Andrew Bacevich: The End of American Exceptionalism |

Extended Interview: Andrew Bacevich
June 20, 2014


After the broadcast interview, Bill continued his conversation with military historian Andrew Bacevich about what America should do in the Middle East.

Bacevich draws parallels between the current Iraqi crisis and the Vietnam War, discusses our evolving relationship with Iran and challenges neoconservatives for their take on US foreign policy.

“My reading [of history] is of course there is evil in the world that needs to be taken into account and some time must be confronted,” Bacevich tells Moyers. “But let’s not kid ourselves: In somehow imagining that the United States represents all that is good and virtuous, we, ourselves, have committed many sins. And we ought to be cognizant of those sins before we go pronouncing about how the world ought to be run.”

Producer: Gina Kim. Segment Producer: Robert Booth. Editor: Sikay Tang.

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…’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.