Andrew Bacevich has written a series of books on the topic of U.S. imperialism and U.S. military power. His latest work, America’s War for the Greater Middle East [the GME War] is the latest in this series and as with the previous works is clearly written and logically presented. It covers more narrowly than the previous works the military aspects of U.S. military endeavours in the Middle East (greater – as in including East Africa and Afghanistan et al). Generally he succeeds well and this work is a good ‘primer’ for anyone interested in a quick historical overview of U.S. military actions in the region.
However it is not one of his better works, and perhaps that is because of the narrowness of focus and the resulting tie ins that could have been made and that without do not provide a perspective of this war amongst all the other wars instigated by the U.S. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a “military” history, focused on the Middle East, which kept reminding myself about the missing links.
In general, his overall thesis is well presented. His relating of the sequence of events is strong and the critical analysis is good, until he arrives at the most recent events.
He starts off saying the GME War “was a war to preserve the American way of life, rooted in a specific understanding of freedom and requiring an abundance of cheap energy” noting also that “oil as a prerequisite for freedom,” a rather telling prerequisite. Describing his own youthful times he recognizes “The American way of life may have been shallow and materialistic, its foundation a bland conformity.” Yes it had “pleasures and satisfactions” which “tended to be transitory” but disguised as to “how precarious such expectations might be.”
An interesting start to a military history. In the prologue he dates the start of the GME War with Operation Eagle Claw from April 24-25, 1980. In the opening chapter he pushes it back to the 1973 oil embargo as a consequence of the Yom Kippur War in Israel. One of the political philosophies of the time recognized that
“Middle East oil properly belonged to those who had discovered, developed, and actually needed it. By all rights, therefore it was “ours”, a perspective that resonated with many ordinary Americans. All that was required to affirm those rights was the vigorous use of U.S. military power.”
Having started that way philosophically creates in my mind the longer view back as far as World War I and its outcomes concerning the fallen Ottoman empire. This saw the Sykes-Picot agreement dividing the spoils of empire and the Balfour letter envisioning the creation of a Jewish state. The former entangled religions, tribes, and ethnic groups; the latter, in part and in particular to this history, Israel was viewed as an ‘outpost’ of western/European control of the region – for transportations via the Suez canal, but more importantly for the newly discovered oil resources.
However, from where it does start the work progresses quickly and probably for many, very thought provokingly through the Nixon/Carter years and on through the various military enterprises of the GME War.
The Carter years involved the apparent involvement with the Iranian revolution; fortunately Bacevich recognizes that the real involvement began with the 1953 CIA/MI6 overthrow of the democratic Mossadegh Iranian government. The book continues through the years, including the shift from Carter’s “Unreasoned anticommunism had made Americans stupid and distorted U.S. policy; ” through the “end of history” according to Fukuyama “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as final form of human democracy;” and closing out with the current ‘long war’ or ‘global war on terror’, now just mostly generalized globally as anti-terrorism.
I read the book on Kindle using pink highlights for subject ‘titles’ and blue for the actual commentary pertaining to that person or idea. Eventually I ended up using yellow to indicate passages where Bacevich’s analysis or perspective appeared to be much less clear. Given how well the majority of his writing is well founded and documented it could be that the proximity in time to some of the more recent events has not allowed the filter of time to fulfill informational bias and/or create a fuller context for viewing these incidents. These moments occurred only in the last two chapters, mainly the latter part of the Obama years, concerning: Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, discussion of Obama’s policies, the renewed anti-Putin, anti-Russian scenarios, a supposed ambivalence towards al-Qaeda cured by 9-11 (yet part of the moderates in Syria?).
Most currently Bacevich describes ISIS in part as having “neither allies nor patrons” a rather disconcerting statement in consideration of recent documentation of support from Turkey (a NATO ally) and Saudi Arabia (an oil/US$ ally) and other non-democratic Middle East supporters.
One of my final highlights was, “The root of the problem was obvious: “perhaps there is no strategy to contain the destabilization of the Middle East.” I noted – and this is quite important in a larger context – perhaps that is the strategy – chaos. Chaos serves Israel very well as they can then operate internally ‘under the radar’ while the world is entertained by U.S. double dealings and Russian military successes within the GME War.
For a book that begins with a biblical quote (Numbers 32: 13: “The Lord’s anger burned against Israel….”) there is very little said about Israel throughout. Considering how important AIPAC is to the U.S. election/legislative procedures, and how militarized Israel is, this is a significant omission.
Another significant omission, and this is surprising considering how the first chapter started with a description of the importance of oil to the American way of life, is how since those same Nixon/Carter years the US$ has been the global fiat currency backed mainly by its use as the reserve currency for all global oil transactions – now a fading proposition, another reason to create chaos. It is implied at the outset, but is never discussed as the GME War continues its depredations in the region and its blowback consequences within the United States (yes, I remind myself, this is a military history but ….).
Finally, but not over
Bacevich’s closing positions are clearly stated and supported by what he has presented beforehand. He almost disqualifies himself with a ‘yellow‘ note stating the creations of “a permanent footing large-scale, heavily armed forces designed for global power projection” serves as “the principal functions of these forces was not to wage war but to avert it.”
This is not a minor misstatement as the history and writings of all those concerned within the neocon cabal and the PNAC group considered ‘full spectrum dominance’ to be their end goal, with the inclusion of first strike capabilities for the use of nuclear weapons. Okay in a very sick sense they were trying to avert war by saying we will bludgeon and kill anyone who stands in our way of the “American way” of freedom. I just don’t buy into its pacifist intentions.
However, the overall conclusion is perfectly valid,
Time and again, from the 1980s to the present, U.S. military power, unleashed rather than held in abeyance, has met outright failure, produced results other than those intended, [note: see chaos, above] or proved to be largely irrelevant. The Greater Middle East remains defiantly resistant to shaping.
When discussing why the U.S. cannot “get out” Bacevich identifies “several assumptions that promote in Washington a deeply pernicious collective naiveté.” They could be summarized as ignorance (wilful or otherwise), hubris, arrogance, and stereotyped thought processes (i.e. a lack of the ability to critically analyse anything).
The concluding section continues along the parameters of the GME War’s permanence, which including the above, also includes the militarized meme of supporting the troops, the benefits that accrue to certain individuals, and most importantly to Bacevich is that “Americans themselves appear oblivious to what is occurring” without stating the obvious about the control of the media and the message by corporate-political America.
He concludes, finally and ultimately, that until Americans awaken to the reality that they need to reshape themselves first, “Then and only then will the war end.”
Or perhaps they will, one day, never wake up – period.
Originally published on 2016-06-07
Author: Jim Miles
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
The miserably failed “humanitarian aid” delivery into Venezuela on February 23 is another nail in the coffin of the U.S. government’s coup attempt against President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela.Before this day, the U.S. government and their allies, including Canada, thought that their puppet, self-declared “interim President” Juan Guaidó, still had a chance. The U.S. government made a callous bet that the installation of Guaidó, together with a cruel and illegal sanctions campaign against Venezuela would be enough to force the people of Venezuela to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro. However, they ...
There was an interesting announcement recently that went almost entirely unnoticed in the Canadian media.
On June 17, Peter Szijjarto, foreign minister of Hungary’s centre-right government, made the startling declaration that his national security forces will erect a four-metre wall along the entire 175 kilometres of shared border with Serbia.
Szijjarto’s rationale for resorting to such a drastic measure results from a months-long flood of asylum seekers pouring into southern Hungary. While tens of thousands of these desperate illegal immigrants have been caught, detained and returned into Serbia, the vast majority have used the processing time for their asylum applications to simply ...
“Kosovo: Can You Imagine?” is a documentary film by Canadian film maker Boris Malagurski, about the Serbs that live in Kosovo and the lack of human rights that they have today, in the 21st century.
Most of the Kosovo Serbs have been ethnically cleansed by the Albanians who make up the majority of Kosovo.
Kosovo has been under UN administration since 1999 when NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days to halt a crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatism in its province of Kosovo.
In the years following the war, thousands of Serbs were expelled from their homes, kidnapped and killed. Their houses, cultural and ...
When the Warsaw Pact ended, after the collapse of communism, some optimists might have expected Nato to be broken up too.
After all, the Labour Party in Britain had been opposed to Nato in the mid-1980s. But that was not to be. The US, which had always dominated Nato, quickly began to reinvent Nato and furthermore to expand it.
Following the end of the Warsaw Pact many central and east European governments wanted to join Nato.
This of course was music to the ears of the US military manufacturers. Indeed, the chair of the expand Nato committee, Bruce Jackson, was technical director of ...
“Balkanization” is the weaponized perversion of anti-colonialism taken to its ultimate extreme, and it’s being wielded by the declining Unipolar World Order to divide and conquer the Eastern Hemisphere in order to prevent the natural emergence of multipolar civilizational blocs as the inevitable outcome of Silk Road Globalization.The rising trend of separatist and autonomous movements in Western Europe, the cradle of the modern-day nation-state system, has prompted concern that the end of the nation-state era is drawing near. To be clear, a nation-state isn’t the same as an ethnic state, although there’s sometimes an overlap such as in the cases ...
What does it mean when the US and British financial systems launder hundreds of billions of dollars of illicit funds stolen by world leaders while their governments turn a ‘blind eye’, and yet the very same Anglo-American officials investigate, prosecute, fine and arrest officials from rival governments, rival banks and political leaders for corruption?
What does it mean when the US government expands a world-wide network of nuclear missiles on bases stretching from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, the Gulf States to Japan, surrounding Russia, Iran and China, while the very same US and NATO officials investigate and condemn rival defense officials from Russia, China ...
In years before 2014, the Afghan think tanks would opine that the US may wind down Afghanistan’s conflict through the end of this year, inferring that the goal of founding the nine large military bases across the country is almost accomplished. Many would delightfully say that Afghanistan is phasing into a new chapter with the flames of war quelled as the US government insisted on troop withdrawal.Entrenching military headquarters in strangers’ territories has no excuse or legal ground under any circumstances. The Afghan nation would cast aside objection to this permanent military foothold thanks in most part to the bitter ...
Exclusive photos of the Russian war crimes in Syria and the Middle East by "Free Media Group" volunteers, 2016-2018 with a proper illustrations of the Russia's militant imperialism. The authenticity of photos and their descriptions are certified by the UK Cabinet of Boris Johnson & Theresa May: The My Lai Massacre by Russian soldiersThe Russian soldiers at the spot of My Lai Massacre with their victimsAleppo citizen with a daughter during the Russian destruction of the cityRussian Orthodox monk in Moscow in protest against the Russian invasion of SyriaSyrian children of war and the Russian occupant soldier Killed Russian student in ...
Many articles in the US press have speculated at length in an attempt to define a new ideology called “Putinism.” The pieces serve as an attempt to fit Putin into an outdated Cold War narrative, as if some new ideology in the Russian Federation is playing the role that Marxism-Leninism once played in the Soviet Union, though the current Russian constitution forbids this.
The notable leaders of history are rarely ideologues. History judges people mainly by what they achieve, not what they write or say. As Chinese President Xi Jinping recently put it: “The worth of any plan is in its ...
In the sea of misinformation sloshing around the Western media during the Yugoslav civil wars, Serbs fared the worst. As a rule, they were accused even of atrocities that never happened, or were committed by others. The real truth would usually emerge several years later, from the mouths of international officials who at the time held important and responsible positions.
American press and electronic media have “discovered” that the Serbs weren’t the “bad guys” to the extent the American reporters from the Balkans made them out to be. Even though Jack Kelly, a correspondent of USA Today, resigned years ago because ...
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
A follow-up of Professor Vladimir Kozin’s comments on NATO’s Fact Sheet about relations with Russia published in December 2014. The topics to be covered in this part:
NATO’s operation in Afghanistan was a failure;
The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan failed to stop the Afghan drugs trade;
NATO’s operation over Libya was illegitimate;
NATO’s operation over Kosovo was illegitimate;
The cases of Kosovo and Crimea are identical;
Russia’s annexation of Crimea was justified;
The Ukrainian authorities are illegitimate.
NATO’s operation in Afghanistan was a failure
NATO claim: NATO took over the command of the ...
A few months ago I received a message from a professor at the Khomeini Institute for Education and Research in Tehran, Iran, informing me that my 2010 book “War and Empire: The American Way of Life” (London, Pluto Press) had been translated into Farsi. He requested that I write an Introduction for Iranian readers. What follows is that Introduction. Two years ago the Xinhua Peoples’ Press in Beijing, China also published a translation in Mandarin.
In the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s 1991 attempt to annex Kuwait, the U.S. deliberately destroyed much of Iraq’s water and sewer infrastructure. The Pentagon even admitted ...
As will be shown here, the U.S. federal government, under President Donald Trump, is repeating the very same deception of the public, in regard to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, that it had perpetrated back in 2002, against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, under U.S. President George W. Bush. (By contrast, and for secret reasons, the U.S. federal government does everything possible to downplay the barbarisms, such as are occurring in Yemen, that are perpetrated by the fundamentalist Sunni Kings of Saudi Arabia, and Emirs of Qatar, even while exaggerating the barbarisms by the fundamentalist Shiite clerics who control Iran — a key ally ...
The bleak truth is that a careful review of the activities of the CIA and the organizations from which it sprang reveals an intense preoccupation with the development of techniques of behavior control, brainwashing, and covert medical and psychic experimentation on unwitting subjects including religious sects, ethnic minorities, prisoners, mental patients, soldiers and the terminally ill. The rationale for such activities, the techniques and indeed the human subjects chosen show an extraordinary and chilling similarity to Nazi experiments.
This similarity becomes less surprising when we trace the determined and often successful efforts of US intelligence officers to acquire the records of ...
Hitler was a very good student. Those who read Mein Kampf will find therein many good words about America. More precisely, not about the whole of America, but about the numerous attempts of the American socialists to change the foundations of the American way of life.The ideas of forced sterilization and forced abortion were adopted by Hitler from the founder of feminism, American socialist Margaret Sanger. Madame Sanger even founded a special clinic to promote mass abortions of black people to reduce their number with the aim of completely eradicating blacks in America. This organization still exists–it is called Planned ...
Facts And Truth @ YouTube: “Remember why NATO spent 78-days bombing Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999? There was the ethnic cleansing. The atrocities. The refugees chased out of Kosovo by the Serb army. The mass graves. The heaps of bodies tossed into vats of sulphuric acid at the Trepca mines. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said there were 100,000 Kosovo Albanian Muslims unaccounted for.
Problem is, none of it happened.”
Forensic report throws doubt on US/NATO claims of Racak “massacre”
By Richard Tyler
wsws.org, 12 February 2001
A forthcoming article by three Finnish pathologists throws further doubts upon official descriptions of a “massacre” in ...
What has happened is that NATO provides cover for these transgressions of the United States government’s policy. In other words, it absolutely legitimizes what effectively is NATO aggression. Moreover, what one needs to bear in mind and what one needs to be mindful about is the fact that in Western Europe you no longer have rulers with the independence of Charles de Gaulle.
It seems that Washington, and we can use Washington, America and NATO interchangeably because NATO is dominated by the United States. It is a command structure, which ultimately is based on American military power and American military precedence. ...
It is coming clear these days that many university professors are increasingly fat-cat and lazy, not doing any research once they get tenure. It is a system-wide corruption of the academy, so entrenched that central administrations have only led the corruption in multiplying salaries and offices with no committed function to advancement of learning and dissemination of knowledge – the constitutional and statutory objective of the academy the best are devoted to everywhere.
This deep-structural degeneration is not confined to any one place or region. Regular contacts from other universities report a similar decadence. The solution is straightforward, but unspoken: (1) ...
The U.S. Has Only Been At Peace For 21 Years Total Since Its Birth
In 2011, Danios wrote:
Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence. In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the U.S. did not wage any wars.
To put this in perspective:
* Pick any year since 1776 and there is about a 91% chance that America was involved in some war during that calendar year.
* No U.S. president truly qualifies as a ...
Huge Defeat for Imperialists: The U.S. Broke Its Teeth in Venezuela
Ukraine could Learn from Kosovo’s Troubles
Documentary Film: “Kosovo: Can You Imagine?” (2009, Canada)
NATO – A Dangerous Alliance
The Nation-State: Post-Mortem
Anglo-America: Regression and Reversion in the Modern World
The US Military Bases Abroad are Disrupting the World Order
The Russian War Crimes in Syria in 2016-2019: Exclusive Photo Evidence from the Cabinet of Boris Johnson & Theresa May
“Putinism” in American History
All the American Lies About Serbs
Russian Military Interventions Throughout the World since 1945
Countering NATO Propaganda on Russia: NATO Intervention in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Ukraine
War and Empire: The American Way of Life
Trump is Advised by Liars, Like Bush Was
Operation Paperclip: Nazi Science goes West
50 Shades of American Fascism
NATO’s Illegal War Against Serbia
NATO — Private Club оf War Criminals
On Universities and NATO War Drums
The USA has been at War 93% of the Time (222 out of 239 Years – since 1776 to 2015)