A former senior US military officer whose tours of duty included Vietnam and Europe, for those who have been listening, Bacevich has for years presented sharper, more cogent insights into America's place in the geopolitical firmament than most of the pundits we see trotted out on CNN, ABC and FOX News. For evidence of this read any of his books, which include Washington Rules: America's Pathway to Permanent War and Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and their Country, to name two.[tag]
What makes Bacevich's insights even more compelling and indeed poignant, well after he described the Iraq debacle as a "catastrophic failure" (and well before others were prepared to do so), his own son, a US army officer, was killed in 2007 by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq. Although it's not known how Bacevich felt about his son's death given his own military background and the circumstances of the tragedy, it is hard to see how he would have viewed it as anything but a futile sacrifice, as with so many other young Americans.
Bacevich of course is far from alone in critiquing his country's foreign policy misadventures. In his 2004 book of essays, Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope, the late Chalmers Johnson also provided in a similar vein a sobering and persuasive argument for America drawing back from the imperialist ambitions that have long characterized its foreign and national security policies. Whether in his published works or his numerous magazine and newspaper articles, Johnson left little doubt as to what he saw was driving this geopolitical obsessive-compulsive disorder -- the profits of waging war. To preserve any lasting vestige of itself as a democratic republic, the empire as it stands must be dismantled. He sums it up this way:
"We are on the brink of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation starts down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play -- isolation, overstretch, the uniting of global and local forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end, bankruptcy."
Johnson (who passed away in 2010), basically said that if America is to sustain itself as a viable nation economically, socially, and politically, and preserve whatever integrity, standing and influence it currently enjoys among nation states as a truly global leader in the conduct and management of world affairs, it must attend to three fundamental issues.
Firstly, the US needs to dismantle the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) completely, an organisation which he views as being both incompetent and dangerous, not only to America's own security but global security.
Secondly, he proposes the curtailment of any further expansion of US global military presence, along with the progressive dismantlement of the existing infrastructure. (This itself is an interesting proposal given that my own country Australia has recently signed up to a new agreement with the US to increase its military presence in Australia's north.)