Why US hard power failed in Iraq and elsewhere | Bill Moyers

Outstanding. Military historian Andrew Bacevich sums up the stupidity of US foreign policy and how repeated failures could be rectified. He exposes the “duplicity of ideologues” on calls for intervention in Iraq and discusses the moral responsibility to the people of Iraq. What can be done to alleviate the suffering of the people in Iraq? “There is remarkably little discussion as to cost if you want to bomb someone, but we suddenly become acutely cost-conscious if there is a proposal to assist them.”


Dick Cheney [at 06:00] in 1993, answering a question on the first Gulf war, predicted what would happen if Iraq was invaded: “…Once you take down Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, then what are you going to put in its place? If you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily see pieces of Iraq fly off…..it’s a quagmire.”

Projection of hard power by the US has not solved global problems over the last 50 years. In fact it has exacerbated problems in the Middle East. Soft power is far more effective. But it needs a change of mind-set on the part of the US. Don’t get me wrong. You still need Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick” as a deterrent, but soft power — engineers, doctors and school teachers — are far more effective at winning people over to your world-view than B52s and unmanned drones.

2 Replies to “Why US hard power failed in Iraq and elsewhere | Bill Moyers”

  1. “But it needs a change of mind-set on the part of the US.”

    This statement is true, but (I believe) impossible to achieve in our lifetimes. The US isn’t one thing with a mindset to change. It is a dysfunctional crowd of competing interests, governed by four powerbases puling in different directions. The President, The House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Muscle (read Pentagon/FBI/NSA/CIA/Supreme Court et al) all have powers far beyond the voters’ control, with their members also having competing self interests. Changing a mindset in a muddle like that takes generations of consistent, high quality education in a peaceful stable environment. Long-memoried victims of past injustices will never allow that.

    With the possible exception of WWII, The USA hasn’t gone to war in anyone’s best interest except its own. I may be wrong but can’t recall them winning a war since then either, if you don’t count the massive corporate profits created at home by both the destruction and reconstruction processes that ensue. But that party’s over now. And even when they have a rush of blood to jump in and help, their boots are too big and clumsy to delicately crush the enemy without crushing as many friends (read new enemies) along the way.

    Until gun-tote’n Billy Bob Redneck from Jonesville Alabama understands he’s just one tiny fragment of a mostly non-white world community, and he has the balls to admit it in public, mindsets will harden not soften.

    In my travels have met many decent thoughtful Americans but I have also met many who truly believe CNN stands for Communist Network News, and refuse to watch it.

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