Andrew Bacevich: Spat between him and HNN blogger turns negative

Historians in the News

On 15 August, Andrew Bacevich appeared on Bill Moyers' Journal to discuss his book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, and three interlocking crises that the United States faces. On 19 August, our colleague, Chris Bray, raised questions about Bacevich's position in a post,"A Deceptively Pristine History," here at Cliopatria. I invited Professor Bacevich to respond to Chris's criticism and he sends the following note:
1. No need to worry about my failing to understand the narrative of American expansionism. Please see my new book"The Limits of American Power," especially Chapter 1. In interpreting a text, Chris might want to stick to the text. I said that Americans of an earlier era were puzzled over why Brits would engage in misadventures in obscure places like Afghanistan. I said precisely what I meant.

2. As for soldiers' lobbies. AUSA and similar organizations represent institutions -- their purpose is to advance institutional interests. Although their efforts are frequently pernicious, they are part of the way Washington works. AUSA does not represent the interests of"soldiers." The lobby that I wrote about in The Atlantic does not purport to represent institutional interests. It represents the views of individual soldiers who oppose U. S. foreign policy and who are engaging in political action to change that policy. These efforts are contrary to good order and discipline and could potentially threaten civilian control. I view that as deeply problematic. I am sorry that Chris is unable to perceive any distinction between the one type of organization and the other.

3. As for Chris's comment:"I don't know Andrew Bacevich, but my guess is that his view of American military history is shaped by his professional background" as" career soldier and West Point grad [who] may have absorbed a history that was meant to teach him the boundaries of his profession." No, he doesn't know me and his speculation is presumptuous, patronizing, and insulting.

Related Links

  • Chris Bray: A Deceptively Pristine History, Part Two
  • Read entire article at Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria

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