Michael Winship starts his article on Andrew Bacevich, and his latest book, “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism,” with this quote from a Swedish statesmen of 1648: “Know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.” I’ve been very impressed with Bacevich since I picked up his “New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, a year ago, and stop to read whatever he puts into the public presses. He was on Bill Moyers Journal the other day.
“Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington, DC, but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we the people want,” he told Moyers. “And what we want, by and large is … this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods. We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the books are balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year.”
To that end, he says, “One of the ways we avoid confronting our refusal to balance the books is to rely increasingly on the projection of American military power around the world to try to maintain this dysfunctional system or set of arrangements that have evolved over the last 30 or 40 years.”
“… I think historians a hundred years from now will puzzle over how it could be that the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the world, as far back as the early 1970’s came to recognize that dependence on foreign oil was a problem, posed a threat, compromised our freedom of action. How every president from Richard Nixon down … declared, ‘We’re going to fix the problem.’ [But] none of them did.”
He continued, “The clearest statement of what I value is found in the Preamble to the Constitution. There is nothing in the Preamble to the Constitution which defines the purpose of the United States of America as remaking the world in our image, which I view as a fool’s errand. I believe that the framers of the Constitution were primarily concerned with focusing on the way we live here, the way we order our affairs. To try to ensure that as individuals, we can have an opportunity to pursue our, perhaps, differing definitions of freedom, but also so that, as a community, we could live together in some kind of harmony. And that future generations would also be able to share in those same opportunities…. With the current crisis in American foreign policy, unless we do change our ways, the likelihood that our children, our grandchildren, the next generation will enjoy the opportunities that we’ve had is very slight because we’re squandering our power. We are squandering our wealth.”
1 Comment »
Leave a comment
Comment Guidlines: This space is for commenting on the post above, the ideas, the context,the author. Your ideas, strong but civil, are appreciated. Long cuts and pastes from elsewhere are not. This is NOT the place to create your own private BLOG. Links to other articles are fine, if appropriate. Line and paragraph breaks are automatic; e-mail address are never displayed.
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>