When I studied under Andrew Bacevich 15 years ago his was a voice in the wilderness. Now, sadly he would say given all of the suffering that has happened in the years since, his voice is the most credible representative of the vast majority of the American people. Where the clear majority of the people in this country country is now—disgusted by failed interventions, tired of continued fear-mongering and ready to reject an imperial president’s wishes—is where Bacevich has been for two decades. His interview with Phil Dononhue for the PBS show Moyers & Company is the clearest, most historically grounded and morally insightful expression I have heard in this debate. Be sure to see it. This is a moment when perhaps the American people will begin to dig deeper into how we have arrived at this moment. Here is a summary of his appearance:
With the probability of American intervention, Syria is everywhere in the news. Phil Donahue, filling in for Bill Moyers, speaks with historian and Vietnam veteran Andrew Bacevich about America’s role in the world and the possible repercussions of our actions in the Middle East. Given what we know about what’s going on in Syria, is a U.S. response justified? And if we take action, where and when does it stop? Is a military response justified and if we take action, where does it stop?
“If you think back to 1980,” Bacevich tells Donahue, “and just sort of tick off the number of military enterprises that we have been engaged in that part of the world, large and small, you know, Beirut, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia — and on and on, and ask yourself, ‘What have we got done? What have we achieved? Is the region becoming more stable? Is it becoming more Democratic? Are we enhancing America’s standing in the eyes of the people of the Islamic world?’ ‘The answers are, ‘No, no, and no.’ So why, Mr. President, do you think that initiating yet another war in this protracted enterprise is going to produce a different outcome?”