding-dong! the merry-oh sing it high, sing it low Let them know the wicked witch is dead! Within establishment circles, Donald Trump’s failure to win re-election has prompted merry singing and bell-ringing galore. If you read the New York Times or watch MSNBC, the song featured in the 1939 movie The Wizard of[Read More…]

by 25/11/2020 2 comments Imperialism
Reframing America’s Role in the World: The Specter of Isolationism

Reframing America’s Role in the World: The Specter of Isolationism

The so-called Age of Trump is also an age of instantly forgotten bestselling books, especially ones purporting to provide the inside scoop on what goes on within Donald Trump’s haphazard and continuously shifting orbit. With metronomic regularity, such gossipy volumes appear, make a splash, and almost as quickly vanish, leaving a mark no more lasting than a trout breaking the[Read More…]

by 19/10/2020 Comments are Disabled World
Biden Wins-Then What?

Biden Wins-Then What?

Assume Joe Biden wins the presidency. Assume as well that he genuinely intends to repair the damage our country has sustained since we declared ourselves history’s “Indispensable Nation,” compounded by the traumatic events of 2020 that demolished whatever remnants of that claim survived. Assume, that is, that this aging career politician and creature of the Washington establishment really intends to salvage something[Read More…]

by 13/08/2020 Comments are Disabled World
In this April 3, 1968, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his last public appearance at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: AP/Charles Kelly, File)

 Martin Luther King’s Giant Triplets – Racism, Yes, But What About Militarism and Materialism?

In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, Americans are finally — or is it once again? — confronting the racism that afflicts this country and extends into just about every corner of our national life. Something fundamental just might be happening. Yet to state the obvious, we’ve been here before. Mass protests in response to racial inequality and discrimination,[Read More…]

by 23/06/2020 Comments are Disabled World
 The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom

 The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom

Americans are facing “A Spring Unlike Any Before.” So warned a front-page headline in the March 13th New York Times. That headline, however hyperbolic, was all too apt. The coming of spring has always promised relief from the discomforts of winter. Yet, far too often, it also brings its own calamities and afflictions. According to the poet T.S. Eliot, “April is the[Read More…]

by 27/03/2020 Comments are Disabled World
 A Report Card on the American Project- The “Revolution of ’89” Reassessed

 A Report Card on the American Project- The “Revolution of ’89” Reassessed

Thirty years ago this month, President George H.W. Bush appeared before a joint session of Congress to deliver his first State of the Union Address, the first post-Cold War observance of this annual ritual. Just weeks before, the Berlin Wall had fallen. That event, the president declared, “marks the beginning of a new era in the world’s affairs.” The Cold War,[Read More…]

by 07/01/2020 Comments are Disabled World
Donald Trump and the Ten Commandments (Plus One) of the National Security State

Donald Trump and the Ten Commandments (Plus One) of the National Security State

Let us stipulate at the outset that Donald Trump is a vulgar and dishonest fraud without a principled bone in his corpulent frame. Yet history is nothing if not a tale overflowing with irony. Despite his massive shortcomings, President Trump appears intent on recalibrating America’s role in the world. Initiating a long-overdue process of aligning U.S. policy with actually existing[Read More…]

by 01/11/2019 1 comment World