Andrew Bacevich discusses the ‘Greater Middle East’

By Scott Calzolaio


A small crowd gathered in DPAC on Wednesday night to listen as writer and political scientist Andrew Bacevich lectured on what he referred to as his “nine theses” on the current “war for the Greater Middle East.”


Bacevich published his most recent book, “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country,” in 2013. Bacevich is the author of seven books in total and two newspaper articles published in the Boston Globe. He was also recently featured on the popular political comedy talk show “The Colbert Report,” where he talked about the book, which he had on sale at his lecture.


Bacevich’s areas of expertise cover a wide range of political topics, including American diplomatic and military history, international relations, American foreign policy and security studies.


Bacevich started his career as an officer in 1969 for the Armor Branch of the United States Army and retired at the rank of colonel in the early 1990’s. From there he obtained a Ph.D. in American diplomatic history and began to teach at West Point and Johns Hopkins before joining the Boston University faculty in 1998, where he now teaches international relations and history.


He began with a brief introduction and background on the war in the Middle East to the present day.


“That war, dating back from 1980,” he said, “continues now to the present day with no end in sight.”


Bacevich argues that Americans don’t exactly see the current war as a war at all, but rather an almost unrelated series of overseas conflicts.


“If you look closely enough,” said Bacevich, “the dots do connect. My purpose this evening is to take stock of that war.”


He then compared the seemingly disconnected events in the Middle East to major events in World War II that seemed just as disjoined at the time.


His first three theses questioned the topics of the difficulties of fighting in an urban terrain, the changed nature of warfare due to technological advances and the lack of strategy in the war. In regard to the lack of strategy, he mentioned that “such innovations as ‘judicial killing,’ ‘extraordinary rendition,’ ‘enhanced interrogation,’” he said, “are all euphemisms that have emerged over the past six or eight years to cover up the fact that there really is no strategy.”


In his next three theses, Bacevich first criticized the “national service apparatus,” or the large group of political organizations based out of the Department of Defense that came to fruition after World War II. He then touched upon generalship and the corrupt connotations that being declared a “savior general” is a “dangerous illusion,” and the notion of a “fortified army” and a criticism on an all-volunteer-based army.


His last three theses focused on the history of American invasions in other countries, the relationship the United States has with Israel and the impossible mission: separation of church and state.


In a 30-minute Q-and-A after his lecture, Bacevich covered a range of topics including America’s use of mercenaries, healthcare reform, Civil War misconceptions, the misuse of the word terrorism, the impossibility of true separation between church and state and his own proposal for creating a national service program.

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