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Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (American Empire Project) Paperback – March 29, 2011
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"Tough-minded, bracing, and intelligent... the country is lucky to have a fierce, smart peacemonger like Bacevich." (The New York Times Book Review)"
About the Author
Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He is the author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism and The New American Militarism. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University prior to joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998. He is the recipient of a Lannan Award and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
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Each chapter in Bacevich’ story unfolds in its own way, but leads to the same ending. For all the wreckage America’s missteps may have caused, the hubris of our foreign policy elite always springs back to life.
Implicit in Bacevich’s book is an acknowledgment that America has absorbed all too well the imperial outlook of the British Empire and its clubby spirit of limitless entitlement.
But his focus on the twists and turns of military doctrine in a wholly American setting misses something important. Yes, we have lived for five centuries in a world of imperial European invasions, but we also live for a very long time in a world of anti-imperial resistance movements. What has been missing from the thinking of our foreign policy elites – an awareness of the dynamic between empire and resistance – is also missing from Washington Rules. While Bacevich recounts the Washington perspective in great detail; he never examines the world's resistance leaders to see if there’s something to be learned from those who dislike empire and prefer resistance.
And there’s a second blind spot in the Bacevich analysis – a lack of attention to soft power. The film "Charlie Wilson’s War" ends with a lament about America’s failure to use soft power in Afghanistan when it might still have made a difference. It's a chronic problem. America’s policy elites have little interest in whether soft power might be the smarter choice; alas, Bacevich neglects this theme as well.