Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Seductive Delusion of Armed Force as an Extension of Foreign Policy

In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons.
Croesus


Andrew Bracevich, an International Relations professor at BU, argues that American politicians, and perhaps most Americans themselves, have become seduced by American militarism as an extension of American foreign policy. He believes this to be a reaction to the turmoil of the Sixties and Vietnam, as well as a doctrine established by President Jimmy Carter to protect American oil interests in the Middle East. Carter reluctantly set the ball rolling, and he wanted Americans to become energy independent and free from the Middle East quagmire. Americans didn't want a debate and we liked cheap oil, so we elected Reagan rather than Carter, and we've been protecting our interests in the Middle East ever since and subsidizing oil prices through military intervention. If people will recall, even Clinton intervened in other countries militarily. This also explains why the Democrats have not challenged American foreign policy and started pulling troops out of Iraq. Here's another reason, jobs/pork. Unfortunately, for Bracevich, American foreign policy has become much more personal. He buried his 27 year old son last year who was killed serving in Iraq. Bracevich serves us by reminding us of the Prussian military genius and visionary Carl von Clauswitz's dictum that war is an extension of politics.

Bracevich may be a visionary in his own right. I wonder if he is the Samuel Huntington or Clauswitz of his generation. His warnings of the danger of going down this path may prove prophetic. William Fallon, the current Centcom Chief, has resigned. He opposed getting into a war with Iran. It appears that the neocons never liked his appointment in the first place. The cynic in me says that oil will likely hit $150-200 per barrel before Bush is out of office. He's got to protect his Sunni friends from the big bad Persians, and Cheney has to protect Halliburton. It doesn't matter that the divisions and problems within Iraq are internal rather than external. The four groups vying for power in Iraq don't wish to share power. They don't want to be or emulate Americans. They are different from Persians who do wish to emulate Americans, but now they can't, because of a restrictive religious oligarchy.

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