Academic journal article The Journal of Psychohistory

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

Academic journal article The Journal of Psychohistory

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

Article excerpt

Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, New York, New York, 2010.

Reviewed by Victor Meladze

The rise of the U.S. military-industrial complex and the long line of American presidents who have staged sacrificial wars - under the guise of national security - have been extensively studied by a broad range of scholars. In Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, Andrew J. Bacevich, a retired U.S. Army colonel, makes a noteworthy contribution to this growing field of study. Bacevich traces the birth and the evolution of U.S. power hierarchy and its policy of global dominance through interventionism. In keeping with C. Wright Mills' sociological analysis of the "power elites," Bacevich examines the far-flung networks of organizations, leaders and subgroups that are in collusion with the military establishment in the perpetuation of armed conflicts. According to Bacevich, the foreign policy script used by all presidents regarding the use of military force in place of diplomacy has remained unchanged since the end of the Second World War. From Harry Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Japanese cities to Barack Obama's escalation of war in Afghanistan, a common behavioral element shared by every U.S. president is the adherence to what Bacevich has termed "Washington rules" - the global leadership paradigm of America's elites.

It was in the crucible of the Second World War, writes Bacevich, that the foundation of the "Washington rules" paradigm was forged. Psychohistorically, this paradigm can be understood as a projection of the U.S. group's granthose-self and prescribed modus operandi with which to realize its fantasized narrative. Bacevich delineates two key components of the global leadership paradigm that every acting president, regardless of party affiliation and number of terms in office, has followed since the dawn of the Cold War (1945). One component is the "American credo," a statement of purpose and the means of achieving it. The credo envisions the United States of America as a lone leader, savior, liberator and transformer of the world.

Bacevich identifies famed publisher Henry R. Luce as one of the architects of U.S. Group's post-World War II granthose-self and imperialistic world view. Luce's articulation of the coming "American Century," writes Bacevich, and his exhortations to "accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit," resonated with the American people - most especially with Washington elites. The "American credo" also prescribes the overarching agency through which U.S. elites can attain hegemonic designs: the imperative to maintain military might and sophistication beyond those needed for self-defense.

The second component of the "American credo" is the "trinity," a methodology of global dominance that U.S. elites believe to be requisites to peace and stability. According to Bacevich, the components of the "trinity" form the very signature of American imperialism: 1) "global military presence," 2) "global power projection," 3) "global interventionism." The "American credo" and this trinity, one defining purpose and the other practicalities of realizing the collective dream, work in coordination with one another and are an integral part of the U.S. Group's identity.

Bacevich is in agreement with many scholars in the understanding that the U.S. policy of global dominance via military might is unsustainable and costly in life, treasure and moral standing. He also highlights the strategy that U.S. elites utilize to perpetuate Washington's world view at the expense of other nations and ultimately of the U.S. population itself. Throughout his book, Bacevich emphasizes that U.S. society is on a path that leads only to catastrophic consequences for the nation and the world. In the book's concluding sections, Bacevich offers alternatives to the "Washington rules," global leadership paradigm that has led the U. …

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