Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History gave an April 19, 2016 talk at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University on his new book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.
In the book, Bacevich, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins before joining the Boston University faculty, provides a searing reassessment of U.S. military policy in the Middle East over the past four decades.
During the talk, which was attended by faculty, students and alumni, Bacevich discussed what he views as the misconception of America’s military history in the Middle East as a response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“Certainly, key parts of my narrative say that is an inadequate story, that U.S. actions in the Islamic world prior to 9/11 helped set the stage and in some sense put in motion events and developments that led to 9/11,” Bacevich said. “There’s an important first part of the story dealing with U.S. interventions — Lebanon and Libya — in what I call the first Gulf War, the war of 1980-1988, where we intervened on behalf of, yes, Saddam Hussein and Iraq. All of that needs to be understood.”
Despite prolonged U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bacevich said he believes America’s wars in those countries have ultimately displayed a lack of resolve in the face of adversity.
“With politicians and generals too quick to declare victory and the American public too quick to throw in the towel, when faced with adversity U.S. forces rarely stayed long enough to finish the job,” Bacevich said. “I say that even recognizing that in Iraq and Afghanistan U.S. forces have stayed longer and participated in a conflict longer than any others in U.S. history. Instead of intimidating, U.S. military efforts have annoyed, incited and generally communicated a lack of both competence and resolve.”
Bacevich’s talk was followed by a reception and book signing. You can purchase a copy of the book here.
Bacevich also taught a Pardee School online course (MOOC) that is based on the research that has led to this book. Details on the Pardee School MOOC on ‘War in the Greater Middle East’ can be found here.
Andrew Bacevich’s essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of scholarly and general interest publications including The Wilson Quarterly, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs,Foreign Policy, The Nation, and The New Republic. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, among other newspapers. In 2004, Bacevich was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. You can read more about him here.