As we’re being drawn yet again into the mess created by the Bush administration’s disastrous war of choice in Iraq, here are some interesting and very pertinent comments from Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich on the immoral nature of “preventive” war.
BILL MOYERS: What is it about how we go to war? We poured blood and treasure into Vietnam and Iraq and wound up with exactly the opposite consequences than we wanted. And we keep repeating, hearing the same arguments and claims that we should do it again.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, war itself is evil. But war is an evil that should command our respect. War is something that we should not take lightly, that we should not discuss frivolously. And I think that that’s one of the great failings of our foreign policy establishment, that our foreign policy establishment does not take war seriously.
It assumes that the creation of precision guided weapons makes war manageable, removes from war the element of risk and chance that are always inherent in warfare. So these are people who, quite frankly, most of them don’t know much about war. And therefore who discuss war in frivolous ways.
BILL MOYERS: And yet, there’s this still almost religious belief in force as the savior.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think your use of religious terms is very appropriate here. Because there is a theological — quasi theological dimension to their thinking related, again, to this notion that we are called. We are chosen. We are the instrument of providence. Summoned to transform the world, and therefore empowered to use force in ways not permitted to any others. I mean, the ultimate travesty of the immediate period after 9/11 was the Bush administration’s embrace of preventive war that became then the rationale for invading Iraq in 2003. But it was a general claim — a general claim that the United States was empowered to use force preventively.
This is the kind of person who should be on the Sunday talk shows instead of McCain and Cheney and those windbags.
Another clip from this interview:
BACEVICH: We have been engaged in the Islamic world at least since 1980, in a military project based on the assumption that the adroit use of American hard power can somehow pacify or fix this part of the world. We can now examine more than three decades of this effort.
Let’s look at what U.S. military intervention in Iraq has achieved, in Afghanistan has achieved, in Somalia has achieved, in Lebanon has achieved, in Libya has achieved. I mean, ask ourselves the very simple question. Is the region becoming more stable? Is it becoming more democratic?
Are we alleviating, reducing the prevalence of anti-Americanism? I mean, if the answer is yes, then let’s keep trying. But if the answer to those questions is no, then maybe it’s time for us to recognize that this larger military project is failing and is not going to succeed simply by trying harder.
The events that are unfolding in Iraq at this very moment promote a debate within Washington revolving around the question, “What should we do about Iraq?” But there is a larger and more important question. And the larger and more important question has to do with the region as a whole. And the actual consequences of U.S. military action over the past 30 years.