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« Andrew Bacevich on the American Dream | Main | The Imperial Presidency? »

Michael Winship: Andrew Bacevich, America and the World

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

Andrew Bacevich, America and the World
By Michael Winship

In a letter written in 1648, the Swedish statesman, Axel Oxenstierna, chancellor to both King Gustavus Adolphus and Queen Christina, counseled, “Know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.”

The fighting between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia is an unnerving reminder of that, and of how quickly the balance of global power can be tilted from unexpected directions with barely a warning.

Some hawks and neo-cons called for NATO intervention or even suggested we send in Stinger missiles or the 82nd Airborne as a peacekeeping force. President Bush warned, “Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century.”

Perhaps, but the reality of the early 21st century is that, in the short run, at least, the President’s words ring hollow. In spite of past promises of support to Georgia, Russia is key to our efforts in the Middle East and our European allies are dependent on Russia for energy. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have both our military strength and our international credibility stretched perilously thin at a time when oil-rich Russia is reemerging as a superpower. We’ve boxed ourselves in.

It was in that light that I came upon the Oxenstierna quote the other night, while re-reading the late historian Barbara Tuchman’s THE MARCH OF FOLLY, a knowing compendium, from ancient Troy to Vietnam, of the ways in which, given half a chance, those in power will steer their ships of state straight into the rocks. In the first chapter, she also quotes American President John Adams: “While all other sciences have advanced” – you can almost hear him sighing – “government is at a stand; little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.”

Andrew J. Bacevich probably would agree with all of the above. The retired Army colonel, a West Point graduate, teaches history and international relations at Boston University. His latest book, THE LIMITS OF POWER: THE END OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, explores our nation’s current predicament, not just on the world stage but here at home as well. He spoke with my colleague Bill Moyers on this week’s edition of the PBS series BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.

Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who’s in power, which may be why those of both the left and right are eager to hear his views. Perhaps it’s also because when he challenges American myths and illusions, he does so from a genuine patriotism forged in the fire of his experiences as a soldier in Vietnam and the death a year ago of his son, an Army lieutenant in Iraq. THE LIMITS OF POWER is dedicated to the young man but the senior Bacevich, a man of quiet, solid gravitas, holds his grief privately between himself and his family.

“Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington, D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we the people want,” he told Moyers. “And what we want, by and large is… this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods. We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be… And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the books are balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year.”

To that end, he says, “One of the ways we avoid confronting our refusal to balance the books is to rely increasingly on the projection of American military power around the world to try to maintain this dysfunctional system or set of arrangements that have evolved over the last 30 or 40 years.”

“… I think historians a hundred years from now will puzzle over how it could be that the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the world, as far back as the early 1970’s came to recognize that dependence on foreign oil was a problem, posed a threat, compromised our freedom of action. How every President from Richard Nixon down… declared, ‘We’re going to fix the problem.’ [But] none of them did.”

He continued, “The clearest statement of what I value is found in the Preamble to the Constitution. There is nothing in the Preamble to the Constitution which defines the purpose of the United States of America as remaking the world in our image, which I view as a fool's errand… I believe that the framers of the Constitution were primarily concerned with focusing on the way we live here, the way we order our affairs. To try to ensure that as individuals, we can have an opportunity to pursue our, perhaps, differing definitions of freedom, but also so that, as a community, we could live together in some kind of harmony. And that future generations would also be able to share in those same opportunities… With the current crisis in American foreign policy, unless we do change our ways, the likelihood that our children, our grandchildren, the next generation is going to enjoy the opportunities that we've had is very slight because we're squandering our power. We are squandering our wealth.”

Bacevich believes, “The Congress, especially with regard to matters related to national security policy, has thrust power and authority to the executive branch. We have created an imperial presidency. The Congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. The Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of members of Congress.”
That imperial presidency, he says, “has made our democracy a false one. We’re going through the motions of a democratic political system. But the fabric of democracy, I think, really has worn very thin.”

Iraq, Bacevich concludes, “was a fundamental mistake. It never should have been undertaken. And we're never going to do this kind of thing again.” This might, he thinks, “be the moment when we look ourselves in the mirror [and]… see what we have become. And perhaps undertake an effort to make those changes in the American way of life that will enable us to preserve for future generations that which we value most about the American way of life.”

Andrew Bacevich’s words should echo down the corridors of Congress and the halls of the White House, no matter who becomes our next President.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Michael Winship are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


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Comments

I cannot help but think of a fairy tale I was told, oh, way too many years ago. It was about a king who was so arrogant and vain that he mistook flattery as admiration and fear as respect. When a con man convinced the king that he would attain exceptional status in all the land by wearing specially tailored garments, the king not only jumped at the opportunity, but also purchased those garments at great expense…in fact, he spent his kingdom’s whole treasure on those “garments.” No one in the court dared disagree with the king’s belief in the mystical nature of the garments. The king actually believed the garments were impressive, though he himself had difficulty seeing them when posing before the palace mirror. And yet he went onto parade through the streets of the kingdom, convinced his subjects and rivals would be duly impressed.

As American wallets are pinched tighter and tighter for even for the least necessities of survival (food, shelter, medical care), we are finding that the perhaps we have been walking in “the parade” a bit too long. We are being unceremoniously shaken into the reality of the 21st Century. We are learning that the very devices, desires and actions that we previously had and used to win us admiration and respect globally have become actually quite shallow, petty and hollow and at the expense of the welfare of not only our own citizens, but those all over the planet.

The rest of the world is whispering it. Some nations are even speaking it out loud.

In the fairy tale, as I recall, it was a child who blurted it out. Now, quite a bit more eloquently, it is Andrew Brecevich.

It is no longer a secret. It can be denied no longer:

“The Emperor has no clothes.”

The Andrew Bacevich interview was very thought provoking and I enjoyed it very much. However, I take exception to a couple of points.

While I agree that the new Democratic Congress has many failures, it must be remembered that they don't have enough of a majority to override a veto or to stop a filibuster.

Nancy Pelosi has said the Democrats vote for the funding because they don't have enough of a majority to end the war. While that sounds lame, the Dems have found themselves between a rock and a hard place in this regard. Since they can't stop it, they don't want to be accused of not supporting the troops, which would be political suicide. Hopefully, a clear Democratic majority, along with a President Obama, will end the mess in Iraq, but that may only be my illusion.

Mr. Bacevich is spot on about our selfish way of life that is causing our downfall. Many Americans are aware of this and are doing something about it, but drastic changes are needed by all. Every American can and should take that long, hard look in the mirror, but it takes leadership to turn revelations into a revolution. Such a leader would surely disappoint corporate America's marketing schemes and likely wouldn't realize a second term.

Our democracy and Constitution are on the brink of collapse and it's very troubling that our citizenry is largely clueless and happy to be so.

These "debates" are a total sham! Jim Lehrer is a joke. A REAL debate would last 4-6 hours. Each candidate would be given 30-45 uninterrupted minutes to calmly and intelligently state his/her position on issues of great importance to the citizenry and the nation. THEN each candidate would be given 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time to offer a coherent rebuttal of his/her opponent's position, point by point. THEN each candidate would be allowed 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time to respond to the opponent's rebuttal.
THEN each candidate would be given 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time to put questions to his/her opponent. THEN each candidate would be given 30-45 minutes to RESPOND to those questions! THEN each candidate would be allowed 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time to give a closing statement. The candidates would have pen and pad to write things down during the debate!

Imagine the wonderful education in civic responsibility that such a format would afford to the American electorate!

Imagine the edifying effect such a process would have upon society every 4 years!

Imagine the tremendous benefit such a process would provide to our nation’s children!

Instead, we get this scripted sham format with a "moderator" asking pre-approved questions. We get candidates interrupting one another on the air.

What?

The candidates are too STUPID to formulate their own positions?
They need Jim Lehrer?
The electorate is too stupid to care about a genuine debate that discusses things in depth?

The glaringly obvious reality is that the media and the corporate structure do not WANT an informed, intelligent, politically literate, socially aware electorate.

The corporate structure wants obedient, unthinking, uncritical, self-absorbed, confused, manipulable, obsequious, xenophobic, fearful, docile CONSUMERS.

The pain and suffering will INCREASE, no matter which "political party" is in office. That's because the REAL powers-that-be are the corporate structure.

The pain and suffering will INCREASE, because neither "political party" is capable or willing to challenge that structure on behalf of the citizenry. Both parties are owned by that structure.

The pain and suffering will INCREASE, because all the safeguards erected under the FDR Administration have been severely eroded at best, or totally destroyed at worst...leaving the population totally unprotected against the very worst corporate abuses.

The pain and suffering will INCREASE, because the economy is owned, operated and controlled by a very wealthy elite who do not CARE about the citizenry.

The pain and suffering will INCREASE, because all 3 branches of the government are servile tools of the wealthy elite. Please remember how our illustrious Supreme Court gaveled into office the current occupant of the White House. Please remember how our illustrious Supreme Court arbitrarily halted the recount in the election of 2000.


The pain and suffering will INCREASE, because the population has been deliberately denied access to the fruits of the wealth of the nation: advanced education, universal health care, safe food and water supply, safe roads and transportation systems, productive and meaningful employment, affordable housing, and many other “benefits”.

Consider this: that enormous “greatest surplus in our nation’s history” that we had in 1999-2000 got totally squandered by the current administration. Worse than that, it got transformed into the “largest deficit in our nation’s history”. On top of this chicanery, the elite are now asking the population to bail out the financial institutions (owned, staffed, managed and operated by that same elite) with $700 billion of our tax money!

This in the face of $Trillions in tax monies already squandered in Iraq so that this same corporate elite can “control” that nation’s oil reserves. All the while the American population is paying more money at the gas pumps. Hmmm! How interesting! Yes, my fellow citizens, the pain and suffering will INCREASE until and unless our democratic instincts are aroused sufficiently to begin exercising our citizenship in a vigorous and sustained effort to truly impact decision makers at the highest levels. Until then, the pain and suffering will INCREASE!

All references to "liberals" and "conservatives" are superfluous under the conditions in which we find ourselves here in the USA in 2008. Since the end of WWII, the power of the "military-industrial complex" (and the wealthy elite that owns, operates and controls it)has grown astronomically, REGARDLESS of which party is in the White House or which party "controls" Congress. The Supreme Court, at one point in our history (1886)declared a corporation has the same rights, privileges and protection under the law that a person has.

Divider*************Internet Research
Excerpted:
Business

Before 1886: States and local communities had laws to protect and nurture entrepreneurs and local businesses, and to keep out companies that had been convicted of crimes.

After 1886: Multi-state corporations claimed such laws were "discrimination" under the 14th Amendment (passed to free the slaves) and got such laws struck down; local communities can no longer stop a predatory corporation.

War

Before 1886: Government, elected by and for "We, The People," made decisions about how armies would be equipped and, based on the will of the general populace, if and when we would go to war. Prior to WWII there were no permanent military manufacturing companies of significant size.

After 1886: Military contractors grew to enormous size as a result of WWII and a permanent arms industry came into being, what Dwight Eisenhower called "the military/industrial complex." It now lobbies government to buy its products and use them in wars around the world.

Regulation

Before 1886: Corporations had to submit to the scrutiny of the representatives of "We, The People," our elected government.

After 1886: Corporations have claimed 4th Amendment human right to privacy and used it to keep out OSHA, EPA, and to hide crimes.

Purpose

Before 1886: Corporations were chartered for a single purpose, had to also serve the public good, and had fixed/limited life spans.

After 1886: Corporations lobbied states to change corporate charter laws to eliminate "public good" provisions from charters, to allow multiple purposes, and to exist forever.

Ownership

Before 1886: Just as human persons couldn't own other persons, corporations couldn't own the stock of other corporations (mergers and acquisitions were banned).

After 1886: Corporations claim the human right to economic activity free of regulatory restraint, and the still-banned-for-humans right to own others of their own kind.

http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=126


End Divider**********Internet Research

From that time to this, the corporate elite have partially and/or totally monopolized:

*the resources (both natural and human) of our nation
*the most crucial decisions regarding domestic and foreign policy
*the economy of our nation
*the infrastructure of our nation
*all the machinery of government power

How can anyone who has read USA history NOT see that "liberal" and "conservative" are meaningless labels?

I grew up in England during WWII. I was seven when the war began. When the United States entered the war, after the cowardly sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the population of the UK, while sad for the young American lives lost, were ecstatic that “the yanks are in” and we were no longer alone.

Maybe it was because of Hollywood movies, maybe because the men and women who arrived to help fight the Nazi stain were such a pleasant friendly group, I don’t know, what I do know is that I idolized the United States and its people. I learned the US National Anthem in preparation for a visit of Mrs. Roosevelt to our school, she didn’t show up but I still know the anthem. The US stood, in my mind, for democracy, freedom, honesty and fair play; it was a beacon for those values for the whole world and, on a personal level, a large pert of the reason I didn’t wind up speaking German.

I suppose one could say that I was very young and very naïve, but I still believe those values were ingrained in those young men and women who came to Europe to fight, and many to die, for those principles. Now, all these years later, I look at the country I most admired and wonder what has gone amiss with its basic promise. I still have great faith in the people of the United States of America, but sometimes I wonder if its form of governance, once admired by so many around the world, has been usurped by small petty men with no feel for the greatness of the ideals of the founding fathers of this great country, but with only the lust for personal power and wealth as their guiding influence

I watched the interview with Andrew Bacevich after the debate and was blown away. I am so glad there is still basic common sense intelligence left on the planet. I couldn't disagree with anything he said. I found him to be clear cut, to the point with cause/effect and solution, unlike any politician I've ever seen. The down side is he's not a candidate - as he left the two I had listened to earlier looking like a semi-prepared high school debate team.

Andrew Bacevich is a real conservative, not of the neo-con variety which makes up most of the Republican Party these day. In that sense, he's very similar to Ron Paul, minus the Federal Reserve explanation. I pretty much agreed with everything he said in the interview, which is very rare for me. I'm most certainly going to vote third party as a result of hearing Bacevich's views, and how clever of Moyer to repeat this program on the night of the dog and pony show known as the Presidential "debate."

Wayne Coady (disabled Canadian): Not many people question things or think as you and I do. People want to believe our democracy works because the alternative is just too repugnant for them to contemplate. Most people need the experience of trying their best to make it work, and then finding out it doesn't work for them first hand. This awareness gap might be described as cognitive dissonance.

Once they admit the true situation, people have many tools besides voting (boycotts, strikes- as Allen Wrench points out,nonpayment, many non-violent activities utilizing their creative minds and their bodies).
I joke with the wrench (because he is a prick) but I agree no solution will be perfect. It's a process.I can feel change (way beyond Obama) coming like I can feel Fall coming on. Despite you doubters, it's gonna happen. There may be cascade failure and displacement, but it's gonna happen. I'm only suggesting that people find new ways to organize now to mitigate suffering and violence. Gandhi organized an unarmed, but uniformed peace army, that after his death stood up to hardened thugs akin to Blackwater in order to save lives. Martin Luther King was terminated before he could implement these kinds of strategies. His "I have a dream" speech was not his best day (anniversary today), but the times he talked about classism and ending all war. There is no way sane people could laugh at what I'm saying.

Grady Lee Howard; If we keep taking part in this election process and if we keep supporting political parties, then we get what we deserve.

We can on the other hand revolt and the best way to revolt in mass is not to vote in mass.

These political parties have for years robbed us blind and they never even used a gun...they use the taxation system to extort money out of hard working Americans and then launder those taxes collected into the pockets of their party coporate friends.

If we take to the streets and revolt, the political party in power will turn our own tax paid for police force and military o us.

So we are better off to post a sign on our lawn or in our window that says, party candidates not permitted.

Cheers

Wayne Coady

Robert Stevens: You weren't one of those guys caught in Denver with crank, sniper rifles and body armor were you?

It's too late for violence now, my friends. It will require massive non-violence to escape this chicken processing plant.

We do have to blame ourselves, just a little, for not waking up, asking questions, and getting upset earlier last century. We will obviously have to overhaul consumption and energy use. Might as well accept it and get marching on Washington Inauguration Day, after mock-voting in our bought and rigged elections.

"The AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME for our consumer-based expectation of unlimited credit. We need to look in the mirror and curtail our consumption of Big Oil and Big Credit."

NOT!

The American people are not to blame.

The American people have been so emasculated by corporations and their paid lackeys in the MSM (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ... ad nauseum) that the only thing that AMERICANS CAN BE BLAMED FOR is turning on the TV and paying any attention to the GD Izvestia-Pravda corporate propaganda swill that's being constantly shoveled to them.

After careful reflection about the current scene here in the Military States of America, I am convinced that the people's woes are not soon to be even analyzed, much less addressed in any way.

But to tell the PEOPLE of this Consumer Zone that THEY are to blame sounds very much like yet another phony Carl Rove diversion.

WE KNOW WHO'S TO BLAME AND IT'S NOT US! Take a look at the the Republican Light convention that is now being paraded before us, and look at the brassier version of the same swindle next week.

We have met the enemy and we can pick them out of any lineup:
THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL-MSM COMPLEX and the stupid citizens who continue to show allegiance to it!

What was it that Thomas Jefferson said ... something about tyrants and blood. Methinks he was onto something.

Thanks! I feel better now!

Come on, now! Bacevich's interview is essentially a book report. Democracy Now had essentially the same presentation Wed. August 20th.
(So much for great interviewers Goodman and Moyers.)
Col. Bacevich is being "conservative" about how far gone both our empire and our democracy are. Wishful people are comforted by a less than accurate, but unrealistically hopeful diagnosis. Moyers should be more "liberal" with his alarms.

This was a good interview. But I disagree that the end is near/here. American's can stand the truth. It's just that all the problems are presented in such an overwhelming context, many can't get a handle on them. We've spent $53 million dollars to clean the Chesapeake Bay, but it is getting more polluted. Local jurisdictions will not limit "private" builders from developing along the waterfront. Blame the farmer instead. It's simple, the American people brought the price of gas down, because they stopped "driving". They have already been part of the solution. Congratulate them, they can make a difference. The people can boycott products-if they know the truth. What is missing is "who can we trust". Lincoln created the Academy of Sciences to tell us the truth. Bushco has contaminated that truth. Cheney is a bully and he has control of the school yard right now. We need someone to stand up to the Bully. Obama may well be that person. He's been beating the odds all his life and he respects the constitution. So, there is hope.

This was a good interview. But I disagree that the end is near/here. American's can stand the truth. It's just that all the problems are presented in such an overwhelming context, many can't get a handle on them. We've spent $53 million dollars to clean the Chesapeake Bay, but it is getting more polluted. Local jurisdictions will not limit "private" builders from developing along the waterfront. Blame the farmer instead. It's simple, the American people brought the price of gas down, because they stopped "driving". They have already been part of the solution. Congratulate them, they can make a difference. The people can boycott products-if they know the truth. What is missing is "who can we trust". Lincoln created the Academy of Sciences to tell us the truth. Bushco has contaminated that truth. Cheney is a bully and he has control of the school yard right now. We need someone to stand up to the Bully. Obama may well be that person. He's been beating the odds all his life and he respects the constitution. So, there is hope.

God save the King: The King is dead: God save the (new) King.
As Bacevich so astutely observed: It does not matter who becomes president in a fraudulent procedural democracy. He does not have to worry that American consumption will flag, for that is a given.

Huey Long wished for, "at least 3 million radicals out there." Maybe he meant "3 million barefoot philosopher Kings" with the audacity to inform the public how they've been deceived. But then we never listen to anyone lacking money and a new car, do we?

I guess the collapse has begun, and some Mexican will soon shout across the Texas border(in Spanish), "Mr. McCain, Tear down this wall..." A tsunami of glasnost and peristrokia will drown the present whims and speculations.... but what are you gonna replace it with?

My deepest sympathy to Mr. Bacevich for the lost of the love one. I was against the WAR and I say even now STOP the WAR! Bring our men and women home! “The clearest statement of what I value is found in the Preamble to the Constitution.” The constitution is nonexistence. It is worthless. It has been amended by laws and adapted to serve the special interest group, Institutions and corporation! It exist only in name”!
How does the judicial branch relate to this discussion?
A Judge from the supreme court states, “... what did the WORDS MEAN to the people who ratified the Bill of Rights or who ratified the Constitution, as opposed to what people today would like". Claiming “it puts him on the defensive as defending presumably a dead Constitution." The judge argue. “Society doesn't change through a Constitution, the laws do change and we adopt their value”! In place of an amendment to the Constitution the new “adopted law - value” is $10,6 trillion debt, on going war of trillion dollars, 4200 death, thousands wounded, economic crises – depression, debt etc. “The imperial presidency, has made our democracy a false one”. “The Congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. The Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of members of Congress.” Is very true!
We're going through the motions of a democratic political system. But the fabric of democracy,... really has worn very thin.” Very True!
"The actual system of government conceived by the framers no longer pertains." It is non existence!
“Our saving - the individual savings rate in this country is below zero”. Yes, indeed!
It was a conservative congressman who stated some years ago that Americans should not have more than $50,000 dollars in savings.” Saving for who? Savings of $50,000 dollars, lost value by 50% in 5 year period due to PRINTING PRESS ECONOMY; devalue of currency - by printing press economy principles! “The nation doesn't live within their means. TRADE BALANCE was in the BLACK. By the time we get to the Nixon era, it's in the red. And it stays in the red down to the present. The trade imbalance becomes essentially larger year by year. “ Very true!
I have no doubt “the chickens have come home to roost”!
“What can we do about this?" “If someone in the know cannot stomach what needs to be done how on earth could an everyday Joe or Jane do it?”
Joe and Jane had the stomach, they DID IT 200 YEARS AGO, THEY CAN DO IT NOW. The framers understood “their WILL”, their freedom their harts and soul! Joe, Jane and the framers sacrificed their life, wealth and went to prison. The sacrificed made by Joe and Jane of to day are for the benefits of special interest groups, institutions and corporations!
“Fueling the consumption .... games the Federal and World banks play with interest rates. The fuel...economies consumption... mask the real trend “- DEPRESION, CONFISCATION, OPRESSION and POVERTY!
“The civilization always was a consumption based”! The government “approved 75 billions “ to bail out the institutions to ”insure the consumer” get in bigger dipper debt by spending. Should anyone wonder why “the consumers are suffering through the sub-prime lending debacle”!
“We are squandering our wealth.” There is no wealth to be squander, only DEBT! The nation has been in debt for over 30 years. “$10.6 trillion dollars debt” and a “trade balance in red.” Robin Hood by a printing press! How convenient!
“The US consumer consumption economy since 1970 was artificially fuel”! The governments juggle the numbers to make the inflation figures seem artificially low”, where in fact the national debt has reached $10.6 trillion dollars! “It is all we know”! Wrong! It is all the framers know how to deceit Joe and Jane!
AS "U.S. troops in battle dress and body armor, whom Americans profess to admire and support, PAY THE PRICE for the nation's refusal to confront our domestic dysfunction."
“To ensure... to pursue our freedom..., AS a COMMUNITY, ...to LIVE in some kind of harmony” - amend the constitution!
“To preserve that which you VALUE MOST in the American, way of LIFE, and the ONES that PAID the PRICE then we need to change the American way of life.”
“To change the American way of life” is to EMPOWER the people to express “THEIR WILL on all ISSUES”. If people were “ENPOWER to EXPRESS THEIR WILL on ALL ISSUES”, we would not be discussing these issues, because you would have made CONSCIENCE decision by expressing your WILL as an individual!

I totally agree with Professor Bakevich's assertion that the Democratic House and Senate majority that was elected with a mandate to end the war in Iraq was more concerned with maintaining power than ending the war.

The fact that the Democratic majority did not have the votes to over-ride a presidential veto does not hold water. All congress had to do was continue sending funding bills to the president with defined timelines for withdrawal. If the president failed to sign the bills, the troops would have had to come home for lack of supplementary funding. Such action required far more courage than the Democratic congressional leadership was willing to provide.

This is quite simply the most informative interview I have read in a long time, and I particularly appreciate the gentle way Mr. Moyers guided the discussion and allowed Mr Bacevich to lay out this most cogent analysis--which truly is a model for how all TV journalists should function. I only hope that many people from both sides of the political spectrum are able to read and reflect upon the clear thinking and deeply introspective wisdom that Col Bacevich argues is necessary. I know it has changed the way I myself view my own actions and desires in our economy, I hope I can convince many of my family members and friends, who subscribe to the most ignorant and ill informed political doctrines of our day, to meditate on what he said during the interview, and to vote accordingly. I know it is a tall order, but I remain optimistic.

Thanks very much for having Prof. Bacevich on your show. He seems to be one of very few (handful) people who understands the global issues and willing to talk about them. I only regret the fact that not many people listen to him or act upon those advices and consequently the world will suffer because of that.

My deep gratitude for the on-line availablity of Mr. Bacevich's remarks. I knew I was going to have to miss Friday night's program, and was so frustrated until I found the web site. Bill Moyers, you're a one-man attempt to save the nation, and there are those of us who truly appreciate what you do!
Suzanne

Prof. Bacevich hit home with so many points, i was literally in awe with the things he was saying, because i finally heard someone saying things that I myself have been seeing for quite sometime now, and have not been able to get others to see themselves. Prof. Bacevich stating that we in a sense are to blame for our own situations has been a sentiment that i have felt for a LONG time. So many of his points hit right on time with my own. How he questioned people's support of our troops and basically our ideas of patriotism, i myself always thought of people as being somewhat fake with the whole "USA, USA" rhetoric that came about right after 9/11. Before 9/11 how many people did you see riding around with flags and bumpers stickers on their cars? not very many, the truth of the matter is that we are in all honesty, a bunch of sheep who so easily follow the crowd, whats hip, the latest trend, the new rhetoric, the "shepard" who leads us, all fired up and motivated to a common cause that we perhaps should have thought out before acting upon. The Iraq war was a great con that we as americans jumped on board with after 9/11 to in a sense "get revenge" for what happened. How did we end up focusing so much on iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, when supposedly the mastermind behind the WTC disaster was in Afghanistan all along...i always dumbed it down for people in this sense..."lets say you were a kid in a school getting bullied, the bully finally does some unspeakable act to you, you come up with the means to punish the bully for his transgressions, why would you go to a totally different school and concentrate your efforts in beating up the bully there, and leave the one alone that has done the damage to you at the school you go to?" The points he made about the democratic party were spot on correct in my view and i have been a die hard democrat since i was old enough to vote back in the 80's. We as American's have to get out of this notion that some person is going to come along and fix all of our problems jsut because we elect him or her the President of the United States. We treat president like gods and deify them but then blame all of the misfortunes we have on them. One of our problems as americans is that we really dont want to hear anyone speak the truth about the issues that go on in America, we like to think of ourselves as an advanced thinking group, who have put aside all the ignorances that have plagued us in the past, when all we do is sweep them under the rug and act like everything is fine and "oh BTW, where are the things that i have coming to me?" Its gonna take all americans to accept some harsh truths about ourselves, and stop blaming politicians WE elect, and even worse to cover our screw ups, blame other nations for our troubles we have here at home.

The interview was excellent. A very crediable man. Everything he discussed is a truth. I myself, came upon these ideas over the past few years-they are hard to miss!
One important issue is the use of FEAR . I think this is the key to control the voters. Fear of,terror attack,job loss,addictive life style of consuming,of the belief that we have the "perfect life style" . The fear is the process that allows the politicians to tell the fairy tales that we all buy into.

Professor Bacevich was right on target. A comment posted here referred to the fact that Mr. Bacevich did not address the lack of responsibility on the part of the corporate world and its effects on our culture and personal lives. This author could have also talked about the state of health care, education, and so on. But that would have been another book. Instead, he has addressed issues that are fundamental and need to be looked at before we can fix or improve anything.

We, the citizens, have been partners in corporate abuse, by indiscriminate consuming and in other ways. For instance, this country had the opportunity to vote for people who have been known for denouncing corporate abuse, among other things: Nader and the Green Party. Liberals put them down and did not vote in enough large numbers for them. Many didn't even feel they had the right to run at all. So much for democracy. Not only that, but they were seriously offended because their running for office took away votes from the Democrats with whom most liberals seem to have an ongoing blind affair. In addition, they blamed Nader and the Greens for anything that went wrong afterwards.

We cannot even begin to discuss the ills of our society unless "we look at ourselves in the mirror first," as this author says. We need to stop the political fantasy that it is all about the candidates the two parties have to offer.


This interview shows that both parties are in bed with rampant consumerism

We need to examine the lobbyist power over our representatives. It is not entirely their fault. The American people are to blame for our consumer-based expectation of unlimited credit. We need to look in the mirror and curtail our consumption of Big Oil and Big Credit. We have been going down this bad road since the 80's and the congress has done nothing to curtail this spiral. Recently we have been borrowing almost a trillion a year. It doesn't matter who the candidate is. Neither one of the candidates are going to fix our problems by military intervention in the Middle East. This will continue until we realize that we can't go down that road. I applaude Bill Moyers for his excelent interview with Andrew Bacevich, and I hope that he can continue in the series of "The American Empire Project."

What a sharp analytical program with Bill Moyers hosting Andrew Bacevich!

Normally if someone tells me s/he is conservative or liberal, I tend to ignore the too familiar canned responses. But with Andrew Bacevich it was different. It is a difficult task to let everyone in the country wake up to what he is talking about. The miniscule few informed viewers that regularly tune into Mr. Boyer's programs have a difficult task to make our countrymen realize what needs to be done to fix the situation. Most viewers are tuned into political shows full of demagoguery and reality garbage.
It is frustrating when you vote to bring the kind of changes Andrew Bacevich has described. Try voting in Texas and see how your vote is lost in the stampede of ill-informed electorate!
I must say that Bacevich's conservative views got better of him when he criticized just the Democratic congress for negating on the promise of change - change can happen if you can override presidential veto. Though for the most part he was right on target on all branches of Government.

My TV is broken so I am thankful to find The Journal is online in its entirety – and grateful for the simplicity of its web site.

As for the interview with Col. Andrew Bacevich, bravo. As I watched him struggle to get past the confession of his son’s death, my gratitude for his point-of-view flashed back to the serio-comic film produced by Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11 and the scenes with the distraught mother who had lost her son. It is not for want of such voices that we find ourselves in the current situation. We as a civil society are exactly to blame for the geo-political situation that confronts us. The sentiment’s of Moore and Col. Bacevich’s have not been absent – they have just been ignored.

The streak of silly, Disneyland, consumerism and religious self-righteousness that elects the likes of George Bush will not, I believe, soon disappear. It is probably an old human characteristic and it may the very characteristic that brings down empires throughout human time. Whether it is or not, the inability of most people to actually look at history and then apply the lessons to themselves is profound.

A study of war in the 20th Century demonstrates the fact that patterns repeat endless in the mirrors of puffed up politicians leading youngsters to die. I recently had cause to review an old PBS series called Vietnam the Television War. The segment on LBJ was stunning. George Bush’s speeches could have been lifted from LBJ’s various justifications for the incursion into Southeast Asia. The words were the same.

However, a nasty, and lethal to humanity, turn was taken in the century just past. “The people are now the direct and specific target of all wars,” writes Adi Da in “Not-Two Is Peace.” So witness the Russian invasion of Georgia. Clearly it is the common citizen who is the target, not some standing army.

I do not see a way around the coming darkness – a darkness that may be upon us already. But, I am grateful to both Bill Moyers and to Col. Bacevich for working to bring light.

Unfortunately, our system-deocracy and capitalism- may not have much longer to be sustain us as a nation. Oh, what the hell, nothing lasts forever. The first chapters of the "Rise and Fall of the Great U.S. Experiment" are already written. Many astute Americans are starting to understand this, but most don't have a clue, and likely, don't care.

Eugene. Good question.

Isnt it obvious though? I would suggest simply following Andrew Bacevich's advice and start by not lying to the people and telling them we all need to pull up our socks.

The problem is the people don't want to hear it. They'd much rather be lied to, told they can have anythin they want and they never have to pay. And that is the flaw with democracy, and why they fail. Once the public figures this out, it's all over.

We are at the last couple stages of the cycle with nine stages. I figure that we are in dependency now. Next is the final phase - bondage.

America (and Canada for that matter) desperately need someone such as he caliber of this gentleman at the helm.

Unfortunately, one has to be far more politically correct to get there, therefore it's not going to happen. Such a shame.

If we accept the fact that we have become a nation of consumers as opposed to a nation of producers (as far as physical products go), what can (should) the President or Congress do to minimize deletorious effects on our society?

Bacevich finally brought me to the realization that the two party system is broken. The behavior of Pelozi and Reid should have been enough, I regret that it wasn't. Increasingly as I watch our national behavior I hear the words of future historians describing how we lost our way as a nation. I am not sure it will help to convince the viewers of Bill Moyer's of these truths. I often think that even the vehement conservatives must be able to see that we are going over the cliff. Our only hope is that they will also come to these realizations. They control the media that spews fear and hate and I don't see that changing. Perhaps a coalition of the old liberals and the old conservatives is our only hope. The labels no longer mean anything anyway. Necons controlling the waining middle class by skewing and controlling information seems an almost insurmountable obstacles.

Bill Moyer's Journal on Friday nights has always been the highlight of tthe end of my work week ever since he came back. No matter how busy with other things or sleepy after a long week, I MUST watch Bill Moyers and his guests. Last Friday's was yet another interview that blew me completely away.

I have called and emailed my college son to read/watch the interview. I believe that one of the ways to start the change that Prof. Bacevich so eloquently implied and articulated in his book, is to get the younger generation to pay more attention to voices that give true analysis to what is going on in this potentially will-be-great-again country. Discerning parents, please get yourselves and your children involved!

Thank you so much, Bill Moyers, for the great work that you are doing for democracy.

Bill Moyer has always discussed and held beliefs close to my own. I will, given the alternatives, vote Obama but not with any comfort or sense of security. Andrew Bacevich validated my fear of Obama. It was not so long ago Obama voted for the FISA bill. At that point I wondered about his “imperial presidency” because if Obama is president the bill would provide additional power.
What a dilemma we voters have. Our choices: elect a man that views life in black and white, good or evil, one unable or perhaps unwilling to see grey areas that require thought and nuanced alternatives. I really don’t want another folksy ignorant president. Or, elect this brilliant contrast that appears to struggle for the right answer but has the speaking skills of Adolf Hitler. Yes Adolf himself would be jealous and we all know what happened after his rousing speeches.
All we can do is hope. Hope we pick the right candidate and he will not use his power to do terrible awful things, but instead uses his position to weigh and balance alternatives that reflect the best interest of all of us, perhaps the entire world. Last night in the conversation with the California minister he gave me a little hope. He said that he believed the Supreme Court appointments should be experienced jurists that will bring the Presidency and the Congress back to political balance. I am likely more hopeful than Bacevich.

Once again I was grateful that Bill Moyers and in this case Andrew Bacevich continue to speak the truth, tell the real story, and open our eyes to new insights. Again however, like so often in the past, I worry that this is a message that the American people need to hear but they will not, they are watching FOX and all the other major media that are feeding them the messages that our government and the corporations want them to receive, and they are more than likely not going to read a book!

There are two fundamental changes that must take place in order for the American people to make the right choices at this critical juncture. We must re-implement and revise the laws and rules of ownership of the airwaves and news programs so that the American people have the truth and the facts on which to make intelligent decisions, and we must eliminate lobbies in the halls of congress so that the elected officials can respond to and support the electorate, not the special interests that put them and will keep them in power.

In his "Confessions of an economic hitman" John Perkins talks about the subversion of our foreign policy and our failed leadership and states that the problems will not be fixed by our elected officials, but it will take massive public action, like that of the Vietnam era to force the changes we need. I am contantly struck by the lack of outrage and action by "We the people" but to be fair, that is also part of the message that the corporate media are sending. Major antiwar protests get zero TV coverage and so we are (intentionally) left with the impression that are alone in our outrage and our battle.

As Bacevich and others have stated, I believe we must get involved, take responsibility, and take action to restore this nation to true greatness, not great military power.

Saw the interview and immediately thought of the late George Carlin who said:
"Everyone complains about politicians. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky.They come from American parents and American families,American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's how our system works: garbage in; garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders.....Where are the bright, honest, intelligent Americans, ready to step in and save the nation and lead the way? We don't have any people like that in this country! Everbody's at the mall....." AMEN

Michael your post is silly and makes no sense. Moyers interview is a wake up call for some,but most already know that we are heading into black murky waters.

I was very disappointed that Bill Moyers failed so consistently to challenge Bacevich, who was spot-on about the Imperial Presidency but never took issue with how it got that way; how the current administration continues to break laws, hijack the Constitution and thumb noses at Congress when called to testify. In addition, if Bacevich feels so wounded that his vote for Democrats in 2006 failed to have the immediate effect he intended, he should've gotten a few more of his Conservative colleagues to join him. The Congress does not have a Democratic majority and Democrats can not override the neo-cons still outvoting them on the war, the budget, and issues that will make the difference between further destroying our planet, ignoring scientific advances (shutting up and shutting down all the federal health and science agencies), and beginning to make the difference that Bacevich says is entirely the Democrats' fault for not accomplishing. What happened to Moyers - was he so overwhelmed by Bacevich's personal loss, he feared to criticize him?

Thank You for bringing Mr Bacevich and his views into my life. He is echoing so many things that those of us with children are screaming about. I grew up with a conservitive background in the midwest and became an independent when Bush 1 was in office. I went Dem in the last election so I could vote in primarys again. All in vain. Andrew is saying what we all are crying for. God Bless him for writing this book. Every American needs to cast their eyes inward and take a hard look at what we have done to ourselves and our country.

This man needs to be our next president. The most in-depth and truthful comments ever made regarding our failing nation.

I CAN'T BELIEVE I FINALLY HEARD FROM A TRUTHFUL MIND. YOUR PROGRAM WITH PROFESSOR BACEVICH WAS EXCELLENT! I COULDN'T AGREE MORE WITH EVERYTHING HE SAID, & FELT! HE IS A "TRUE" PATRIOT. WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THAT "THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU (US) FREE". I WISH HE WERE RUNNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY, HE WOULD DEFINITELY GET MY VOTE, AND I'LL BET MANY MORE AS WELL! GOD BLESS HIM & HIS FAMILY. THANKS FOR READING! RALPH,

I found the comments on Carter's "malaise"speech and Reagan's head in the sand optimism enlightening.
The obscene materialism of most American's and the inability of so many to make even the slightest efforts at delayed gratification has been a concern for some time. Mr. Bacevich focused that concern to a new level with his insightful observations.

Here we are in the midst of a self-induced energy crisis and no leader will stand up and ask our citizens to make even the most simple adjustments to some very bad behaviors. We are a nation of drivers who chronically speed. Yet it is apparently political suicide to candidly ask most Americans to slow down and drive gently.

It is no surprise that no sacrifices are asked in the "global war on terror".

My husband and I were speechless after the interview -- looking at each other with the question every has to ask, What Now?

With all the books written, all the information we have about the right, the neocons, the military-industrial complex, the wrongness of the Iraq war -- on and on -- nothing is changing. Now, McCain and Co. preparing a new war mongering stance ready to keep us building missile shields and military to combat Russia and Iran. Where are we headed? Why are these war mongers our leaders when there is so much information out these to discredit them?

We've been politically active but are beginning to become discouraged that all is for naught --- nothing will change. Are others as discouraged as we are?

Carolann

When I hear Bacevich I hear common sense, deep thought, and a concern for the future of the U.S. But my disillusion goes back to my time in the military during the Vietnam era, when I realized we (both Vietnamese and Americans) were all involved (both sides) in advancing the aims and careers of politicians (on both sides). And all these years later I can only manage a wan smile when I hear about 'the America we are going to leave to our grandchildren...' My son lives in Japan, and my 29-month old grandson is learning Japanese and English as his dual 'native languages'. There's no sign my son plans to move back to the U.S. and -- aside from the separation -- I kind of approve of that. Then, on my wife's side of the family (she's from Spain) I look at my niece and nephews in Madrid, and am kind of happy they seem happy living there. And as I age, I can't help wonder if perhaps it isn't for the best that my family is not tied to just one nation. I've lived in Texas, and don't consider myself 'a Texan'. I live here and am (mostly) happy living here, but.... same for living in Houston. I live here and am ok with that, but don't consider my future inexorably tied to the future of this city. So, for all the above, I guess I'm ok with the idea that -- like me -- the U.S. has a future which seems going in only one direction. Perhaps I and 'the modern American Colossus' will go down the tubes more or less simultaneously. Nothing lasts forever, and even the most successful Broadway shows eventually close.... Right?

Posted on the internet 08-16-2008

WASHINGTON - Democrats' stance against offshore drilling has shifted more, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaling on Saturday her willingness to consider opening up more coastal areas to oil and gas exploration.

In her party's weekly radio address, Pelosi said opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling would be a part of energy legislation that House Democrats intend to put forward in the coming weeks to address oil dependence and high gasoline prices.

Lawmakers will be able to "consider opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil," said Pelosi, D-Calif.

Again, someone tell me what party Pelosi represents ?

Seems to me she's on her knees at the altar of the ''ALMIGHTY DOLLAR'' these days.

I just want to add my voice to those who praised this program. I only wish many many Americans could see it!! Bill Moyers Journal is the best program on TV and could lead the country to need reforms.

Sir, your program about Dr.Bacevich was a breath of fresh air. His assesment of our country and its dire future was exactly as I feel. Men like him are what this country need to answer Lee Iaccoca's question,"where have all our leaders gone". Please keep up your fine programming.

The sickness of over- consumption has been with mankind since we all stood up together around a campfire. It took millenia to learn how to store and keep, then more millenia to stockpile for motives other than need. Humankind has just begun to awaken globally to the lust for too much when enough will do. We cannot blame countries who are only beginning to remove the weight of their poverty, for their desire to have what we have; although we can see the earth already groaning under the weight of the new demands. Our challenge now is to choose another way, with grace. For Americans at least, the joys of conscious restraint, love of enough, gratitude for having what we need, and the real opportunity to create a new aesthetic together, must replace the mindless accruing behavior we have exhibited since the 1960's. We can begin by focusing on supporting one another locally. Vote with your feet, your dollars, and your voice.

Mr. Bacevich's book should be required reading for every high school senior in the country. And your show
should be required watching weekly as it is for me....thanks for a wonderful show.

Andrew Bacevich is a true American who is right on track - only does not go far enough to identify the real shadow government behind all this, for this was very well planned by a small group of powerful international bankers and industrialists that first sought control as far back as 1913. My research in my book "Our Puppet Government," identifies this group as the majority owners of the Federal Reserve and David Rockefeller's TC and CFR, which have replaced our disfunctional Congress and seek to replace the United States with their Monopolistic New World Order. H.W. Bush, one of the first Imerialistic Presidents and the Overlord of the Shrub Dynasty in his State of the Union Message said, "What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea- a New World Order." As a WWII veteran I don't recall ever agreeing to this treasonous act of turning our nation's sovereignty over to a Single World Government under the fallacious title of Globalization, which Mr. Bacevich speaks to so admireably.

Andrew Bacevich is a true American who is right on track - only does not go far enough to identify the real shadow government behind all this, for this was very well planned by a small group of powerful international bankers and industrialists that first sought control as far back as 1913. My research in my book "Our Puppet Government," identifies this group as the majority owners of the Federal Reserve and David Rockefeller's TC and CFR, which have replaced our disfunctional Congress and seek to replace the United States with their Monopolistic New World Order. H.W. Bush, one of the first Imerialistic Presidents and the Overlord of the Shrub Dynasty in his State of the Union Message said, "What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea- a New World Order." As a WWII veteran I don't recall ever agreeing to this treasonous act of turning our nation's sovereignty over to a Single World Government under the fallacious title of Globalization, which Mr. Bacevich speaks to so admireably.

The solution to the problems that Bacevich points out is to reform ourselves. Obviously politicians cannot deliver on their promise to solve the "energy crises" or any other problem. Instead of relying on government, we must solve the problems ourselves. Instead of the few votes we have at the ballot box, we need to excercise the hundreds of voting opportunites we have every day - our purchases. We must alter our characters so that we live within our means, so that we reduce our energy consumption. We must become savers rather than spenders. Once it becomes apparent that we are thrifty citizens rether than profligate consumers, corporate and political america will respond accordingly.

ATTN: BILL MOYERS & Prof. Bacevich...GREAT long over dew assesstment of a crude reality. AMERICA was and maybe still is a dream, while the U.S. is the reality that needs improving via a WAR ON IGNORANCE and then the one on Poverty. BILL...you and Bobby K. inspired me to do the WALL OF HISTORY & THE BRIDGE OF YOUTH docu for the People-to-People Prog.
which led today to a 10hrs.titled AT WHAT PRICE OUR CIVILIZATION? Would you and Prof.caare to narrate?

As a Vietnam era veteran it was too easy seeing this coming. Beginning with the Bay of Pigs, continuing through Vietnam, Granada, Nicaraugua, Kosovo and now Iraq and Afghanistan each administration has progressively expanded the use of military force when diplomacy may have produced better results. America abandoned the higher moral ground with our invasion of a sovereign nation, despicable despot notwithstanding. Democracy - government of the people, for the people and by the people - cannot be imposed upon the people.

As a businessman in India during Clinton's cruised missle effort to "get" Osama Ben Laden, an effort which resulted in an errant cruise missile killing of innocent civilians in Pakistan, an Indian businessman asked me "Why does America think they can get away with this? Are you not aware Pakistani paramilitary troops are training at Ft Benning, Ga? What is there to keep India from lobbing a few cruiser shells into Ft. Benning?" My reply was simply "Because we can, and if India tried they would not get their cruiser back." Because we can does not mean we must.

My issue with this interview is what are we going to do about this? What am I going to do about this?

As a citizen I have rights, but as with any right these rights come with responsibilities. Beginning with personal consumption, I can consume only what I need and forego that which I only want. With Bacevich as an inspiration I can speak what I believe, not what is convenient or opportune to convey. With my vote I can break the cycle of incumbency, starting with my town and city council.

The military taught me much, not the least of which was the ultimate test of accountability. Have I done everything I can to prevent the loss of my brothers in arms? Our children in uniform deserve nothing less.

How to get this country to this level of discussion and ability to look within..to look in that mirror a very big task indeed. I too was brought to tears.

But I have been crying for our country for almost 8 years tears of outrage starting with the court deciding the election in 2000.....

Thank you both for this program. I am passing news of it and the ability to see it on to others.

I'm tired of this argument: it doesn't matter who we elect; there's no difference between the two candidates. I remember back when the Greens succeeded in persuading a bunch of people that Al Gore was no better than GW on the environment. Now I ASK YOU....!

I watched the interview with Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich last night. I found myself agreeing with almost everything he said about where this country now is with an Imperial Presidency and our inability as a nation and a people to look at the truth and begin to act for the future of our children. But I was struck in the interview how Bacevich neglected to focus on the effects of corporate decisions to seek the bottom in wages globally thereby weakening our ability as a country to remain a producer nation. Workers in industries were left helpless as their jobs were exported around the world. Then we became addicted to consumerism of low prices, ala WalMart in a vicious cycle. And of course we as consumers became lured by the media and advertising to create the excesses of buying on credit. There is blame enough to go around and the answers are not easy. But the tragedy is our politicians do not have the courage to speak these truths before it is too late. Harriott Quin, active citizen who has fought the lure of the consumer, military complex for a long time.

Bravo Messrs Moyers and Bacevich and all who made the broadcast of this interview a reality. Thank you for your patriotism in presenting this accurate view. I particularly applaud the indictment of the Bush Doctrine of Preventive War along with the scoundrels in Congress who conveniently broadcast palaver against the Iraq War all the while maintaining its funding with impunity and the press for its blind eyed lassie faire reporting before this war began.

The due date for a sensible secure energy policy has long passed over 30 years ago. However late the hour, I agree that this must be the foremost issue on the presidential agenda. Funneling the world’s wealth to the least politically stable region on the planet in exchange for oil is a suicide pact for civilization. We must immediately develop an energy alternative to oil that is less costly, more sustainable and technologically innovative. If we do we can become the world’s greatest energy provider instead of its greatest consumer and draw down the importance and influence of the Middle East and Russia with its endless appetite for military invasion of its neighbors. If we fail to then we should prepare our children to hand the keys of economic and political freedom over as they most assuredly will be forced to before the century is out.

The idea that we can have an all volunteer military that the citizenry appropriately supports and honors is as Professor Bacevich points out is fantasy. All Americans must have some skin in the defense game to have both support and restraint of our military.

Thank you again for your service to our country in presenting the truths aired in this program.

An hour that verbalized my frustrations with the U.S. interference throughout the world and the $91 billion dollars that the U.S has spent on Foreign Military Assistance since 1950, while our deficit climbs into the trillions every day.
Americans look in the mirror and reduce consumerism? Unlikely. Many are too blinded and brainwashed by the media and soothed by superficial distractions. The poor are overworked and trying to figure out how to to survive, working multiple jobs and dodging bullets in the ghettos. Suburbanites are isolated and don't want to rock the boat. At least some, if not more, corporate elite and politicians are too busy amassing wealth and power off the backs of consumers and government subsidies.

Perhaps, when the consequences of Mr Bakevich' assessment occur, that is, when the money runs out and we have no allies left in the world, then, we will be forced to look in the mirror. We'll have plenty of time to do so, with no jobs, no food in the frige, no escape in the car without gas, no retail therapy...nothing to do, but look in the mirror and wonder where the American dream went.

Why doesn't he just come out and say it:

We the American people are responsible for electing Bush, and yes, we the American people are responsible for letting the Iraq war happen. Looking in the mirror, is say that yes, you have failed yourself. Perhaps there is a natural depravity to mankind that our introspection will stop just short of finding, and in that is the essence what Bacevich must find to be truly enlightened. I sense that he is conflicted with his conservative views and as a result will be handicapped in seeing everything in totality.

His desire to bring to order and maintain things at home, will lead to isolationism, protectionism, and nationalism -- worse than it is even now. We will become China. His thoughts need to be thought through. And I am not suggesting there is a better solution, for I am open to the possibility that there is none.

Ah, come on Michael Winship; how can you praise a boring guy and his writings when a far better set of writers are telling us what's wrong and what to think. For example, let's praise Corsi's Obamanation -- now that is a polemic tha will rouse the nation to action.

So refreshing to hear these truths about our democracy shared with honesty and compassion. I am moved and inspired. Let's hope there is a revelationand a reckoning in our county...soon. Thank you Andrew, Thank you Bill.

I agree with his basic premise,but feel he leaves out the great force of corporate power and wealth, which lives on consumerism, and the media, which keeps us as ignorant as possible (except for Bill Moyers, God bless him!) Again, thanks for the best hour on tv every week.

Wow...we were rivited..amazing interview, his honesty was overwhelming. He spoke as if reading our minds. Although there were some points we would question, overall, bravo, Andrew, for saying what needs to be said. As always Bill, a rational voice in the din, thank you.

Thank you as always Bill for bringing us the truth.Andrew Bacevich moved me very deeply and on many levels. Clarity, articulation, and passion in expressing the truth.There is that special sense one feels when hearing the deeper truths uncolored by politic or personal agenda. Thank you Mr. Bacevich for sharing those truths with us.

Mr. Bacevich's interview was one of the most powerful that I have ever seen. Why can't we get men of his caliber and integrity into office? It makes me feel better after reading most of the postings to get a sense that some Americans may not be as ignorant to what has been happening to our country as Fox or CNN might lead you to believe. Thank you both for doing the interview.

Thank you Bill Moyers for presenting this interview to the public. Mr. Bacevich is brilliant and so logical. Everyone should read his book to become truly informed about the U.S. and the world situation. I hope Mr. Bacevich will be interviewed in future on such late night shows as Bill Maher & Jon Stewart so this valuable information is heard more often by more people. I'm a Canadian; it brought me to tears; we're all in this together.

What a straightforward commentary on our Country.

Mr. Bacevich's interview and book should be mandatory viewing and reading for every high school senior, every university student in our Country ... not to mention every politician.

Mr. Bacevich's analysis is truly illuminating. He exposes the reasons underlying our present predicament in a clear, coherent and uncompromising message. Thanks, Bill Moyers for bringing his work to our attention.

Thanks to Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich for this powerful interview. Sadly, though, (considering Mr. Moyer's audience and fan base), it's just preaching to the choir. Until our politicians and the mainstream media take it upon themselves to address these issues, I see little hope for change.

Astonishing, profound, scholarly, and so utterly relevant. I am so moved and well-provoked by this remarkable man. I am so thankful to Bill Moyers for bringing Andrew Bracevich to speak to us, and so deeply impacted by his words.

Fantastic show! Bill at his amazing best with Bacevich. Every Journal show is outstanding. But this was so important that my screen froze three times and made me wonder about establishment hacking your site. I’ve written about some of these issues, but Bacevich is so clear, comprehensive, and incisive that I plan to use his work in discussion groups. It is unclear, as he says that we can recover at this late date from the royalist lies, conceits, with unprincipled greed and violence that has shredded our liberties, given-away-the store of our national wealth and productivity with our trade policies, disgraced us before a desperate world, engaged in mass murder and other war crimes as well as destroyed our political processes of representative government and judicial protection of our Constitution.

Other essential guests of Moyers, particularly constitutional lawyer Professor Bruce Fein, have contributed some of the potential solutions to follow the crucial analysis of Professor Bacevich, that is: expand to a total public financing of all elections to end control by lobbyists; restoration of a balanced Supreme Court to restore our Constitutional Bill of Rights; require un-hackable election machines and other related reforms; end so-called Executive Privilege that prevents Congressional oversight of the White House; start English style Presidential Question Periods in Congress each week; end rewriting of laws passed by Congress with so-called presidential Signing Statements; end all torture by any U.S. agency, contractor, or surrogate; end private armed forces; restore Freedom of the Press for our need to be informed by ending monopolistic controls of the mass information systems by controlling expanding media consolidation; and building a truly effective and non-violent prevention of terrorism through: a] elimination of global grinding poverty, b] movement to end teaching hate, and c] political consequences for all terrorist acts, as well as the expanded and sensible policing advocated by Professor Bacevic. This list amounts to the sort of pledge for candidates and officials proposed by Professor Fein that we should demand if democracy is to survive.

You can read what I had to say about Bacevich there. I'll post here what i wrote about Georgia a couple days ago, here:

For years during the Cold War the Soviets snuggled up to Arabs, but let's face it, Slavs have historically shown a great racial hatred of Muslims and anyone who looks like a Muslim. Their expansion ideas predated the Soviet era and they would have, if they could have, taken over Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq in the last century. That is why I think we should have let the Japanese and Germans contain them rather than trying to do it ourselves, supporting colonialists, who didn't deserve it. What I think will have to happen, if things continue in this vein, is that Europe will have to embargo Russian gas and oil, and eventually, since I suppose the Chinese will then move to take up the slack, both Europe and the US will embargo Chinese goods, and we will be back to 1990. Altho I think this unfortunate for the world-at-large, and it may well turn out that both of us are too feckless for that, it would be better for the US, which has spent too much in the attempt to civilize them, resulting in profligacy, arrogance and poverty in all three countries, and for the Chinese who are otherwise heading for a Japan-style debacle. The only way for the world to live in peace at this stage in its development is for nations to live within themselves and engage in reciprocal trade in a spirit of mutual help and nurture. This is, btw, more what I think Marx had in mind.

Thank you Bill Moyers Journal for the deeply moving interview with Andrew Bacevich. There is a reckoning that is upon us with this war and our rampant materialism. I too, believed Carter was way ahead of his time. How disgusting it was to see Nancy Reagan pull down the Carter's solar panels and focus on the "designer" remodel of the White House.

How beautifully Mr. Bacevich summarized the precipice America is teetering on. He has brilliantly described our tipping point.

He is so compelling. He must get more exposure.

I am a bleeding-heart liberal and I can't say enough how much I was magnetized by Bacevich's views. Amazing food for thought. Thank you Bill Moyers for bringing this to us.

Thanks Col/Prof Andrew Bacevich, and thanks to Bill Moyers for provided the opportunity for millions of PBS viewing Americans to learn from Bacevich. Lets all promote Bacevich to be our Secretary of State in the coming administration - who ever becomes President. If we could achieve that my hope in the future would truly soar. Best wishes.

Powerful show. Powerful guest and a great conversation always.

My husband and I are in our 60's and have been grumbling the same assesment of our government since the Carter years. Thank goodness Mr. Bacevick has put our grumblings into an eloquent, intellegent, reasonable and rational presentation. Everything possible should be done to spread his message across our nation. We ARE in trouble and our grandchildren are going to pay the price if they are not educated about how our system and we have corrupted ourselves.

A soundbite is not education or information, but unfortunately what has become the source of information to our masses. We must thoroughly educate our children and grandchildren about the intricacies of government, history and social involvement in order to give them perspective and the informational tools to take our nation forward.

I wish Mr. Bacevich would speak at our granddaughter's elementry school. We need more teachers like him.

Thank you for being our voice.

A few years ago, my wife and I decided to heed the wisdom of our teacher, who said,"Debt is bondage". At that point we decided to stop living on credit, and pay our bills. It took 4 years but we got it done. As a country we face the same issues - How do we learn to live within our means? How do we stop being scared and spending our money to buy "stuff" that will make us acceptable? And when do we take responsibility for what the people we vote for - actually do when they go off to congress? I believe we still have a few years to change our ways, but it's not exactly easy. It requires a deep commitment to paying attention to the effects of all of our actions, and frankly that isn't something that most
Americans like to do. And with corporations and people in power really happy to play to our fears, it requires an even deeper well of determination for all of us to take our power back. Thanks Mr. Moyers and Mr. Bacevich. I don't know when I've been so inspired.

It was a pleasure to listen to Bacevich's wisdom and sound critical thinking. It is profoundly moving to hear that the wisdom that helped forge the United States Constitution still exists in the minds of some men today, however this nation is culturally and spiritually not what it was at that time. We have been blessed and have become the wealthiest people in the world, and that very wealth has encouraged greed and small mindedness. But were all the people in 1776 men of great minds? Or didn't petty selfish values rule then too?... The laws of economics may determine our future more than idealistic values embedded in a patriotic view of the past. Can we make choices today that would be similar to the post WWII Marshall Plan? Designed to keep Japan and Germany from turning to communism, the aid contributed to their success in the auto industry and to the relative decline of our own. We won our objective in strengthening West Germany and Japan but there was a price to be paid. If that is an example of a foreign policy that achieved sound objectives, what choices does the U.S. have in a world where oil is and always has been synonymous with corruption? Greed is a fact of life and blogger Nicholson describes it well. I agree with Bacevich however that the heart and solution is not "out there". It does not lie in turning our banking or military industrial complex on its head any more than peace and prosperity lies in fixing the world. Our national character is qualified by a population requiring representative government beyond human scale. The Viet Cong dug tunnels through mountains by hand to rid their country of the French. They were hungry and they loved their country. I think Americans love their comfort and crave the attention of celebrity status because they/we lack historical and culture-based social/psychological ties to nationhood. People feel connected to their nation when their fathers, brothers and sons shed blood against oppressors. We still have fireworks about a rebellion that's over 200 years old. Things have gotten too easy. Our problems are not just political, they are economic and when the day comes that the average American high school graduate has a firm grasp of our country's political economic history and the science of economics as applied to international affairs, then we as a people might be able to own our country. That won't be in our lifetime, obviously but it's something to envision instead of just imagining the people of 1776 having been better Americans in a better America. They had something to fight for. We don't have that common sense. We're just fighting to achieve a level of comfort in a middle class - most of us - that is out of reach.. . I'm sorry for Professor Bacevich's loss. What he is doing in his son's memory is highly honorable. Hopefully Americans will listen. And some will bridge the gap between these honorable values and economic realities.

Mr Bakeviich's is so on the mark. But unfortunately no one wants to hear or face it. Easier to leave it up to our children and thiers. We have become followers. Too busy to think for ourselv.

I believe Mr. Bacevich is telling americans the truth in that we want all the time and we want it now what ever it is.So what is the answer? Our Congress and Senate cannot legislate morallity or ethics we as Americans should look deep in our on hearts and souls and not our neighbors. we can call it revival an awakening or whatever,but each one of us should be able to perform a self exam to check our own functionalty,from spending too much on frivolous wants, to keeping up with the Jones's 

I loved what Andrew Bacevich had to say on the program this evening. He was so on the mark about what has been going on in this country since Ronald Reagan became president. If we continue to expand ourselves outward instead of consolidating our owm national situation, the country will come crashing dowm like Russia did in l990.
I completely agree with Mr. Bacevich's opinions and ideas.

Mr. Bacevich is just the type of people that should be running this country. He manifests all the assets our politicians lack today "courage and intelligence" I believe we truely are a "nation of sheep" We did not learn anything from Viet Nam, Richard Nixon,or any other mess we created. Great--Great for Bill Moyers Jrl--the only program worth watching on TV.

Iraq was not a mistake. Iraq was just one more well planned and executed “chaotic” step in the "right" direction of global empire building and eventually leading to the ultimate demise of the Nation State including The United States of America whereby a small faction of global financial elites will ultimately rule the world from the top down and "democracy" will only exist for the very few at the top as it did in ancient Greece rather than for the majority of the people and for their "general welfare" as was intended by the founding fathers and stated in the Preamble of the US Constitution as follows:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The ONLY solution to preserve democracy as the founding fathers intended is rather quite simple however it's enactment quite bloody. Return to The American System of Political Economy as the founding fathers intended and throw off completely and without compromise the chains of the “British” Oligarchic (read privatization) System of Colonialism and Central Banking that has been systematically foisted back upon this country by “Tories” found both inside and outside of our government and private industries. It has been this latter “British” Adam Smith Private Central Banking System (read Corporatism as in the pure Mussolini form of Fascism) that has allowed private financiers to control governments and armies including our own and provoke wars in their interests and not for the general welfare of the people's and the peoples sovereign state.

Eisenhower warned us in 1961 in his “farewell” speech about the forces behind the curtain, the military-industrial-(congressional) complex that if allowed to continue to consolidate its power would eventually come to influence and control all aspects of economic, political, scientific, and even spiritual aspects of American life.

We are there NOW. Where is our General Smedley D. Butler? Colin Powell squandered his chance.

I watch stories of the Beijing Olympics & think of the dastardly tactics Emperors did to remain an "Imperial Presidency" in that time. Do we want to become an Imperial power in that mode? NO, a 1000 times NO! I'm hoping a new policy can be made by "democratic" Americans so that our country will be seen as a GOOD force for imperialism, not w/ war but kind acts. I KNOW, I'm a "cockeyed optimist" I s'pose but there's a new way we look at our "world" now that we see our Planet's mortality as well as our own perhaps in this 21st century. I so loved Col. Bacevich for writing a book that Bill Moyers highlighted every other line so that he would have him on the JRNL. so we can ALL benefit. Thank you, Bill & all involved w/ this interview. I DO HOPE IT WILL DO SOME GOOD!

I am encouraged by Mr. Bakevich's clear and honest assessment of this countrys present state of affairs.
He may not expect the next president to produce any real change but I remain hopefull. If change is going to happen we must clearly understand where we are, how we got here and where we want to go. I want to thank Bill Moyers for giving Mr. Bakevich an opportunity to speak truth not only to power but to we the people who must exercise our power and patriotism if we are going to preserve the opportunities of this country for our children and grandchildren.

Never tho't I'd be brought to tears by a W. Point grad who points out the truth of how our Constitution is no longer "true" but can be a "mirror" to US ("we the people, NOT United States.) I have been so depressed for so long about Govt. & so anti-war back to my Sunday School days. (Loved the pic of the Lion lying down w/ the Lamb.) I also loved many artsy symbols/photos of "PEACE" as I was a college grad in 1966,(an Art Minor, I did a few of my own symbols, in fact.) In my doldrums, I have cried "how can this Iraq situation turn us around & see US in the "mirror" so we can DO what's needed?" An English major, I loved "irony" & "satire" in the worlds' writings. This Bacevich has gone through the "valley" so he could write a tome of truth as he did. Ironic? I do agree w/ him that we don't REALLY support the troops. I've been in Support Groups for PTSD & Depression, I may go volunteer to the local V.A. hospital to talk w/ the "victims" mentally of this WRONG WAR. May the writing of the book by Col. Bacevich make that "wrong war" come around to let the populace see his truths. I'm NOT in satirical mode, but I REALLY DID LOVE what he said!

Michael:
Who needs a mirror when Bush and Putin (emperors)are identical twins?
So both liberals and conservatives listen to Bacevich on the exhaustion of our empire and military prowess, but who gets beyond providing for elite need?
Liberalism and conservatism are like two Mafia families, both focused on "earnings" via empire. Empire is over for the U.S. It's time for the people to make their wishes known. What would Bakevich say about a Jubilee, a defaulting on all debt? Is he worried about his "investments"? Ask him, Michael. Patriots are willing to make personal sacrifices.

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