“The scope of our failure”: The real story of our decades-long foreign policy disaster that set the Middle East on fire

“The scope of our failure”: The real story of our decades-long foreign policy disaster that set the Middle East on fire

The brilliant Andrew Bacevich tells Salon why our massive march to folly in Middle East has to be seen as one war

I first interviewed Andrew Bacevich, the soldier turned scholar, after he spoke at the Hope Club, an old-line gents’ establishment in Providence, Rhode Island. That evening he outlined a dozen or so “theses,” as he called them in honor of the 95 Luther is said to have nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517. He was in essence reading a rough outline of the manuscript then on his desk. It was a powerful presentation, and we met again in a Boston restaurant to talk shortly thereafter. This was roughly a year ago.

The book Bacevich was drafting, “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History,” is now out. And as impressive as his synopsis of its themes was last year, the “dissident colonel,” as I like to call him, did not do this account anything close to justice. It is the first book to explain the Middle Eastern wars we have lived with for 36 years now as one unbroken conflict with many theaters. And it is scholarship of the best kind—carefully researched and referenced, but written with unscholarly grace—to put the point bluntly—and perfectly accessible to the intelligent general reader. You put it down thinking, “I understand a great deal more than I did when I started reading this.”

I drove to Boston last month to interview Bacevich again. When I arrived he was delivering a lecture to a gathering of faculty and students at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is emeritus now at Boston University but plainly still firing on all eight. This will not be his last book, he hinted, but it may be his last on the topics he has addressed in his others to date. These include “American Empire” (2002) “The New American Militarism (2005), “The Limits of Power (2008) and “Washington Rules” (2010).

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