America’s Dismal Foreign Policy – and What to Do About It

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“Just as the self-congratulatory domestic narrative focuses on the inevitable expansion of freedom from ‘sea to shimmering sea’,” Bacevich writes, “just as the America-abroad narrative emphasizes the spread of freedom to far corners of the world. notes that it is “even less prone to ambiguity and paradox than the local narrative” and excludes “troubling themes such as imperialism, militarism, and the massive killing of non-combatants.” Even in the “good war” 80 years ago, for all Americans or all countries finds a mismatch between windy rhetoric and harsh reality, which is by no means all that good.

Beginning in 1942, Bacevich reminds us that Frank Capra “Why We Fight” A series of seven government-sponsored documentary films that give “a greatly simplified account of the origins of the Second World War” and depict “a people deeply committed to freedom and equality for all”. An addendum to these films was called “The Negro Soldier,” and it was far from the grotesque irony that America was fighting the most hateful racial tyranny in history in a war with a meticulously segregated Army, and this “Negro soldier” was mostly kept in mundane roles. .

And perhaps World War II has distorted the American perspective since then. When President Biden speaks of “the strength and audacity that led us to victory in two world wars,” he forgets that the United States entered these wars late (and in the latter case unintentionally) and succeeded in large part through his ordeal. others. The first war against Germany was won by the blood sacrifice of the French and British Armies, the second by the blood sacrifice of the Red Army, with American casualties being modest in comparison and in both cases very significant American contribution. Since then, when has the United States really won a war? From the stalemate in Korea to the latest failures, it’s hard to see a clear victory.

What Americans do not fully understand is what might be termed the impotence of great power. In the heyday of the Cold War, two major superpowers clashed, each armed with an enormous array of nuclear warheads. It seemed that no other country could prevail over both. But what actually happened? The Americans were humiliated by one army of rags peasants in Vietnam, and the Russians by another in Afghanistan. And in both cases the impact on national self-confidence was overwhelming. The Afghan adventure demoralized the Red Army before precipitating the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the US Army in Vietnam in the 1970s could be described by the words of an 18th century British general for his army: a state of immorality that would make it terrifying to all but the enemy. ”

Some of Bacevich’s points are more poignant to be personal: Recalling the brutal use of deciduous in Vietnam, he sadly adds: “The high incidence of prostate cancer among Vietnamese veterans (including myself) is due to their possible exposure to Agent Orange.” When offered “After the Apocalypse,” he says, “not for my own contemporaries, but for those who will inherit the mess we made.” And what a great group we contemporaries are! Compare us with previous ones. In my home country, every prime minister from 1940 to 1963 – Churchill, Attlee, Eden and Macmillan – had previously served as an infantry officer in the Great War, whereas in 2003 we were drafted into the Iraq war by Tony Blair and a government. More than a hundred ministers, none of whom had served in the military.

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