Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

Front Cover
Henry Holt and Company, Aug 3, 2010 - Political Science - 304 pages
5 Reviews

The bestselling author of The Limits of Power critically examines the Washington consensus on national security and why it must change

For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America's military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.

In Washington Rules, a vivid, incisive analysis, Andrew J. Bacevich succinctly presents the origins of this consensus, forged at a moment when American power was at its height. He exposes the preconceptions, biases, and habits that underlie our pervasive faith in military might, especially the notion that overwhelming superiority will oblige others to accommodate America's needs and desires—whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods. And he challenges the usefulness of our militarism as it has become both unaffordable and increasingly dangerous.

Though our politicians deny it, American global might is faltering. This is the moment, Bacevich argues, to reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world—to acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. Replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America's future, and may yet offer the key to the country's salvation.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bke - LibraryThing

Written by a retired colonel, he challenges the "Washing Rules" the rules under which our foreign and military policy has been based for almost a century. That is, that the world must be organized in ... Read full review

WASHINGTON RULES: America's Path to Permanent War

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Retired Army colonel Council of Foreign Relations member Bacevich (History and International Relations/Boston Univ.; The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, 2008, etc.) discards long ... Read full review


Slow Learner
1 The Advent of Semiwar
2 Illusions of Flexibility and Control
3 The Credo Restored
4 Reconstituting the Trinity
5 Counterfeit COIN
6 Cultivating Our Own Garden
About the Author
The American Empire Project

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

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.

Bibliographic information