The other night I overheard someone recommending the online journal Guernica, so I checked it out. Imagine my pleasure in seeing there an interview with Andrew Bacevich, whose most recent book, Washington Rules, I’ve written about here.
This passage, in particular, excited me:
”Anybody who questions [the United States'] militarized approach to global leadership is immediately labeled an isolationist—as if there were no alternatives between global militarism and pulling up the drawbridges and turning inward. There are all kinds of alternatives. Where we the people have fallen down—and where the media have fallen down and where the people who write books have fallen down—is in failing to articulate those alternatives so that the national security debate could be richer. Because there really is no national security debate.”
This strikes at the heart of my inquiry. Especially, “Where we the people have fallen down….” My whole point in starting this blog was to move beyond feeling uneasy about American militarism overseas to explore, as one of “the people”, other ways of being. By doing this publicly, I hoped to inspire others to share their ideas as well.
Toward this end, I tried to infer from the interview how Bacevich would articulate an alternative approach. It would
- focus resources where they count (on the Pacific theater, for example, instead of Afghanistan)
- occasionally look to non-military interventions to increase stability (he suggests Mexican political instability is a bigger threat–which clearly cannot be solved militarily)
- find savings where they can logically be found (Europe no longer needs so large a military presence to ensure the peace there), and
- rely on people who are familiar with a region, its people, traditions, etc., to plan foreign policy. (Someone like Juan Cole should have been involved in planning Middle East policy, instead of Douglas Feith and his ilk).
These are all things I can get behind. Still, I’d appreciate having a simple conceptual formula or principle (under which such tactics would fall) that could displace the current idea, which as I understand it is something like this: America’s military makes the world safe for democracy.