The Mistakes of Andrew Bacevich
I am surprised at how mistaken Bacevich is;
"Second, both turned out to be superfluous, undertaken in response to threats -- monolithic Communism and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction -- that were figments of fevered imaginations. In both cases, cynicism and moral cowardice played a role in paving the way toward war. Dissenting voices were ignored.
"Third, both conflicts proved to be costly distractions. Each devoured on a prodigious scale resources that might have been used so much more productively elsewhere. Each diverted attention from matters of far more immediate importance to Americans. Each, in other words, triggered a massive hemorrhage of blood, treasure, and influence to no purpose whatsoever.
"Fourth, in each instance, political leaders in Washington and senior commanders in the field collaborated in committing grievous blunders. War is complicated. All wars see their share of mistakes and misjudgments. But those two featured a level of incompetence unmatched since Custer’s Last Stand.
"Fifth, thanks to that incompetence, both devolved into self-inflicted quagmires. In Washington, in Saigon, and in Baghdad’s “Green Zone,” baffled authorities watched as the control of events slipped from their grasp. Meanwhile, in the field, U.S. troops flailed about for years in futile pursuit of a satisfactory outcome.
"Sixth, on the home front, both conflicts left behind a poisonous legacy of unrest, rancor, and bitterness. Members of the Baby Boom generation (to which I belong) have chosen to enshrine Vietnam-era protest as high-minded and admirable. Many Americans then held and still hold a different opinion. As for the Iraq War, it contributed mightily to yawning political cleavages that appear unlikely to heal anytime soon."
Neither war was “superfluous” once you understand that both were undertaken for domestic political purposes, in order to maintain and fortify the domestic political order that, e.g., in the sixties was under attack by the New Left, Black Power, feminism, or more briefly, “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.” Or as McGovern was characterized: “Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion.” Using the Vietnam War in this way almost backfired but with the election of Nixon in 1968 the strategy proved to be successful.
[But then because Nixon took himself too seriously, thinking he could remake US foreign policy by leaving Nam, dealing with the USSR, and opening up to China, he had to be dealt with by being forced to resign. And the ultimate result was, of course, the election of Reagan in 1980. Game over.]
And the Iraq war was undertaken to underwrite, to secure as much as possible Papa Bush’s “new world order,” proclaimed by Bush after ejecting Saddam from Kuwait - after virtually inviting Saddam - another “move” disguised as a “mistake” - to invade!
What Bacevich calls “grievous blunders” were not “mistakes" but "moves.” Destroying two or three nations and doing it as “mistakes” was at the very heart of the new world order.
By characterizing these “moves” as “mistakes” Bacevich helps to hide what is actually going on. And so, of course, these wars were not “quagmires” into which the US had been dragged; as even Bacevich gets right: "First, Vietnam and Iraq were both avoidable: For the United States, they were wars of choice. No one pushed us. We dove in headfirst.”
Exactly: “we dove in headfirst” in order to, in the 60s, not to defeat monolithic communism but to defeat domestic revolution - and succeeded to such a degree that Reagan’s election was and is proclaimed to be the “Reagan revolution.”
[LBJ’s “Great Society” was created to serve the same purpose. As LBJ said of the Democratic Party after getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed: “We have lost the South for 50 years.” Which put differently would mean: “And the South would rise again!” as it did with Nixon’s “Southern strategy.” That strategy was made possible by LBJ disguised as “liberal.” His Great Society and the Vietnam War were two sides of the same coin.]
And we dove into Iraq headfirst in order to secure our “new world order,” an order characterized by “going to the dark side,” “renditions,” “enhanced interrogation techniques,” “preemptive war,” “the axis of evil,” Guantanamo,” “black sites,” and the “Patriot Act.” All of these became legitimate after 9/11 and after Shrub’s invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq. That the destruction of Iraq was the goal should be obvious insofar as that destruction continued into the occupation. That alleged “fiasco” was not a “mistake;” it was just another “move” by US imperialistic elites.
As Tom Robbins wrote somewhere; “It is what it is. You are what you it. There are no mistakes.” Or as Kurt Vonnegut put it more concisely; “So it goes.” This truly is “No Country for Old Men.”