America's War for the Greater Middle East: A new arrival new arrival Military History online

America's War for the Greater Middle East: A new arrival new arrival Military History online

America's War for the Greater Middle East: A new arrival new arrival Military History online
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LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • A searing reassessment of U.S. military policy in the Middle East over the past four decades from retired army colonel and New York Times bestselling author Andrew J. Bacevich, with a new afterword by the author

From the end of World War II until 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in the Greater Middle East. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere else. What caused this shift? Andrew J. Bacevich, one of the country’s most respected voices on foreign affairs, offers an incisive critical history of this ongoing military enterprise—now more than thirty years old and with no end in sight.

During the 1980s, Bacevich argues, a great transition occurred. As the Cold War wound down, the United States initiated a new conflict—a War for the Greater Middle East—that continues to the present day. The long twilight struggle with the Soviet Union had involved only occasional and sporadic fighting. But as this new war unfolded, hostilities became persistent. From the Balkans and East Africa to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, U.S. forces embarked upon a seemingly endless series of campaigns across the Islamic world. Few achieved anything remotely like conclusive success. Instead, actions undertaken with expectations of promoting peace and stability produced just the opposite. As a consequence, phrases like “permanent war” and “open-ended war” have become part of everyday discourse.

Connecting the dots in a way no other historian has done before, Bacevich weaves a compelling narrative out of episodes as varied as the Beirut bombing of 1983, the Mogadishu firefight of 1993, the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the rise of ISIS in the present decade. Understanding what America’s costly military exertions have wrought requires seeing these seemingly discrete events as parts of a single war. It also requires identifying the errors of judgment made by political leaders in both parties and by senior military officers who share responsibility for what has become a monumental march to folly. This Bacevich unflinchingly does.

A twenty-year army veteran who served in Vietnam, Andrew J. Bacevich brings the full weight of his expertise to this vitally important subject. America’s War for the Greater Middle East is a bracing after-action report from the front lines of history. It will fundamentally change the way we view America’s engagement in the world’s most volatile region.

Praise for America’s War for the Greater Middle East

“Bacevich is thought-provoking, profane and fearless. . . . [His] call for Americans to rethink their nation’s militarized approach to the Middle East is incisive, urgent and essential.” The New York Times Book Review

“Bacevich’s magnum opus . . . a deft and rhythmic polemic aimed at America’s failures in the Middle East from the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency to the present.” —Robert D. Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal

“A critical review of American policy and military involvement . . . Those familiar with Bacevich’s work will recognize the clarity of expression, the devastating directness and the coruscating wit that characterize the writing of one of the most articulate and incisive living critics of American foreign policy.” The Washington Post

“[A] monumental new work.” The Huffington Post

“An unparalleled historical tour de force certain to affect the formation of future U.S. foreign policy.” —Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Review

“[Andrew J.] Bacevich is thought-provoking, profane and fearless. . . . [His] call for Americans to rethink their nation’s militarized approach to the Middle East is incisive, urgent and essential.” The New York Times Book Review
 
“Bacevich’s magnum opus . . . a deft and rhythmic polemic aimed at America’s failures in the Middle East from the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency to the present.” —Robert D. Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal
 
“A critical review of American policy and military involvement . . . Those familiar with Bacevich’s work will recognize the clarity of expression, the devastating directness and the coruscating wit that characterize the writing of one of the most articulate and incisive living critics of American foreign policy.” The Washington Post

“[A] monumental new work . . . One of the grim and eerie wonders of his book is the way in which just about every wrongheaded thing Washington did in that region in the fourteen-plus years since 9/11 had its surprising precursor in the two decades of American war there before the World Trade Center towers came down.” The Huffington Post

“The book reveals a number of critical truths, exposing deep flaws that have persisted for decades in American strategic thinking—flaws that have led successive American presidents to ask the American military to accomplish the impossible, often while barely providing it with the resources to accomplish even the most modest of goals. . . . Read Bacevich—not for the solutions he proposes but to be sobered by the challenge.” National Review

“In one arresting book after another, Andrew J. Bacevich has relentlessly laid bare the failings of American foreign policy since the Cold War. This one is his sad crowning achievement: the story of our long and growing military entanglement in the region of the most tragic, bitter, and intractable of conflicts.” —Richard K. Betts, director, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University
 
“Andrew Bacevich offers the reader an unparalleled historical tour de force in a book that is certain to affect the formation of future U.S. foreign policy and any consequent decisions to employ military force. He presents sobering evidence that for nearly four decades the nation’s leaders have demonstrated ineptitude at nearly every turn as they shaped and attempted to implement Middle East policy. Every citizen aspiring to high office needs not only to read but to study and learn from this important book. This is one of the most serious and essential books I have read in more than half a century of public service.” —Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
 
“Bacevich asks and answers a provocative, inconvenient question: In a multigenerational war in the Middle East, ‘Why has the world’s mightiest military achieved so little?’ ” —Graham Allison, director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government

“Andrew Bacevich lays out in excruciating detail the disasters orchestrated over decades by the architects of the American empire in the Middle East. Blunder after blunder, fed by hubris along with cultural, historical, linguistic, and religious illiteracy, has shattered cohesion within the Middle East. The wars we have waged have given birth to a frightening nihilistic violence embodied in radical jihadism. They have engendered an inchoate rage among the dispossessed and left in their wake a series of failed and disintegrating states. These wars have, as Bacevich writes, laid bare the folly of attempting to use military force as a form of political, economic, and social control. Bacevich is one of our finest chroniclers of the decline of empire, and America’s War for the Greater Middle East is an essential addition to his remarkable body of work.” —Chris Hedges, former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and author of Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt
 
“Andrew Bacevich’s thoughtful, persuasive critique of America’s crusade for the Greater Middle East should be compulsory reading for anyone charged with making policy for the region. We cannot afford to repeat the past misjudgments on the area. As Bacevich wisely argues, the stakes are nothing less than the future well-being of the United States.” —Robert Dallek, author of Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House

About the Author

Andrew J. Bacevich is a retired professor of history and international relations at Boston University. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he served for twenty-three years as a commissioned officer in the United States Army. He received his PhD in American diplomatic history from Princeton. Before joining the faculty of Boston University in 1998, he taught at West Point and at Johns Hopkins University. His three most recent books— Breach of Trust, Washington Rules, and The Limits of Power—all hit the New York Times bestseller list. A winner of the Lannan Notable Book Award, he lectures frequently at universities around the country. He lives with his wife, Nancy, in Walpole, Massachusetts.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

 

War of Choice

 

From the outset, America’s War for the Greater Middle East was a war to preserve the American way of life, rooted in a specific understanding of freedom and requiring an abundance of cheap energy. In that sense, just as the American Revolution was about independence and the Civil War was about slavery, oil has always defined the raison d’être of the War for the Greater Middle East. Over time, other considerations intruded and complicated the war’s conduct, but oil as a prerequisite of freedom was from day one an abiding consideration.

 

As a young man I required no instruction in that relationship, whose sweetness I had tasted at first hand. In June 1969, a newly commissioned shavetail fresh out of West Point, I was home on leave courting the girl who was to become my wife. She lived on Chicago’s South Side. My mother lived in northwest Indiana.

 

Every evening I drove my brand--new Mustang Mach I—-candy--apple red with black piping—-into Chicago to see my beloved and then in the early morning hours returned home. Before each trip, I stopped at a service station to top off. Ten gallons at 29.9 cents per gallon usually sufficed. The three bucks weren’t trivial—-a second lieutenant’s pay came to $343 per month before taxes (more importantly, before the monthly car payment)—-but the expense took a backseat to romance. I do not recall wondering where the gas came from—-Texas? California?—-nor about how much more there was. Like most Americans, I took it for granted that the supply was inexhaustible. All I knew for sure was that with four years of West Point behind me and Vietnam just ahead, life behind the wheel of a pony car in the summer of 1969 was pretty good.

 

It is easy to disparage this version of freedom, as postwar social critics from C. Wright Mills and David Riesman to William Whyte and Vance Packard had already done and others would do. For the ostensibly alienated and apathetic citizens of postwar America, trapped in a soul--deadening “new universe of management and manipulation,” as Mills put it, freedom had become little more than “synthetic excitement.”1

 

Maybe so. Yet whatever the merit of that critique, it never made much of a dent in the average American’s aspirations. The American way of life may have been shallow and materialistic, its foundation a bland conformity. But even for people of modest means, the exercise of American--style freedom did not lack for pleasures and satisfactions.

 

As with the smell of a new car, those pleasures tended to be transitory. But an unspoken premise underlying that way of life was that there was more still to come, Americans preferring to measure freedom quantitatively. More implied bigger and better. Yet few of those driving (or coveting) the latest made--in--Detroit gas--guzzler appreciated just how precarious such expectations might be.

 

As I sped off to Chicago each evening, with radio and AC blasting, the gasoline in my tank was increasingly likely to come from somewhere other than a stateside oilfield. In 1969, imports already accounted for 20 percent of the 15 million barrels that Americans consumed daily. The very next year U.S. domestic oil production peaked at nearly 12 million barrels per day, thereafter beginning a decline that continued through the remainder of the century and appeared irreversible. The proportion of oil coming from abroad increased accordingly. Within a decade, imports of foreign oil had reached 8 million barrels per day.2

 

By 1973, even I was obliged to take notice. That fall, in retaliation for the U.S. supporting Israel in the October War, Arabs suspended oil exports to the United States and the West. The impact of the embargo was immediate and severe. The resulting oil shortage all but paralyzed the U.S. economy and produced widespread alarm among Americans suddenly deprived of the mobility that they now considered their birthright. Oil had become a weapon, wielded by foreigners intent on harming Americans. Here, it seemed, coming out of nowhere, was a direct existential threat to the United States.

 

With the crisis inducing another eyeball--to--eyeball confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger announced that U.S. forces were on alert, pending their possible deployment to the Middle East. At the time, I was a captain, stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, alongside El Paso and just across from Mexico. The regiment in which I served had war plans to deploy to West Germany to participate in NATO’s defense of Western Europe. If required, we probably could have occupied Juarez. But we had no plans to fight in the Persian Gulf, whether to thwart a threatened Soviet intervention there or to seize Arab oil fields.3 The very notion seemed preposterous. At the time it was. Not for long, however.

 

Fortunately, no such deployment occurred, the immediate emergency passed, and oil imports from the Persian Gulf eventually resumed. Yet the availability and price of gasoline had now become and thereafter remained a matter of national concern. Even as Americans were learning to live with nuclear weapons—-the prospect of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union now appearing more theoretical than real—-they were also learning that they could not live without oil. Ever so subtly, the hierarchy of national security priorities was beginning to shift.

 

As an immediate response to the crisis, the Nixon administration hastily cobbled together a plan that promised, in the president’s words, “to insure that by the end of this decade, Americans will not have to rely on any source of energy beyond our own.” Project Independence, Nixon called it. The immediate emphasis was on conservation. Details of what the government intended beyond urging Americans to save were vague, Nixon simply vowing that “we will once again have plentiful supplies of energy,” with the energy crisis “resolved not only for our time but for all time.”4

 

This did not occur, of course, but Nixon’s vision persisted. The nation’s political agenda now incorporated the goal of energy independence as one of those “must--do” items that somehow never get done, like simplifying the tax code or reducing cost overruns on Pentagon weapons programs.

 

The idea persisted because it had broad popular appeal. Yet in some quarters, the larger policy implications of pursuing energy independence did not sit well. The very effort implied retrenchment or giving in. This was not the way the world was supposed to work in the latter half of the twentieth century. Rather than the United States accom-modating others—-in this case, the newly empowered Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with its largely Arab membership—-others were expected to accommodate the United States.

 

As an outgrowth of this dissatisfaction, the notion that American military muscle might provide a suitable corrective began to insinuate itself into the policy debate. Writing in the January 1975 issue of Commentary, for example, the noted political scientist Robert W. Tucker bemoaned Washington’s apparent unwillingness even to consider the possibility of armed intervention in the Arab world. “If the present situation goes on unaltered,” Tucker warned, “a disaster resembling the 1930s” beckoned. To “insist that before using force one must exhaust all other remedies, when the exhaustion of all other remedies is little more than the functional equivalent of accepting chaos” was therefore the height of folly. When it came to something as important as oil, the putative lessons of the recently concluded Vietnam War simply didn’t apply. Tucker wanted policymakers to get serious about the possibility of using force in the Middle East.5

 

Two months later, in Harper’s, the pseudonymous but apparently well--connected Miles Ignotus went a step further, outlining in detail a plan to seize Saudi oil fields outright. Four divisions plus an air force contingent, with Israel generously pitching in to help, would do the trick, he argued. Echoing Tucker, Ignotus categorized spineless American leaders alongside “the craven men of Munich.” Allowing OPEC to dictate the price of oil amounted to “a futile policy of appeasement” and would inevitably lead to further disasters.6 In contrast, forceful military action promised an easy and nearly risk--free solution.

 

Ignotus was actually Edward Luttwak, well--known national security gadfly and Pentagon consultant. In positing a U.S. attack on Saudi oil fields, he was pursuing an agenda that looked far beyond mere energy security. Luttwak was part of group seeking to “revolutionize warfare.” Saudi Arabia, he and his like-minded colleagues believed, offered the prospect of demonstrating the feasibility of using “fast, light forces to penetrate the enemy’s vital centers,” thereby providing a shortcut to victory. This was an early version of what twenty years later became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, Luttwak would later claim, signified “the accomplishment of that revolution.”7

 

Along with a strikingly strident tone, a strong sense of entitlement pervaded both essays. That Americans might submit to “the political blackmail of the kings and dictators of Araby,” Ignotus wrote, in order to ensure access to “a product [Arabs] had neither made nor found” represented an affront. Sure, the vast petroleum reserves were located on “their” territory. But for Tucker and Ignotus, that fact qualified as incidental at best. Middle East oil properly belonged to those who had discovered, developed, and actually needed it. By all rights, therefore, it was “ours,” a perspective that resonated with many ordinary Americans. All that was required to affirm those rights was the vigorous use of U.S. military power.

 

Notably absent from this analysis, however, was any appreciation for context. Tucker and Ignotus alike showed no interest in the recent history of the Middle East. They ignored the dubious legacy of previous Western interventionism, especially by Great Britain, until recently the region’s imperial overlord. That the United States was willy--nilly supplanting the British as the dominant power in the Arab world and more broadly in the Greater Middle East ought to have given Americans pause. After all, the lessons to be taken from the British experience were almost entirely cautionary ones. That was not a baton that the Americans were grasping but a can of worms.

 

More astonishingly still, neither Tucker nor Ignotus showed any interest in religion or its political implications. Theirs was a thoroughly secular perspective. Islam, therefore, simply went unmentioned. Once having asserted direct control over Arab oil, Tucker and Ignotus took it for granted that U.S. troops would remain for years to come. Yet they were oblivious to the possibility that a protracted military occupation might encounter unforeseen snags, whether by violating local sensitivities or enmeshing the United States in ancient sectarian or ethnic disputes. In contemplating action, the United States routinely took into account the potential response of powerful adversaries like the Soviet Union. More often than not, it factored in the concerns of valued allies like West Germany or Japan. That a lesser country like Iran or Iraq or Saudi Arabia could obstruct or stymie a superpower was not a proposition that many Americans at this juncture were prepared to entertain. The policy prescriptions offered by Tucker and Ignotus reflected this view—-even if the North Vietnamese had only recently exposed it as false.

 

This first round of proposals to militarize U.S. policy in the Middle East found little favor in the Pentagon. Ever since World War II, apart from the brief intervention in Lebanon that Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered back in 1958—-a virtually bloodless comma inserted between Korea and Vietnam—-America’s military had by and large steered clear of the region, leaving it in the hands of diplomats and spooks.8

 

Now, in the early 1970s, U.S. forces had their hands full with other concerns. The just--concluded American war in Vietnam had left the armed services, especially the U.S. Army, battered in body and spirit. Recovering from that unhappy ordeal was the order of the day. This meant re--equipping and adjusting to the end of the draft, priorities addressed with the Soviet threat very much in mind. The prospect of intervening in the Persian Gulf figured as exceedingly improbable. The idea of sending U.S. forces elsewhere in the wider Islamic world, to Afghanistan, say, or Somalia, appeared absurd.

 

So when Secretary of Defense Elliott Richardson released his annual report to Congress in April 1973, he evinced little interest in the Middle East and only perfunctory concern about energy security. The 126--page document devoted exactly one anodyne paragraph to each.

 

In the first, Richardson expressed his hope for an end to “the potentially explosive Arab--Israeli conflict.” He cited U.S. arms sales and its “limited military presence” as intended “to produce stability” and to encourage negotiations. Yet Richardson also made it clear that the core problem wasn’t Washington’s to solve: “Peace and stability will be possible only if all the parties involved develop a mutual interest in accommodation and restraint.”

 

In the second paragraph, while noting that the Persian Gulf contained “approximately one--half of the world’s proven oil reserves,” Richardson emphasized that the United States would look “primarily to the states in the area to maintain peace and stability.”9 Pentagon priorities lay elsewhere.

 

A year later, in the wake of the October War and with Americans still reeling from the first oil shock, Richardson’s successor James R. Schlesinger made it clear that those priorities had not changed. The Pentagon remained fixated on the U.S.--Soviet competition. When the United States evaluated threats to national security, Schlesinger wrote, “We do so primarily with the Soviet Union in mind.”

 

His 237--page report reflected that priority. Apart from a brief reference to the lessons of the most recent Arab--Israeli conflict, which merely “confirmed prior judgments” about war, Schlesinger ignored the Middle East altogether. Under the heading of “planning contingencies,” the defense secretary identified Europe, Northeast Asia, and (surprisingly) Southeast Asia as places where U.S. forces could potentially fight. The oil--rich lands touched by the waters of the Persian Gulf didn’t make the cut.10

 

The passing of a year brought yet another defense secretary but no real change in perspective. In November 1975 Donald Rumsfeld ascended to the post of Pentagon chief, which he held for only fourteen months, his tenure curtailed when Gerald Ford lost the 1976 presidential election. In January 1977, Rumsfeld’s annual report, issued as eight years of Republican rule were coming to an end, claimed credit over the course of more than three hundred pages for vastly improving U.S. military capabilities while simultaneously issuing dire warnings about the ever--increasing Soviet threat. In its competition with the Soviet Union, the United States was getting stronger and stronger while falling further and further behind.

 

For Rumsfeld too, therefore, the Middle East remained an afterthought. The United States had a “fundamental interest in uninterrupted access to Middle East oil and gas,” he acknowledged. But satisfying that interest was not going to entail the commitment of U.S. forces and was not going to absorb any substantial part of the Pentagon’s budget. The troops and the dollars were needed elsewhere. So Rumsfeld affirmed Washington’s preference for outsourcing the problem to “reliable friendly forces (for example Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco) capable of contributing to regional order.” Arming “friendly, important governments” that were themselves “striving to maintain peace and stability in the region” promised to suffice.11

 

Through the mid--1970s, in other words, Pentagon strategic priorities remained unaffected by developments in and around the Persian Gulf. To hawkish observers like Robert Tucker, growing U.S. energy dependence along with the rise of OPEC might signify a “radical shift in power” and therefore require drastic action.12 Those actually responsible for formulating U.S. national security policy didn’t see it that way. They shied away from addressing the implications of any such shift. All that was now about to change as Jimmy Carter became president.

 

In a world of nation--states, good will and good intentions will not suffice to achieve peace. Simply avoiding war—-the minimalist definition of peace—-implies a meeting of devious minds. In statecraft, calculation necessarily precedes concurrence.

 

Jimmy Carter saw himself as a peacemaker. On that score, there is no doubting the sincerity of his aspirations. He meant well—-by no means the least among his many admirable qualities. Yet when it came to the exercise of power, Carter was insufficiently devious. He suffered from a want of that instinctive cunning that every successful statesman possesses in great abundance. Carter could be vain, petty, and thin--skinned—-none of these posed a fatal defect. But he lacked guile, a vulnerability that, once discovered, his adversaries at home and abroad did not hesitate to exploit.

 

One direct consequence was to trigger a full--scale reordering of U.S. strategic interests. From a national security perspective, as never before, the Greater Middle East began to matter. From the end of World War II to 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in that region.13 Within a decade, a great shift occurred. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere except in the Greater Middle East. President Carter neither intended nor foresaw that transformation—-any more than European statesmen in the summer of 1914 intended or foresaw the horrors they were unleashing. But he, like they, can hardly be absolved of responsibility for what was to follow.

 

When Carter moved into the Oval Office in late January 1977, he inherited a mess. The previous decade and a half, punctuated by assassinations, racial unrest, cultural upheaval, the forced resignation of a president, and a costly, divisive war, had left Americans in something of a funk. That the economy was in a shambles didn’t help matters. U.S. power and influence seemed to be waning. The amoral machinations of Richard Nixon and his chief lieutenant Henry Kissinger—-cutting deals with the Kremlin, toasting Red China’s murderous leaders, and abandoning the South Vietnamese to their fate—-mocked the ideals that America ostensibly represented.

 

Like every new president, Carter promised to turn things around. He would be the un--Nixon. On the stump, he had repeatedly assured Americans, “I’ll never lie to you.” At a time when Washington seemed especially thick with liars, cheats, and thieves, this constituted a radical commitment. Carter took it upon himself to repair the nation’s moral compass. This defined what history had summoned him to do. In foreign policy, that meant aligning actions with words. The United States would once more stand for freedom. It would promote peace. It would advance the cause of universal human rights.

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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
May you live in interesting times.
Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2017
Having lived through most of this I recall the sweep of these events, but the details had grown a bit fuzzy. To me the overarching theme of Western intervention has been counterproductive at nearly every turn. From the Crusades, which had no benefit to the West but did... See more
Having lived through most of this I recall the sweep of these events, but the details had grown a bit fuzzy.
To me the overarching theme of Western intervention has been counterproductive at nearly every turn. From the Crusades, which had no benefit to the West but did manage to bring Muslims together to oppose and defeat the Christian armies but did manage to ravage Constantinople -- the last Eastern Christian bulwark -- and eliminate its effectiveness as a buffer state protecting Europe, to the utterly insane break up of the Ottoman Empire following World War II that included the enshrinement of the Saudis, the United States'' worst ally in the history of allies, to overthrowing Iran''s elected government and installing a dictator in 1953.
Bacevich''s book starts later in the time line, around the time of the Iranian hostage crisis and U.S. support and arming of the USSR''s enemies in Afghanistan. The pattern of eff-ups continues, whether they''re launched with the best of intentions or in a naked grab at controlling oil or to fend off a perceived Soviet threat.
Most of these events are familiar to me. Where Bacevich is instructive, at least to me, is the military history he is able to bring to bear on the subject.
Unfortunately, even as I read this I can formulate what the next few chapters of this book would look like if updated 10 or 20 years from now as the current clueless moron in the White House flounders in foreign policy. Without learning about -- and for the most part being utterly ignorant of history -- the United States is doomed to fail in this region over and over.
May you live in interesting times, indeed.
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David Lindsay
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
America in the Middle East
Reviewed in the United States on January 16, 2017
Andrew Bacevich was a history professor at Boston University and a former army colonel. The book starts in 1980 and summarizes American foreign policy and the various military campaigns in the Middle East since then. Bacevich is controversial and brutally honest, which... See more
Andrew Bacevich was a history professor at Boston University and a former army colonel. The book starts in 1980 and summarizes American foreign policy and the various military campaigns in the Middle East since then. Bacevich is controversial and brutally honest, which makes the book a fun read. He makes a good case for abandoning the Middle East. Over the years, Bacevich claims that our policy-makers and military leaders in the region have often proved clueless and incompetent. He particularly dislikes Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks.

Bacevich believes that U.S. policy in the Middle East has become incoherent and questions whether we still need to be there. He argues that U.S. policy is now on auto-pilot and blames the military-industrial complex. He claims that there is a bipartisan consensus in favor of perpetual war. Nothing will change unless the public becomes wise to what is going on. He argues that one of the drawbacks of having a professional military is that the public is no longer invested in the wars. As a result, there is no anti-war movement. Most people want to be seen to be patriotic.

Prior to 1980, the strategy was simple; keep the oil flowing. However, Bacevich suggests that Gulf oil is no longer essential to maintaining the American way of life. A weakness of the book is that Bacevich rarely backs up his arguments with data, so he can sound like an opinionated uncle giving you a lecture. My limited research indicates that on this issue he is right. In 2015 the Persian Gulf only provided about 16% of America’s oil, while Canada provided 40% (according to the EIA’s website). The U.S. has become an oil exporter again and no longer needs oil from the Gulf. In 2015, the U.S. was importing 1.51 million barrels per day from the Persian Gulf, but it was also exporting 4.74 million barrels per day to the world. Bacevich suggests it is time to revisit our Middle East strategy. He argues that the Middle East is an unnecessary distraction and America is taking its eye off the ball in other parts of the world.

After the Arab-Israeli War in 1973, the Saudis decided to punish the U.S. for its support of Israel with an oil embargo. This caused economic chaos in the West and long lines at gas stations. Bacevich does not mention the embargo or that Henry Kissinger told the Saudis the U.S. would take over their oil fields unless the embargo ended. The embargo ended. The U.S. has since developed a good understanding with the Saudis probably because it was mostly about oil. Washington has used a mixture of carrot and stick but left the Saudis to manage their own internal affairs. Washington also provides protection in various ways. It has discouraged the press from investigating the country’s links to terrorists or its human rights abuses. The Shah was viewed as a reliable ally and U.S. policymakers remember the chaos that occurred when he was ousted in 1979. All presidents since then have wanted to preserve the House of Saud and have cut it a lot of slack.

After the Shah was overthrown and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, The fear was that Tehran or Moscow might invade the Gulf and seize the oil. When Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, he became a U.S. ally. The U.S. did not want Iran to become the dominant power in the region so it provided guns to Iraq. Rather confusingly, the Reagan administration also provided weapons to Iran. Two years later, America’s ally, Iraq, invaded Kuwait. Saddam became a villain. America’s mission in the region broadened. Reagan attempted to sort out the mess in Beirut and put pressure on Libya. These efforts proved costly in terms of American lives. Reagan, despite his reputation for being a tough guy, backed down and did not retaliate. Bill Clinton supported the UN''s peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, but after the Black Hawk Down tragedy, the U.S. walked away from the country.

Desert Storm in 1991 was a major success and led to a considerable amount of hubris. By 2002 it was received wisdom in Washington that the U.S. had the most powerful military in history and it wanted to use that power to “shape the world order.” After 9/11 the Bush Administration adopted, what can only be called, an imperial agenda. It wanted to invade countries who did not play ball. Iraq was to be a test case. Bacevich claims that Wesley Clark, a former 4-star general, was told by the Pentagon that the Bush administration wanted to invade 7 countries in 5 years, including Iran. Bacevich claims that Bush wanted to Americanize the region.

The Bush team and its supporters saw the U.S. as a global hegemon. Resistance was futile. Bush believed that America was an exceptional country and its destiny was to impose its will and democracy on the rest of the world. The backward peoples of the Middle East had to “change the way they live” and get with the program and forget Islam. If they resisted, the American military would sort them out. This sounded eerily similar to Hitler’s concept of a master race, who because of their innate superiority, could do whatever they wanted.

The brutal tactics of Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, also shared similarities with the Nazis. Bacevich prints an excerpt from a report written in 2004 by the International Red Cross which is shocking. American troops would smash down doors in the middle of the night and beat up ordinary people in front of their families. They would smash their houses and whisk them away to torture factories like Abu Ghraib. This behavior helped destroy America’s moral standing in the region. It was also stupid because it just created a new generation of insurgents who hated America. Iraqis became increasingly hostile to foreign occupation. Its people did not seem to want what America offered.

Bush’s strategy was a dead-end and was abandoned because it became too expensive in terms of blood and treasure. Occupying countries and forcing people to abandon their culture was a tall order in the Islamic world. According to Brown University, both wars cost the U.S. over $4 trillion. After the financial crash, the U.S. could no longer afford to carry on invading countries it disapproved of. It has created a number of failed states. The armies it trained at massive expense proved useless. The U.S. is still trying to put Iraq back together and is retraining a new army. The strategy now seems to be to assassinate troublemakers using drones and special forces. Eliminating potential threats before they emerge.

Bacevich seems excited about the prospect of the US moving into Africa. Bacevich views European colonialism, especially British colonialism, as a root cause of the world''s problems. At this point, he seemed to contradict himself and appears to have learned nothing from Vietnam and the Middle East wars. Fighting in Africa could be disastrous. The former British colony of Nigeria is 41% Muslim and 58% Christian. The country has been independent since 1960. There is tension between the two religious communities. The Nigerian terror group, Boko Haram is inspired by ISIS. Nigeria''s population is 180 million and is expected, by the UN, to grow to 730 million by 2100. Why would the US want to send troops to Nigeria and get involved in an African civil war? How many refugees would it generate and where would they go? What would America''s end game be? Nigeria was relatively peaceful during British rule. They built schools, introduced Christianity, and ended slavery.

Bacevich loves the U.S. military and blames its leadership for its shortcomings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Lebanon. He also claims that the U.S. is trying to be the world’s policeman on the cheap. That is debatable, it could be that it is not very good at fighting insurgencies. The US has been spending more than the next 10 countries combined on defense. Not that long ago the British controlled Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen with a fraction of the troops that America has to deploy. It now seems that China and Russia are stepping up their game and Bacevich may be right perhaps that the U.S. should now focus its attention on meeting that potential threat and forget about the Middle East.
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Walter W. Olson, Ph.D, P.E.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Very Good Place to start thinking about the Middle East War
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2018
“America’s War for the Greater Middle East: a Military History” by Andrew J. Bacevich This is the book that was suggested to my friend and the one of Bacevich’s that I should have read first! First the same disclaimer that I gave earlier in my review... See more
“America’s War for the Greater Middle East: a Military History” by Andrew J. Bacevich

This is the book that was suggested to my friend and the one of Bacevich’s that I should have read first!

First the same disclaimer that I gave earlier in my review of “Twilight of the American Century:” I am the same age as the author (we were born only 25 days apart, within 600 miles of each other.) We both went to West Point, the author in the class of 1969, I in the class of 1973, both during the Vietnam War. He served as an Armor Officer while I served as an Engineer. We both were professors at the United States Military Academy from which we graduated. We both retired from the US Army at nearly the same time. Then both of us became college professors, he in History and I in Mechanical Engineering. And we both retired as Professor Emeritus. We both are nontraditional conservatives in political outlook. But throughout all of the possible places we have in common, I cannot ever remember meeting him or even knowing of him.

I am very displeased that we have lost thousands of young (and old) American lives in the Middle East, that our wars in the Middle East continue to drag on even though several our dignitaries have declared at several different times, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Thus, one of my colleagues suggest that I read Andy Bacevich’s book.

This book is a very good history of how we entered the Middle East, how we continue to expand our purpose for being there and how we have mired ourselves into a situation without end. The book is a vision into its our hubris and profligacy.

The Middle Eastern War started out to protect the American way of life. After failing to convince American’s to conserve energy, President Carter established the Carter Doctrine which set out the purpose of US Policy was to ensure America’s access to oil by stabilizing the Middle East. Without much ado, we can say today, America failed to achieve President Carter’s objective.

Between President Carter’s simple statement and today, The US’s objectives in the Middle East have morphed into something almost totally unrecognizable as a military objective: to establish neoliberal standards on the Islamic world, in effect, “change the way they live!” This means establishing democracy, creating a free market, and “respect for human (and especially woman’s) rights.” At this time in history, none of these objectives have been met. Bacevich traces each conflict, including Bosnia, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc., revealing a multitude of tactics and approaches applied to the vacuous objectives. In the process, the United States found itself dirtied and soiled by the various wars. Today, according to Bacevich (and the underlying reference to Nick Turse, ) the US has troops in more than 150 countries.

More than any other lesson one can learn from this book is Westerner’s do not learn from History! We forget to easily or just plain ignore our failures in the past in the Middle East. In doing so, in each case, we leave the region worse off than when we started. It has been quicksand in its finest ability to prevent our extraction. This is a military history about how we have ignored our own military histories in past wars in the warfare in the Middle East.

But there is more to learn from this book: Westerners imposed nation state concepts and borders on a region where no states or borders exist in the minds of the peoples that live there. Western armies are trained to fight armies of enemy states, yet in the Middle East, these exist only in the imagination of Western politicians who give little credence to tribes and non-state organizations. In almost each case, senior military and senior politicians believe that these non-state entities are personality based and if we whack off the head through simple assassinations, we stop the organization. But in the Middle East, the approach has not worked! The deaths of Osama bin Laden or that of Saddam Hussein did not end the wars.
Even more: The senior politicians and the senior military seem to believe there is a military solution to every world problem! And when the military operations fail, they continue to promote them as Brigadier General did on 15 May 2015 from Kuwait telling the press corps, ISIS is losing. “They remain on the defensive.” 48 hours later ISIS seized Ramadi and Palmyra. No general wants to accept failure. So even if they are relieved, as Lt. Gen. Sanchez was in Iraq, they write selfserving memoirs showing how right they were and how wrong their bosses were; the facts are almost always not in their favor. This book shows how ill thought out military operations almost always drag us into the quagmire (a word the generals hate) deeper.

Yet more: The book has made it plain: The US is stuck! Why is it unlikely that the US will not extract itself from the Middle East in the near future? Bacevich offers four very good reasons:
1) There is no serious opposition to the Middle Eastern War. There are no effective antiwar groups. Both of the political parties of the US have their hands dirty and are unlikely to cause their voters curiosity into the conduct of the war.
2) Politicians to get elected have to give the obligatory “We have to support the troops” rather than promises to get us out of the wars. It is far easier for a politician to provide bombastic, positive support than to call for a serious debate of the Middle East War. Anyone remember the politicians that called for serious debate of America’s Wars? Were there a President McCarthy or a President Govern?
3) There are people, institutions and corporations profiting for the perpetual war. Profits and jobs are supported by building the war materiel. Furthermore, ‘alacrity with which the national security apparatus “discovered” the Greater Middle East just as the Cold War was ending does not qualify as coincidental.’
4) The US public is unaware or, alternatively don’t care, about what is happening in the Middle East. Americans have been insulated from direct effects of the Middle Eastern War. President George W. Bush after 9/11 went to war without making US citizens feel the pain. He urged people to go to Disney World and the movies as they had always done. The military is a professional force with only 1% of the population is serving. Deficit spending paid for by future generations funds the war.

Unfortunately, I find the book, nihilistic. The more the US does, the more sordid it becomes. In the name of military progress, it ignores its moral obligations. It has become the aggressor, ready to use military force rather than diplomatic talent to solve its problems. We throw away young soldier’s lives in failure after failure while Americans at home enjoy their Starbucks being lied to by senior military officers and politicians. Rather than look for sustainability, we recklessly spend our resources and borrow on future generations with the fantasy goal of “changing the way they live.” We refuse to examine the way we live.

Bacevich performs a service in documenting the war. But I am even more frustrated by the Greater Middle Eastern War after reading the book. Our souls are being destroyed much like boiling the proverbial frog, slowly without our knowledge but with a recognizable end. As Andy has said on the last page of the book,

“ One day the American people may awaken to this reality. Then and only then will the war end.”
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frank kelly
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Hard, Ugly Lessons of US Engagement in the Middle East
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2021
Andrew Bacevich is a brilliant scholar who had a distinguished military career. He has also become a leading voice in the US for limited foreign engagement - indeed, many would say he is the spokesman for the isolationist wing in the US (a label that may not be entirely... See more
Andrew Bacevich is a brilliant scholar who had a distinguished military career. He has also become a leading voice in the US for limited foreign engagement - indeed, many would say he is the spokesman for the isolationist wing in the US (a label that may not be entirely fair). Bacevich is also an advocate as the president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statescraft, based in Washington.

With this in mind, reading his superbly written and researched "America''s War for the Greater Middle East" is a sharp reminder of the challenges, successes, and numerous failures in the region for the last 60 plus years. Taking each major event - The fall of the Shah of Iran and resulting hostage situation, the tragic Lebanonese engagement which led to hundreds of US Marines being killed by a suicide bomber, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, etc., etc. - is a painful yet important review of what worked and what did not.

The only thing that mars this otherwise fine work is the tone as there is a tinge of sarcasm and anger in his words. Bacevich has a point of view and he makes sure you know it. Nevertheless, this is an important work to read - especially now as we watch the daily nightmare of the Biden Administration''s colossal failure in withdrawing from Afghanistan - something which scholars like Bacevich will shed light on in years to come.
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S. Freeman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The U.S. cannot achieve its imperial goals in the Middle East
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2017
Professor Bacevich writes exceptionally well. More importantly, he writes on extremely important issues presenting facts and information generally withheld from the people of the U.S. by the mainstream media. There is such a thing as "fake news", such as most of... See more
Professor Bacevich writes exceptionally well. More importantly, he writes on extremely important issues presenting facts and information generally withheld from the people of the U.S. by the mainstream media. There is such a thing as "fake news", such as most of the reporting on the Middle East and the current reporting on Venezuela. The intellectual dishonesty of the mainstream media should come as no surprise to us, as the history of deceit and disinformation by both the U.S. government and the U.S. media is very long and very well established. Professor Bacevich readily admitted in his first book, Washington Rules, he was one of us who had been seduced by the steady stream of lies coming from the government and the press. In America''s War for the Greater Middle East, Professor Bacevich presents important historical background that will be found only in the best university courses on the Middle East. He explains with clarity and precision the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and its imperialist goals and objectives. There is a very sober message here the people of the U.S. need to learn and learn quickly because history tells us clearly empires almost always destroy themselves. Sometimes they fall to other empires; but more often, they self-destruct as did Rome.

We live in perilous times with a bully and a coward infesting the White House (not that Queen Hillary would have been a better president). He claims to be highly intelligent; however, if he were half as intelligent as he thinks he is, he would be twice as intelligent as he actually is. The U.S. lost the war in Afghanistan, lost the war in Iraq, is losing the war in Syria, cannot win a war in Pakistan. Yet, now, Trump threatens an invasion of Venezuela. A sober reading of America''s War for the Greater Middle East tells us those wars, that greater war, cannot be won. Nor will the U.S. win in Venezuela should it be so foolhardy as to invade that country. Most in Latin America already despise the U.S. for its long history of invasion, coups, assassinations, and imperial domination of the hemisphere.

If we do not want to bankrupt our nation, if we do not want our economy to collapse, we must abandon the empire. All of Bacevich''s books, including America''s Greater War for the Middle East teach us empire is a losing cause and the road to our salvation as well as our prosperity runs through abandoning the empire.
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Desert Rat
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant. Accessible. Frustrating. Tragic.
Reviewed in the United States on January 13, 2017
With sophistication and nuance - and occasional muted snark as if to remind readers of why they are probably reading the book in the first place, but also to reinforce the book''s central narrative - former U.S. Army Colonel and retired Professor of history... See more
With sophistication and nuance - and occasional muted snark as if
to remind readers of why they are probably reading the book in the
first place, but also to reinforce the book''s central narrative -
former U.S. Army Colonel and retired Professor of history and
international relations at Boston University, Andrew J. Bacevich
provides us with a meticulously researched and documented account
of the Long War for the Middle East that began with President
Jimmy Carter''s April 24-25, 1980 failed attempt to rescue American
hostages in Iran known as Operation Eagle Claw, and that continues
to the present day with no end in sight.

One war per chapter, we are provided with answers to the
questions: who, what, where, when, how and - not least - why we
are fighting these wars, including an accounting of the tragic
blood and immense treasure expended for the black gold and elusive
geopolitical posturing that escalated as a covert proxy war
against the former Soviet Union and has now emerged as ''Brundle-
Fly'' - a misshapen amalgam of metal and flesh - falling out of the transport pod
and onto the laboratory floor, gasping to be put out of its misery.

The book can logically be divided into ''pre-9/11'' and ''post 9/11''
wars, the former chapters being faster to read while the latter
chapters being full of details that make for slower reading. At
once exhaustive and exhausting, the final chapters fan out from
CENTCOM to AFRICOM and beyond, like the Nile river delta fans out
into the Mediterranean Sea. It is as though Bacevich is saying
without saying it that the Greater Middle East - which now
includes Africa - has become a much more complicated place and
here is how we made it that way and will continue to do so in the
future.

Cui Bono? All of us and none of us, but certainly the ones
closest to the money trough benefit the most, with the spoils
diminishing exponentially among the ordinary soldiers tasked with
carrying out half-baked, self-serving, amnesic, obdurate and
obtuse policies, and finding their nadir among the indigenous
populations who have borne the brunt of America''s ongoing War for
the Greater Middle East.

I got a lot out of reading this book, not least was further
calibration of my BS detector of pronouncements made by government
officials and their loyal stenographers and courtiers, otherwise
known as corporate mainstream media. I also like the Kindle
version with its built-in dictionary that keeps pace with
Bacevich''s prodigious vocabulary. If you''re not inclined to sit
through this slice of military history, then I recommend reading
just the final chapter in a bookstore or library to get the
meaning of this important-but likely to be ignored-book.
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Fang Jin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
History
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2018
I didn''t read many history/military book. Gradually I feel American has been humiliated for the past few years on the war they fought. I don''t understand why. Simply because how can someone be so stupid to fight for something that has nothing to do with him. How come... See more
I didn''t read many history/military book. Gradually I feel American has been humiliated for the past few years on the war they fought. I don''t understand why. Simply because how can someone be so stupid to fight for something that has nothing to do with him. How come someone can waste so much money fighting a war without gaining much in the end and instead lost quite a bit of core value and hurting so many their own people.

This made me think Trump isn''t elected because people like him, they just couldn''t find any other choice to express their feelings, mostly anger. I don''t think you need any education to see this through, although it''s very difficult to find out who fooled us in so many years. The point isn''t that important, what''s important is that we have been fooled, and we should think about how we can, as a nation to make sure we can forget all these and find out a new way so that we won''t get fooled again by the same bunch of people (doesn''t matter if they are lobbyist, Russia, whatever).

It''s very simple, you lost 10 dollars, you can''t erase the memory, but you can wake up and make sure you don''t lose another 10 dollars. The entire nation seems to me is not willing or simply can not accept that they lost the war. Such a shame for someone who won the world war II. Was that just luck?
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Mike Kolls
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A bad sitcom - a FUBAR!
Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2017
US military involvement is the Middle East is a yuge failure and waste of precious resources since 1953. The Trillions $ wasted has brought us global reproach and expensive, ongoing problems. The hatred caused by the misadvised coup 64 years ago is nothing compared to... See more
US military involvement is the Middle East is a yuge failure and waste of precious resources since 1953. The Trillions $ wasted has brought us global reproach and expensive, ongoing problems. The hatred caused by the misadvised coup 64 years ago is nothing compared to today’s revulsion. What a FUBAR!
This history lesson resembles a bad sitcom. It starts with a bad decision/lie and absorbs complications until things are out-of-control. A coup in 1953, a declaration in 1980 (concerning OIL), and unending changes of military action and direction … make for a muddled and yugely wasteful and destructive effort.
US arrogance- that it can lead the world and has a right to do so… is sickening. Being on the winning side of WWII emboldened a well-armed, global tyrant, us, the United States. We cannot arrogantly will the rest of the world to act to support our best interests. We either need to be knocked down a peg or withdraw and let regional hegemons emerge. Cooperation, not conquest, needs to be the new US century. Diplomacy instead of rash military adventurism.
We must abandon our unwanted meddling in the Middle East. The payback back home could be immense. The blow-back from the nations and peoples of the Middle East will be a public relations nightmare and difficult to endure. For the good of the United States we should endure the aspersions and shame and work to re-create friendly relations with regional leaders… our future trading partners.
Why didn’t Truman, Carter, and the rest follow Mr Jefferson’s plan declared in 1800?
“ ..peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entanglements with none.”
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Top reviews from other countries

Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An excellent read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 27, 2020
Very well researched and presented
Very well researched and presented
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Gerald Hensel
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Die Klammer hinter Amerikas Kriegen im Nahen Osten
Reviewed in Germany on November 3, 2016
"In a multigenerational war in the Middle East, ‘Why has the world’s mightiest military achieved so little?" Es gibt Bücher über Politik, die sollte man einfach gelesen haben. Andrew Bacevich''s "America''s War for the Greater Middle East" gehört dazu....See more
"In a multigenerational war in the Middle East, ‘Why has the world’s mightiest military achieved so little?" Es gibt Bücher über Politik, die sollte man einfach gelesen haben. Andrew Bacevich''s "America''s War for the Greater Middle East" gehört dazu. Bacevich skizziert Amerikas militärisches Eingreifen, in dem, was er Greater Middle East nennt, von den Anfängen bis heute. "Kein amerikanischer Soldat", so Bacevich, sei demnach vor 1980 im Nahen Osten gefallen. Dafür fast jeder seitdem. Angefangen mit der fehlgeschlagenen Geiselbefreiung aus der Teheraner Botschaft (Operation Eagle Claw), Carters Nahost-Doktrin, die den Zugang zum Persischen Golf gegen die Sowjets verteidigen sollte, über Reagans Abenteuer in Libyen und dem Iran, dem Golfkrieg, Somalia, bis hin zu 9/11 und Bushs und Obamas Kampf gegen ISIS: das US-Militär ist seit fast 40 Jahren in einem nicht Enden wollenden Krieg engagiert, der mal irgendwann als geostrategisches Interesse manifestiert hat und der längst ausser Kontrolle ist. Bacevich schreibt temporeich, spannend und gibt einen guten Einblick in geostrategische Verwerfungen, den Druck großer politischer Entscheidungen und das Kleinklein administrativer und politischer Winkelzüge. Ein großartiges Buch, um Amerikas Handeln in einer der kompliziertesten Regionen der Welt ein bisschen besser zu verstehen.
"In a multigenerational war in the Middle East, ‘Why has the world’s mightiest military achieved so little?"
Es gibt Bücher über Politik, die sollte man einfach gelesen haben. Andrew Bacevich''s "America''s War for the Greater Middle East" gehört dazu. Bacevich skizziert Amerikas militärisches Eingreifen, in dem, was er Greater Middle East nennt, von den Anfängen bis heute. "Kein amerikanischer Soldat", so Bacevich, sei demnach vor 1980 im Nahen Osten gefallen. Dafür fast jeder seitdem.

Angefangen mit der fehlgeschlagenen Geiselbefreiung aus der Teheraner Botschaft (Operation Eagle Claw), Carters Nahost-Doktrin, die den Zugang zum Persischen Golf gegen die Sowjets verteidigen sollte, über Reagans Abenteuer in Libyen und dem Iran, dem Golfkrieg, Somalia, bis hin zu 9/11 und Bushs und Obamas Kampf gegen ISIS: das US-Militär ist seit fast 40 Jahren in einem nicht Enden wollenden Krieg engagiert, der mal irgendwann als geostrategisches Interesse manifestiert hat und der längst ausser Kontrolle ist.

Bacevich schreibt temporeich, spannend und gibt einen guten Einblick in geostrategische Verwerfungen, den Druck großer politischer Entscheidungen und das Kleinklein administrativer und politischer Winkelzüge. Ein großartiges Buch, um Amerikas Handeln in einer der kompliziertesten Regionen der Welt ein bisschen besser zu verstehen.
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L B
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A military story
Reviewed in Canada on December 17, 2016
In the beginning of the book there is an interesting statistic. From 1945 to 1980 almost no American soldier lost their life in the middle east. From 1990 to present almost no American soldier lost their lives anywhere else but in the middle East. This book illustrates very...See more
In the beginning of the book there is an interesting statistic. From 1945 to 1980 almost no American soldier lost their life in the middle east. From 1990 to present almost no American soldier lost their lives anywhere else but in the middle East. This book illustrates very well how if you only tell a military story it is perfectly legitimate to start your story somewhere around 1980. It is a very tragic story on many levels, and it is an ongoing story. The strength of the book is that it is a military story so you can then ask very pointed and direct questions. What is our objective? What do we need to achieve our objective? Are these objectives achievable? The book lays out very well how if you don''t ask these questions or if you can only give vague or lofty answers, they generally spell disaster if you are looking for a military solution. A war on terror or evil are not good answers to those questions. Disasters have been many, even when initially it seemed the military action was successful, the fallout of the resulting power vacuums made things much worse. The book is a good narrative on how we got into this mess in the middle east, but unfortunately no easy answers or answers at all to get ourselves out. It is a very pessimistic and depressing book. From the suffering that has been inflicted to the apathy of the American people. The military presence there is simply seem as an accepted part of life, barely noticed. Even supporting the troops is seem as abuse by the American people, and a way to absolve themselves of any guilt.
In the beginning of the book there is an interesting statistic. From 1945 to 1980 almost no American soldier lost their life in the middle east. From 1990 to present almost no American soldier lost their lives anywhere else but in the middle East. This book illustrates very well how if you only tell a military story it is perfectly legitimate to start your story somewhere around 1980.

It is a very tragic story on many levels, and it is an ongoing story. The strength of the book is that it is a military story so you can then ask very pointed and direct questions. What is our objective? What do we need to achieve our objective? Are these objectives achievable? The book lays out very well how if you don''t ask these questions or if you can only give vague or lofty answers, they generally spell disaster if you are looking for a military solution. A war on terror or evil are not good answers to those questions. Disasters have been many, even when initially it seemed the military action was successful, the fallout of the resulting power vacuums made things much worse.

The book is a good narrative on how we got into this mess in the middle east, but unfortunately no easy answers or answers at all to get ourselves out. It is a very pessimistic and depressing book. From the suffering that has been inflicted to the apathy of the American people. The military presence there is simply seem as an accepted part of life, barely noticed. Even supporting the troops is seem as abuse by the American people, and a way to absolve themselves of any guilt.
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Akshay
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The author practically tears apart the hypocrisy of the United ...
Reviewed in India on January 23, 2017
The author practically tears apart the hypocrisy of the United States administration in dealing with the Middle-East over decades. What began as the USA''s thirst for oil has changed the geopolitical situation of about one-fourth part of the world forever. Constant wars and...See more
The author practically tears apart the hypocrisy of the United States administration in dealing with the Middle-East over decades. What began as the USA''s thirst for oil has changed the geopolitical situation of about one-fourth part of the world forever. Constant wars and decades of neglect inflicted by the US have helped nether stakeholders in the conflicts. The author thus very systematically recounts every single American folly in dealing with failed states in the region. The conflicts he describes are Iraq, Iran, Aghanistan (part of the greater Middle-East, hence the name of the book), Syria & Libya primarily. The book is a frank admission on the fractured policies applied by consecutive US governments brainlessly.
The author practically tears apart the hypocrisy of the United States administration in dealing with the Middle-East over decades. What began as the USA''s thirst for oil has changed the geopolitical situation of about one-fourth part of the world forever. Constant wars and decades of neglect inflicted by the US have helped nether stakeholders in the conflicts. The author thus very systematically recounts every single American folly in dealing with failed states in the region. The conflicts he describes are Iraq, Iran, Aghanistan (part of the greater Middle-East, hence the name of the book), Syria & Libya primarily. The book is a frank admission on the fractured policies applied by consecutive US governments brainlessly.
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Ivan Franck
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Insightful, Thorough, Sobering
Reviewed in Canada on April 25, 2016
Thoroughly researched chronicle covering the policies, actions, and implications of American presidential and military attempts to control the Middle East. Factors of oil dependency, freedom, triumphalism, and religion, along with a precise military account leading to the...See more
Thoroughly researched chronicle covering the policies, actions, and implications of American presidential and military attempts to control the Middle East. Factors of oil dependency, freedom, triumphalism, and religion, along with a precise military account leading to the current scenario are clearly outlined in this outstanding work. A must-read for anyone caring to understand the Mid-east tragedy.
Thoroughly researched chronicle covering the policies, actions, and implications of American presidential and military attempts to control the Middle East. Factors of oil dependency, freedom, triumphalism, and religion, along with a precise military account leading to the current scenario are clearly outlined in this outstanding work. A must-read for anyone caring to understand the Mid-east tragedy.
2 people found this helpful
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