Andrew Bacevich: Historian discusses Iraq War, criticizes Bush administration

Historians in the News

Although the war in Iraq can be characterized as turbulent and controversial, the American publics interest in U.S. foreign policy is increasing.

Guest lecturer and military historian Andrew J. Bacevich spoke Wednesday night in

the Indiana Memorial Union about U.S. foreign policy and Iraq to a packed room of students, faculty, staff and Bloomington residents.

Bacevich said his underlying theme was not “what do we do about Iraq ... but how are we as a nation to deal with the consequences of Iraq?”

Bacevich stressed failures of President Bush’s Freedom Agenda by refuting three broad assumptions laid out by the agenda: the belief that American military power is unlimited in its range of action and size, Iraq is an impressionable region in the Middle East and the overwhelming confidence of the Bush administration that democracy is the answer to all troubles in the Middle East.

“We are in a season of cynicism,” Bacevich said of President Bush’s Freedom Agenda.

By drawing references from the previous world wars, the Cold War and Vietnam, Bacevich defended his claim that liberal democracy will not save the Arab world. He acknowledged that although there have been instances when free and fair elections have taken place in the Middle East, corruption and illegitimacy have ultimately plagued these elections.

As a foreign policy and military scholar, Bacevich outlined his interpretation for proper U.S. strategy. He underscored the importance of the U.S. to stay realistic, moderate and prudent in military strategies and foreign policy.

Bacevich said the United States should “encourage justice, tolerance, respect” and demonstrate these themes in our society, not force them on other countries.

He also advocated a return to the just war theory, a philosophically rooted principle that is the basis of international law today. The just war theory highlights the role morality plays in waging war and encourages leaders to carefully question when war is morally justifiable.

“Force should be preserved as a last resort,” Bacevich said. ...
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