The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
a book by Andrew J. Bacevich
(our site's book review)
Bacevich is the swinging banjo in the movie Deliverance, forewarning us of grave repercussions should we continue on the wrongheaded Might Makes Right path we're on
The new American militarism has abandoned the Founding Fathers, deserted the Constitution, and unrestrained the executive. War is a first resort. Here a Founder turns over in his grave.
In The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, Bacevich examines the origins and implications of this misguided enterprise. He shows how American militarism emerged as a reaction to the Vietnam War, when various groups in American society—soldiers, politicians on the make, intellectuals, strategists, Christian evangelicals, even purveyors of pop culture—came to see the revival of military power and the celebration of military values as the antidote to all the ills besetting the country as a consequence of Vietnam and the 1960s. The upshot, acutely evident in the aftermath of 9/11, has been a revival of vast empire building ambitions, this time coupled with a pronounced affinity for the war. Bacevich urges Americans to restore a sense of realism and a sense of proportion to U.S. policy since the light of failures (Iraq, Afghanistan) has not penetrated the darkness of delusion. He proposes, in short, to bring American purposes and American methods—especially with regard to the role of the military—back into harmony with the nation's founding ideals. Because the current actions of the USA have the Founders turning over in their graves.
The U.S. military bullies dropping a little 'democracy' on Middle Eastern citizens
Bacevich warns: "America will surely share the fate of all those who in ages past have looked to war and military power to fulfill their destiny. We will rob future generations of their rightful inheritance. We will wreak havoc abroad. We will endanger our security at home. We will risk the forfeiture of all that we prize." Too true, except for the verb "will." We are wreaking havoc abroad and we are endangering our security at home. "Are doing it" and "has done it" are a much better fit. In his wildest dreams can he see us coming back from the 20 trillion dollar debt that is skyrocketing upwards by the second?
Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo
For this edition, Bacevich has written a new Afterword in which he considers how American militarism has changed in the past five years. He explores in particular how this ideology has functioned under Barack Obama, who ran for president on a campaign based on hope for change and for a new beginning. Despite such rhetoric, Bacevich powerfully suggests, the attitudes and arrangements giving rise to the new American militarism remain intact and inviolable as ever. And who can forget how Obama went back on his promises, turning into a merciless hawk and earning the dubious honor of being the biggest liar of all Presidents to date?
Who can forget how Obama went back on his promises, turning into a merciless hawk and earning the dubious honor of being the biggest liar of all Presidents to date?
"The United States is becoming not just a militarized state but a military society: a country where armed power is the measure of national greatness, and war, or planning for war, is the exemplary (and only) common project."--Tony Judt, The New York Review of Books
"A concise, sinewy book that looks at the emperor and concludes that indeed he has no clothes.... Bacevich makes the case calmly but with piercing clarity.... His judgments and his point of view are evenhanded and steady.... Acute and unsparing."—Andrew Day, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Bacevich's book looks at the emperor and concludes that indeed he has no clothes
The paradoxical consequences of the U.S. effort to recover from the Vietnam War are that we create Vietnams everywhere we go, as if we not only have learned nothing from that experience, or from history in general, but we feel compelled to relive it over and over, each time seeking that elusive victory, but each time failing worse than the time before. More expert at self humiliation than war winning, we seem psychotically unable to see what the rest of the world sees clearly: that we are living in the past and making fools of ourselves, draining the treasury, traumatizing a whole generation of young people, plunging ourselves into hopeless debt, wrecking the world and precipitating terroristic blowback wherever we roam in our incredibly stupid quest to make the world into our personal empire. (Bacevich proposes refocusing American strategy away from empire and towards genuine national security—which empire buillding undermines drastically.)
The paradoxical consequences of the U.S. effort to recover from Vietnam are that we create Vietnams everywhere we go—we seem to feel compelled to relive it over and over
Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, Bacevich is a retired military officer whose overall resume qualifies him to analyze this situation of overmilitarization much better than most
Bacevich, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton. And he is a retired military officer whose overall resume qualifies him to analyze this situation of overmilitarization much better than most. And he grasps and communicates the essense of our overmilitarization obsession better than most, clearly tracing how we got that way.
Bacevich falls on his face a few times
Unfortunately, he falls on his face a few times, such as when he unwisely blurts out: "American militarism is not the invention of a cabal nursing fantasies of global empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11." This was spoken like a member of the CFR (which he is) who is deflecting attention away from The Council on Foreign Relations, which all their members are wont to do. The CFR has globalists, neocons, and empire builders everywhere one looks—check some of the articles they've written. Fairly recently they revised their site and PR, doing damage control over a reputation increasingly sullied by some of their members admitting allegiance to One World Government, globalism, empire building and other concepts that mainstream media would find unpalatable. They invited speakers like Bacevich to lecture them on the U.S.'s wrongheaded hypermilitary ideals and foolish wars, which the members politely pretended to hear, but—as subsequent actions demonstrated—did not heed. In fact, they seem to be doing the opposite of what such voices of reason advised, staying instead on a strict diet of neocon delusion.
American militarism may not be the "invention of a cabal," true, but it is the only strategy neocons honor or trust. The shadow government in charge in the U.S. are without a doubt "nursing fantasies of global empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11." Evidence is easy to find, especially since their CFR members occasionally admit to just such fantasies. Just because they refrain from saying such things in Bacevich's presence is no reason for him to naively conclude they don't have such fantasies. It's surprising to see him collude with CFR damage control—apparently when he asks around in the CFR they all deny neocon fantasies to his face and he believes them, just like they pretend to listen to his speeches (but bless him for caring enough to talk to them—they need to hear what he says regardless of their anemic responses). There are a couple of dozen reviews on this website that contain the evidence he needs to round out his perspective so that he sees the rest of the picture. See The America section of our Articles page.
The author "seeks to refocus Americans' attention on how the United States has gone astray from its Founders' principles." And yet this is not just a matter of excess military adventurism. It's about all of us learning from the warnings of Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower and both FDR and Theodore Roosevelt, not pretending they never made these warnings. It's about learning from these warnings and looking past the elected leaders that pretend to be in control to the behind-the-scenes actors who are actually in control. See Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World and The Shadow Government—the latter gives us confirmation of shadow government realities from the mouthes of many Presidents, Congresspeople, Mayors, and our wisest and most respected thinkers and writers.
David Rockefeller, Sr, chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, admitted his guilt at being part of a "secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States", and that he was a "globalist" conspiring to bring one world government to the world, but Bacevich appears to not grasp the full significance of this admission and how it relates to Rockefeller's role as the CFR's Honorary Chairman, Founder and Honorary North American Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, and Bilderberg Group's only member of the Member Advisory Group. Obviously Bacevich bought into CFR damage control.
Neocons have got us tilting at windmills, chasing an elusive heroic quest but ending up finding only frustration
The rise of the neconservatives is a fact that Bacevich admits and he sees how this fits with our being overextended and tilting at windmills, chasing an elusive heroic quest but ending up finding only frustration, battle fatigue, humiliation and failure. He admits the Iraq invasion was a preposterous mistake that Bush was foolish to pursue. It turned Bacevich around about our military since it was obvious that the invasion was about oil and empire building. He cannot help being skeptical of our hypermilitarism, noting all the entities who gain power, cash or prestige from this perpetual state of emergency: defense contractors, corporations, big banks, interest groups, think tanks, universities, television networks, media—etc. He makes no bones about it—militarism has corrupted America. The country is lucky to have a fierce, smart peacemonger like Bacevich. "If change is to come, it must come from the people," argues Bacevich, insightfully, realizing that only education of the public and civic involvement can turn back these forces that are ruining the republic. See Politics and Government, The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives, Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite.
The shadow government has the power and they aren't about to shoot themselves in the foot
In her book Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market, according to Stephen M. Walt, Janine R. Wedel describes the Shadow Elite as the 'Neocon core', a tiny circle of longtime ideological allies who used their interlocking relationships across government, think tanks, business, and national borders to promote their vision of asserting American power, and firepower, to remake the Middle East, twisting arms in the Bush administration to get neocon foreign policies adopted. One has to read Dr. Wedel's book to see how this was accomplished. (Source: Neoconservatives Are Not a Cabal or Conspiracy)
Bush—never much of a thinker—bought into this worldview for several reasons: He was too lazy to think for himself, he wished to undo the wimp label of the Bush name his father had earned, and because he could see himself as an heroic born-again Crusader (the original Crusade from 1095 to 1291 A.D. was initiated by pressure from the Pope). Dubya, trying to find meaning in his shallow life of skirt chasing and military avoiding, hit on a naive and foolish quest of messianic Christian fundamentalism suffused with martial biblical certainties and goaded on by arrogant, overaggressive neocon hawks. There is little more dangerous to world peace and stability than a simpleton who knows God is on his side as he lays waste to the Middle East, becoming a legend in his own mind by fulfilling biblical prophesies.
Dubya the Crusader
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.—Sinclair Lewis, (It Can't Happen Here, 1935)
"The relationship between Christianity and war has been a tangled one. (Despite Christ's admonition to love one's neighbor and to turn the other cheek, Christians historically have slaughtered their fellow men, to include their fellow Christians, in breathtakingly large numbers)", says Bacevich, adding "Militant evangelicals imparted religious sanction to the militarization of U.S. policy and helped imbue the resulting military activism with an aura of moral legitimacy. Policy options that policymakers advocated as feasible and necessary, Christians discerned as right and good."
Bacevich says that without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would have been "inconceivable." This is surely a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on earth did far less to question this violent trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations. But then the Bible contains ample examples of violence as a solution. You know: "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle . . . " It's easy to see Muslims as foes, like Crusaders did, although their goals a millenium ago were to combat paganism and heresy as well as freeing the Holy Land from Muslim rule.
Wedel's book provides a shocking expose of those dismantling U.S. democracy from the inside. (Janine R. Wedel writes about governing, corruption, foreign aid, and influence elites through the lens of a social anthropologist. A university professor in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University, Wedel is a pioneer in applying anthropological insights to topics dominated by political scientists, economists, or sociologists. She has an internationally recognized record of innovative scholarly and empirical research, engagement with theoretical and policy debates, and inquiry into current intellectual issues.)
Rich neocon burying U.S. democracy for power, wealth, and control
Who is to say if this "Neocon core," which are named, is the actual identity of the shadow government in this country? One thing for sure: either they are it or part of it or the advisors of it or the leaders of it. Bacevich and Wedel do not believe conspiracy or cabals are necessarily involved, but then if they were the perpetrators certainly would not advertise the fact so how would one find out? But Wedel and most authors on the subject see the shadow government/neocons as nursing fantasies of global empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11, even if Bacevish for some unfathomable reason cannot grasp it.
Again, some of the wisest people anywhere are saying the USA is run by a shadow government (as is this website—the totality of evidence plus the calibre of the researcher-authors is overwhelming)—people such as Bill Moyers, Peter Dale Scott, and Noam Chomsky are saying it, and so is Tom Engelhardt, Mike Lofgren, Michael J. Glennon, James Perloff, Dr. Carroll Quigley, Joseph Plummer, Steven Hiatt, John Perkins, David Korten, Paul Craig Roberts, William Blum and David Ray Griffin, and so are countless Presidents, Vice Presidents, Mayors and Congressmen as well as the head of the FBI.
“Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”—Theodore Roosevelt
"America’s next president will inherit more than a bitterly divided nation teetering on the brink of financial catastrophe when he or she assumes office. He will also inherit a shadow government, one that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country. To be precise, however, the future president will actually inherit not one but two shadow governments. The first shadow government, referred to as COG or continuity of government, is made up of unelected individuals who have been appointed to run the government in the event of a 'catastrophe.' The second shadow government, referred to as the Deep State, is comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes right now."—John W. Whitehead (Source: The Deep State: The Unelected Shadow Government Is Here to Stay)
To say that the 'terrorist' attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were an incredible boon to the shadow government and its long running agenda would be quite the understatement
U.S. is a police state and a predatory power abroad, imposing thousands of deaths on our troops and hundreds of thousands of deaths on others, and wasting trillions of dollars of American taxpayers' money
"To say that the 'terrorist' attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were an incredible boon to the shadow government and its long running agenda would be quite the understatement. Never before in American history has this particular element been so visible and brazen than in the aftermath of 9/11, which has since become the ultimate trump card to be played against the forces of reason, judiciousness and the rule of law. The frenzied spree to dismantle the republic and reinterpret the Constitution to implement the fascist police state that would suppress the domestic populace (while implementing the business of expanding the empire abroad) has gone on unabated for over seven years now. The ascendance of the shadow government into the open began on that September morning and those events have been instrumental in allowing for every outrageous violation of civil liberties, international law and the very bedrock principle upon which civilized societies are built: habeas corpus. America is now known worldwide as a torture state, a pariah and a rogue nation to be hated and feared and it is ruled by an imperial presidency or as it was formerly known: a Unitary Executive (translation: dictator)." (Source: Main Core, PROMIS and the Shadow Government)
World Trade Center and Pentagon are attacked, but Dubya thinks reading story is more important
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.—James Madison (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President and author of the U.S. Constitution
"It may be partly a consequence of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the perceived rising external threat coming from fanatical Islamists, but it is undeniable that imperialism abroad and fascism at home are on the rise in 21st Century America. This is amazing because, along with totalitarian communism, these were precisely the two most disastrous political diseases of the 20th Century against which the United States and other democracies fought." (Source: Imperialism and Fascism are on the Rise in the USA, Rodrigue Tremblay, thirdworldtraveler.com)
The "new" idea of our Founders in 1776 was to throw off all three of these historic tyrannies [theocracy, aristocracy, feudalism] and replace them with a fourth way—people being ruled by themselves. A government that derived its legitimacy and continuing existence solely from the approval of its citizens. Government of, by, and for "We, The People." They called it a republican democracy. What we are seeing now in the neoconservative agenda is nothing less than an attempt to overthrow republican democracy and replace it with a worldwide feudal state. (Source: The Real War - On American Democracy, Thom Hartmann, thirdworldtraveler.com)
Dubya, them Obama, jumped on the Empire's throne to play God, but the shadow government pulled the strings
"But then here comes George W Bush jumping to the helm of the Empire. Not that it matters very much who is on the throne, Democrat or Republican, a guy from Texas or someone with a New England’s background. The parallel shadow government who pull the strings behind the scenes remains the same and in place." The invisible shadow government is "A parallel government, unelected and unaccountable to the people, that will not stop at anything in pursuing their hidden agendas." (Source: The Rise and Transformation of American Militarism and Imperialism after World War Two)
Many politicians, financed by large companies, tell us of the gift of democracy we give to foreign lands while in truth we're pillaging the natural resources of these poorer countries
"Many politicians, financed by large companies, tell us of the gift of democracy to foreign lands while pillaging the natural resources of these poorer countries with weak labor and environmental laws. Our government proselytizes democracy while perverting it. We in fact have a 'shadow government' that speaks a subliminal language: corporate interests masquerade as abstract ideals such as patriotism, service to our country, democracy, freedom, or a certain religious identity." (Source: Is Militarism a Disease?)
"Myths offer reassurance that America remains, as Ronald Reagan put it, 'still a land of heroes with all the courage and love of freedom that ever was before.' They enable us to sustain the belief that the soldiers whom we hire to do the nation's dirty work but whom we do not know are, in fact, bringing peace and light to troubled corners of the earth rather than pushing ever outward the perimeter of an American empire," says Bacevich. See Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, and A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption.
The American myth is that we're a land of brave heroes bringing peace and democracy everywhere
Bacevich warns us that the greatest threat to the U.S. is not terrorists but the core neoconservative belief which Dubya agrees with wholehearedly. This belief is that American security and well-being is dependent on U.S. global hegemony and pushing our U.S. values on the rest of the world (whether they like it or not, but it's for their own good—right?). See The Neoconserative Threat to World Order: America's Perilous War for Hegemony.
Evangelicals—and Dubya—think that America is God's instrument for bringing history to its predetermined destination which is described in the Bible and some call it the Rapture, although the Bible does not. Nation will rise against nation and there'll be war, and lots of anti-Christs will assume power, and there will be famines and earthquakes. "We will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." The elect are those who were saved through faith—they'll have eternal life. Non-believers on the earth at the time will be left behind. Believers will suddenly, without warning, disappear from Earth in the "twinkling of an eye." Beam me up, Scotty!
The Son of Man will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds—or so the Bible says
Evangelicals are the folks that pushed Reagan into power after he met with them and told them how much he believed in them. (Reagan was a calculating political success—the opposite of Carter. Carter told the people the truth but they couldn't handle it, but Reagan told us we could have it all without the draft and without sacrifice. [This turned out to be hogwash—we've been sacrificing ever since, although we keep passing the bulk of the economic burden on to the next generation, which is cowardly. The cultural, ethical and moral sacrifices were the immediate but unspoken debts this snake-oil salesman foisted upon us.] Reagan had the world's best P.R. team, while Carter probably thought P.R. meant peace rally.)
Reagan had the world's best P.R. team, and this snake-oil salesman foisted upon us the belief that we could have it all without the draft and without sacrifice: 'get out there and buy buy buy!'
Evangelicals are the ones that supported his Contra aid no matter how many crimes against humanity they committed. They support all American and Israeli wars which are right by virtue of the fact that America is conducting them and America and Israel are God's chosen people and hegemony is our right so that we can better spread Christianity and keep those godless Muslims out of Israel—or so they believe. They are one of the main reasons for America's love affair with military force, along with neoconservatism. This latter is the philosophy that oligarchs of the shadow government knew would fatten their bank accounts quickest and most bountifully, so it is the one whose ideas got pushed onto elected leaders.
Neoconservatism is the philosophy that oligarchs of the shadow government knew would fatten their bank accounts quickest and most bountifully, so it is the one whose ideas got pushed onto elected leaders
- Restore the basic precepts of the Constitution.
- Revitalize the concept of separation of powers.
- View force as a last resort.
- Enhance U.S. strategic self-sufficiency.
- Organize U.S. forces explicitly for national defense.
- Devise an appropriate gauge for determining the level of U.S. defense spending. Instead of basing it on a percentage of gross domestic product, it should be determined by what others spend.
- Enhance alternative instruments of statecraft.
- Revive the moribund concept of the citizen-soldier.
- The role of the National Guard and the reserve components need to be re-examined, which means a return “to their original purpose — a trained militia kept in readiness as the primary instrument for community self-defense. Of course, community in this context refers not to Kosovo and Iraq but to Kansas and Iowa.”
- Reconcile the American military profession to American society.