Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
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.
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Well written, intriguing and convincing. A good read.
The title simultaneously refers to the beltway, namesake, possible result, and the name of the national security consensus since WWII which is no longer as effective. The sacred trinity now holds that the US needs global presence, power projections and interventionism. The inability to distinguish institutional well-being from that of the nation has led to the present conditions. This affected historical figures such as Allen Dulles, Curtis LeMay and Maxwell Taylor. The author takes issue with the way things have turned out for the US. The arguments are nonpartisan. The return to counterinsurgency demonstrates an abandonment of victory as an objective. The US could revert to the tradition of military for defense and Just War. Americans would see soldiers stationed in the country as citizen-protectors. This frees up resources to restore the economy.