Andrew Bacevich on Semiwar

Andrew Bacevich remains one of my favorite non-fiction authors. His 2 books have truly been a great education in the last several decades of foreign policy.

To imagine that getting rid of Bush will cure what ails the body politic is akin to assuming that excising a tumor will alone suffice to cure cancer. The real affliction is more insidious. For want of a better label, call it “semiwar,” a term coined after World War II by James Forrestal to promote permanent quasi mobilization as the essential response to permanent global crisis…. For semiwarriors, time is always short. The need for action is always urgent. The penalty for hesitation always promises to be dire.

Credit the original insight to Nixon during Vietnam’s latter stages: reliance on citizen-soldiers can impose constraints when it comes to using force; an Army made up of professionals–a military detached from society–could well enhance presidential freedom of action.

The Big Lie propagated by the architects of the Iraq War is not that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction nor that he was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden; it is that they possessed a secret formula for keeping America safe, the essential ingredient in that formula being a mandate to engage in open-ended war

Condolences to the Bacevich family, Andrew’s son was just killed in Iraq. Heart wrenching.