Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« Language and Culture | Main | Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Crocodile Tears on Wall Street »

Can the U.S. Military Achieve Victory in Afghanistan?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

In this week's JOURNAL, Bill Moyers sat down with historian, retired Colonel, and military expert Andrew Bacevich to discuss America's "long war" in Afghanistan, which is now in its ninth year.

On a recent trip to Afghanistan, President Obama said in a speech to U.S. troops that the war is a "vital mission" and that he is determined to achieve victory:

"Your services are absolutely necessary, absolutely essential to America's safety and security... If this region slides backwards, if the Taliban retakes this country and al Qaeda can operate with impunity, then more American lives will be at stake... You will be backed up by a clear mission and the right strategy to finish the job, to get the job done. And I am confident all of you are going to get the job done right here in Afghanistan... That's why I ordered more troops and civilians here into Afghanistan shortly after taking office. That's why we took a hard look and forged a new strategy and committed more resources in December... Our broad mission is clear: We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies... There's going to be setbacks. We face a determined enemy. But we also know this: The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. You don't quit, the American armed services does not quit, we keep at it, we persevere, and together with our partners we will prevail."

Bacevich suggested U.S. military leadership has largely given up on the hope of a traditional military victory and that armed nation-building in Afghanistan is not an appropriate task for our troops:

"One of the most interesting and perplexing things that's happened in the past three, four years is that in many respects, the officer corps itself has given up on the idea of military victory... they say that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, that we will not win a military victory, that the only solution to be gained - if there is one - is through bringing to success this project of armed nation-building. What makes that interesting to a military historian of my Vietnam generation is that the collective purpose of the officer corps after Vietnam, this humiliation that we had experienced, was to demonstrate that war works, that war could be purposeful, that out of collision on the battlefield would come decision [and] victory... The officer corps has, I think, unwittingly forfeited its claim to providing a unique and important service to American society. Why, if indeed the purpose of the exercise in Afghanistan is - to put it crudely - drag this country into the modern world, why put a four-star general in charge of that? Why not put a successful mayor of a big city? Why not put a legion of social reformers? Because the war in Afghanistan is not a war as the American military traditionally conceives of war."

What do you think?

  • Do you believe that U.S. troops can achieve military victory in Afghanistan? Why or why not?

  • What objectives in Afghanistan are attainable and how should the U.S. work to achieve them?

  • TrackBack

    TrackBack URL for this entry:


    There is no way we can win there. We should admit to being defeated and retreat but no... we are too proud...

    I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

    Mr. Bacevich is absolutely right. I believe our President is being carried along by the likes of General McCrystal. Military "leaders" and those who profit from wars will always try to convince us we can solve any problem in any country by force.
    Posted by: Shirley Nelson

    Posted by David Eddy
    Perceptive post Shirley
    After being deceived by General Powell, I would think President Obama would realize that Generals are going to support war not peace and that their concerns would not be consistent with the best interests of the people of this nation.
    We are not fighting conventional wars that can be won. We are fighting both the cultural and structural methods of two countries that are incompatible with our culture and structural methods.

    The results will be disastrous just like they were for the Russians.
    May God have mercy on our souls

    Mr. Bacevich is absolutely right. I believe our President is being carried along by the likes of General McCrystal. Military "leaders" and those who profit from wars will always try to convince us we can solve any problem in any country by force. It has never worked and never will. I am in the later years of my life -- about your age, Bill -- and would like to look to however many years I have left with hope and confidence in my country. I cannot do that when the military, Congress, big bankers and, yes, even our President are behaving badly. How could the money that is spent in Iraq and Afghanistan be better used?
    1. Start repaying the deficit.
    2. Underwrite health care.
    3. Ditto education
    Our own country has many problems. When will we give those more attention and funding than we give to countries we do not understand?

    Dear Mr Moyers,
    I was just watching your TV show on PBS.It was about the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    My thoughts are that to divest U.S. involvement in Afghanistan would be a tragic response fueled by ' Why should we {the U.S. } be running up a huge tab trying to wrestle control of an extremely poor nation to only be fighting an un-winnable battle away from a large band of self serving war lord criminally insane Bandidos'.
    When Russia backed down on their bid to rectify an opresive governing body,the Afghan world was left in shambles.
    Why should Afghanistan think think we'll hang around and fight beside them until an acceptable level of humane conditions and security finally occur in Their lives,if we are not committed to endure an open ended pursuit of fair and decent living conditions for their future?
    Would that not be enough to continue U.S support?
    Is that not what we are all about?
    Sad but concerned
    Daniel Pickles

    Nils wrote, in part, "Our adversaries simply have us “over-the-barrel” when it comes to psychological warfare."

    After 2000 years, Judeo-Christians consider it


    to find the most innocent

    and crucify them.

    Get rid of belief in the

    Atonement Doctrine

    and the psychobabble carefully constructed around that kind of "god"

    loses its POWER.

    The continued death of our young men and women in uniform to fight an enemy that is now engaged in talks about forming a coalition government seems shameful and a continued waste of our national resources.
    Posted by: Thomas L. Hodges

    Posted by David C. Eddy
    Thanks to our nut case Republicans: we no longer have a Democracy, we have a Corporate Oligarchy. The government is bought and paid for through campaign and lobbyist bribery. How can we promote Democratic systems for other nations when our own Democratic system no longer exists?
    What is even worse, we are practicing terrorist methods while claiming to be fighting terrorism. We have sociopaths making decisions on critical issues. Our politicians do not keep promises and they can do nothing without appeasing their heavy contributors. Not only does the government ignore the plight of its middle class workers; it is taking them to the cleaners. The news media has everyone so confused they do not know which way is up.
    We are wasting our manpower and resources on trivia and meaningless wars that only benefit the wealthy.
    Our religious institutions are preaching war instead of peace and want to force their corrupted religion on other cultures.
    We seem to be hell bent on self-destruct when we are desperately trying to stabilize our own nation.

    Aloha Bill & Staff,
    Foreign Policy, Economic hard times, Unemployment, Wars in far-off lands and the Military.
    Why hasn’t our media had the courage to tell the American people the real reason we can’t bring our young men and women in the Military back to their homes and loved-ones?
    1. Weapons and their byproducts are BIG Business for American industry!
    2. Who, in their right mind, would return hundreds of thousands of people, trained in the arts of WAR, to a nation submerged in an economic downturn bordering on depression? Their dissatisfaction with what they would encounter – combined with their skills-of-war, could be the catalyst to civil unrest unlike anything this nation has seen!
    3. A foreign policy which only supports dictators and demigods who repress their people and pocket aid monies is BAD Policy and only insures a negative image of America (the beautiful?)!

    Dear Mr. Moyers,
    Your journalistic work is unquestionably superb. A few weeks ago, prior to the President's visit to Afghanistan, the local press reported that Karzai was attempting to cut a deal with the Taliban and had invited a top Taliban leader to meet with him in Kandahar. I have yet to hear the President or Secretary of State acknowledge this development. It seems that the only hope for a stable government in Afghanistan may be a coalition with Karzai and the Taliban. Regrettably, the repressive policies of both the Karzai regime and the Taliban would be the policies of the country. Can we, however, really succeed in building a western democracy there, given the centuries old belief system that includes the degradation of women? The continued death of our young men and women in uniform to fight an enemy that is now engaged in talks about forming a coalition government seems shameful and a continued waste of our national resources.

    Aloha Bill & Staff,
    Foreign Policy, Economic hard times, Unemployment, Wars in far-off lands and the Military.
    Why hasn’t our media had the courage to tell the American people the real reason we can’t bring our young men and women in the Military back to their homes and loved-ones?
    1. Weapons and their byproducts are BIG Business for American industry!
    2. Who, in their right mind, would return hundreds of thousands of people, trained in the arts of WAR, to a nation submerged in an economic downturn bordering on depression? Their dissatisfaction with what they would encounter – combined with their skills-of-war, could be the catalyst to civil unrest unlike anything this nation has seen!
    3. A foreign policy which only supports dictators and demigods who repress

    Dear Bill,

    I'd like to emphasize a point about your interview with Andrew Bacevich, which I found very impressive. It seemed quite ironic to me that his interview was followed by that of Louise Erdrich, who writes so profoundly of the Native American plight.

    When Mr. Bacevich pointed out so wisely that we do not really understand that the Islamic cultures might not see happiness in the same terms that we do, he seemed to give the impression that this is a fairly recent attitude on our parts--that is, the U.S. Government, and most of the dominant U.S. culture in general. But, in fact, it dates back to the earliest of times in the founding of the nation when the dominant, Christian, white, men began to progressively force their cultural and religious values on the Native American population, almost leading to exterminating them entirely.

    I believe that, until the U.S. embraces this most horrible part of our own past, we will never be able to see that we have this deeply-rooted tendency to force our perspective on other peoples, or to expect that they should agree that our perspective is the best--if they could only have the chance to experience it, etc.

    I would have liked to see the interviews with Bacevich and Erdrich overlap. I think that could have produced one of the most enlightening conversations anywhere to be seen or heard.

    Let’s see, in recent shows the Journal has addressed the plight of gays and African-Americans. For me, these are two of the three main reasons to why I am no longer a Republican. The third is the poor. Maybe the Journal could stand up for them one last time. Just a thought.

    Billie of April 9 you have hit the nail on the head! Use Greg Mortenson's example of providing the gift of education and basic life improvements, such as potable water and sanitation to those with the greatest need. Let this be our foreign aid package based on respect, devoid of bribery, arm twisting, and pupet shows that are the standard fare. What could happen if all that money spent on war went towards enhancing the living conditions on this planet for all of us. Don't buy into the "enemy" thing, my comrads are going back to nam 43 years later giving hugs to those stll alive that were the "enemy" then. Which is a good thing.

    I was very disappointed when Obama made the decision to stay in Afghanastan. He will regret this for decades. It's dangerous folly.

    I was watching another insightful PBS program, NOW, and it was on the city of Braddock Pennsylvania. This small rust belt city is dieing and is losing it's only hospital.

    What struck me about the show which interviewed one of the most amazing mayors in the country, is how we have bailed out wall street, big banks, and spent billions in Iraq and Afghanistan and yet we let cities like this die with the people in them.

    Every year over 40,000 people die from lack of health care insurance coverage. We let the vets from these wars rot when they come home as well.
    They have the highest unemployment rate at this point in time.

    For those of you who support these expensive excursions I say shame on you. Shame on us for letting this come to pass.

    Andrew Bacevich is absolutely correct in his assessment of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. The debate boils down to simple cost/ benefit analysis. We are expending tremendous amounts of resources including American lives to pursue a fools errand. At the end of the day all this effort will make little effort in terms of advancing American interests and will bankrupt the U.S. in the process. Check your history, most empires go bankrupt.

    No mention of Afghanistan as a major for Caspian gas/oil corridor?

    I am disappointed in you Bill.

    With over 700 military bases around the world, the US has a vested interest in maintaining 'war'.

    When one has a hammer in one's hand, every problem looks like a nail.

    I'm surprised that Bacevich makes no mention, nor does Moyers ask, about "The Grand Chess Board" or how the politics of resouces, in this case mineral wealth and oil wealth figure as the central motive in our being in Afganistan. Most educated people assume that this is a resource war having less to do with trying to subdue Jihadism than with our protecting avenues for resouce movement (pipelines/oil and rare minerals) for multi-national corporations for whom the government's military is deployed....

    I respect Mr. Bacevich, but let's not forget that going to an "all-volunteer" US military was a very conscious move forced upon the US government after wide-spread rebellions in the US conscript military during the US War on Vietnam. The "significant gap... between those who serve in uniform and the rest of us" Mr. Bacevich refers to is very much an anticipated consequence to make such aggressions as the US War on Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. possible again. The USG learned its Vietnam lessons well (the wrong lessons) and doesn't want an army of drafted "citizen-soldiers" openly questioning and refusing their orders and these wars of aggression.

    === from online extended interview ===

    BILL MOYERS: But how do you explain that a country is so passive about a war that to so many people who, like you, seems to be at cross-purposes. Why are we so passive about it?

    ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, this is the unintended and, I think, unanticipated consequences of moving to an all-volunteer force, and in essence, driving a stake through the tradition of the citizen-soldier. That we do have a circumstance today in which there is a significant gap, I think, between those who serve in uniform and the rest of us.

    Andrew Bacevich is the most realistic and thoughtful observer of the limits of American Power. Our narrow, nearsighted view of "national security" will be the seed of our undoing. That Americans seem to be passively willing to squander trillions of dollars to fight undeclared wars in the middle east yet sue to test the constitutionality of providing health care for the uninsured is indicative of our collective disfunction as a people and as nation. Bacevich expresses this failure of our culture and the political class better than anyone.

    Mr Bacevich makes the crucial point that Al Qaeda is a mafia type organization, and that it is absurd to carry on this war in Afghanistan. Toppling and rebuilding countries like Iraq and Afghanistan are not the solution. For those of us who have known this from the beginning, nine years of war and 50 thousand more troops from Obama (who we thought would get us out of Afghanistan) is almost too much to take. Thanks for having Mr. Bacevich on again--he always gives me hope. It may not be the audacity of hope, but at least it's sane, rational and real hope.

    In order to understand the two incursions of the Bush years one must first have a clear picture as to just how all of this was started.

    In the case of Afghanistan, a thorough picture of 9-11 is necessary. It was the Bush administration’s blaming the Al Qaeda with the attacks on 9-11 and then pointing their finger at the Taliban for harboring them. Until there is complete disclosure of 9-11 there will never be known the full story of this sorry episode.

    Iraq is another picture, the Bush administration has presented a number of reasons for their attack; WMD, regime change, bring democratic principals to the region, all were and are suspect.

    The only logical explanation for their incursion is control of the oil facilities, which is not mentioned by them.

    Now we have in Afghanistan and Iraq “The General’s War” wars that will continue until the generals believe that they have won, they want to insure that these wars will not be another Vietnam. In both wars there is no mention as to the feelings of the indigenous peoples, how they feel about having boot shod troops pounding down their streets and disrupting their lives. There doesn’t appear to be any regard for history or to the culture of these peoples. Of course in Iraq with millions of people killed and millions dispossessed with huge walls erected and aircraft and thousands of heavily armored troops marching about there was bound to be a lessoning of violence. If the truth were known the Iraqi people themselves must be given credit for this diminution of violence and not the much-vaunted `surge`. It was the Iraqi people, or those with influence in Iraq that decided that there had to be a halt to the excess in killing created by Al Qaeda and other such groups.

    It is truly reprehensible to even consider that we can `win` either war when one realizes the arrogant fraud involved.

    That which is eating into our economy is a Doctor Frankenstein monster created during the Cold War and now is growing fat and menacing—the Military-Industrial Complex. The millions of people involved has given this insidious disease a force that will be extremely hard to control; even Congress is beset with this rapacious beast. Congressional representatives and senators whose districts rely upon war contracts are very strong in maintaining this enigma.

    It feeds upon war and the rumors of war as it reaches out into almost every branch of American life. The current `War on Terrorism` and its handmaidens the Iraqi and Afghanistan affairs are but two of growing numbers that help to swell this cancer.

    President Obama will have a very difficult time in attempting to keep this doctrine for war from influencing our foreign policies. The emphasis must be on mediation through global diplomacy, a step that is on a very slippery slope primarily due to the overriding emphasis of the Bush administration’s policy to follow the Reagan doctrine of global hegemony.

    A democracy is a policy of individual controls through direct contact with their representatives a policy we all must strengthen, if we are to bring about CHANGE.

    I watched/listened to the on-line continuation of your discussion with Andrew Bacevich and encourage others to do likewise.

    I wanted to share a couple of thoughts I had in response to this discussion.

    Bacevich talked about the "modernization dilemma" faced by Muslim peoples, and the American lack of recognition of or empathy for anyone who does not welcome or share our perspective and values. It seems to me that we would be able to empathise if we could recognise that an analogous struggle has been taking place here in the US for several decades ampng Christians, as evidenced by the "moral majority" and (social) conservative movements in all of their manifestations; (e.g., home schooling to avoid the corrupting influences of modernity.)

    And, given the resistance shown by these same ("conservative") Americans to "outside interference" from our own Federal Government, I would imagine that if the question could be framed to them, they would empathize with how the average Afghani feels about having another nation invade and occupy his country.

    My mother (born in Buffalo in 1910 of a German heritage) used to tell me how dismayed she felt sitting in her elementary school classroom during WW I as her teacher talked of the evil Germans who bayonet babies. She knew her kind grandpa would never do such a thing. (He was an abolitionist and pacifist.) As the line in the song goes, "we have to be carefully taught to hate."

    Part of our (American) problem with empathising is due to the ease with which we can mentally dismiss the non-English/European peoples of the Middle East, Caspian Basin and Persian Gulf as"others". We also do this with peoples from Central America and the Carribean, so religious differences are not essential to our xenophobia.

    Mr. Bacevich should address the explicable value that always results from these impossible wars: business profits, jobs.
    Plus roughing up the competition.

    Bill Moyers interview with Andrew Bacevich brought to light the non-productivity of this 'longest war in US history' that has no end in sight. However, Bacevich and Bill Moyers miss the mark in concurring that the 9/11 crime was based from Afghanistan.

    The Twin Towers collapsed too rapidly and with too much violence for the NIST explanation (fire) to be even remotely valid; the temperatures attained during the destruction were much too high; the acceleration of the buildings during their collapses was much too smooth. Well over one hundred first responders witnessed explosions at the on-set of the collapses.

    Small chips of nano-thermitic composite materials – a highly sophisticated explosive, has been found and documented by an international team of scientists in large quantities in the dust of the debris at the World Trade Center.

    I hope that Bill Moyers, if he can, will interview Richard Gage, AIA, or other qualified independent researchers, regarding the truth of how 3 buildings were reduced to rubble, especially WTC-7, which shocked our nation and was used to launch deceptive and disastrous wars.

    Fire doesn’t pulverize 90,000 tons of concrete to powder. Explosives do.


    I thank Anna D. (April 10 ) for her comments to my (April 10 ) position regarding adversaries. For clarity I said adversaries (unspecific). I did not refer to poor people, or farmers as you interpreted. They and their children are victims of our adversaries through five times daily brainwashing. Our mutual adversaries could be the leaders of the clerics, highly educated, some at our own universities. Their leaders, brutal and shrewd as they are, know how to use ours and international civil institutions and bend the rules. Examples are our own media, our military, Congress, The Geneva Convention, The Hague, United Nation, The Human Rights, etc., etc.. --- Our adversaries simply have us “over-the-barrel” when it comes to psychological warfare.
    So, after 9 years of warfare we still do not know, or dare to say, who/what is our real adversary in the Middle East. We are broke and bled, and fighting wars we do not understand. Again, thanks for your comments. Nils

    Afghanistan, and to lesser extent Iraq and the Israeli Paestinian conflicts are to me the 21st Century version of the Crusades. = last hundreds of years.
    The problem is todays Media, civil rights movements, UN attitudes Geneva conventions etc all make the wars up to and after Vietnam Militarily alone impossible to fight.
    Todays Taliban/ Al Qaeda/other religious extremist groups target on religious and theologic ( not, please, please, Theocratic) grounds people mny of whom are collateral civilian casualties. But ISAF and US forces must NOT give any collateral damage to civilians to eliminate the enemy!! And Build schools, educate women remove the Burkha and nijab, and provide a " democracy"when religiously the only government that works is democratic but under sharia law!!
    Sorry, go back to the basics of WAR Kill the Taliban and Al Qaeda with the consequent collateral orstop militaryand do it diplomatically and aid wise.
    Afghanistan or Taliban and Al Qaeda or whoever are along way from Nuclear or Biological weapons, moving out militarily removes a huge justification for Jihad
    and currently leaves the MAD option of Bomb us or Bio attack us and wefind the source look out we will be totally MAD!! Just angry,no need for logical justification just like the currentsuicide attacks.
    If the Al Qaeda Shura is in Quetta in Pakistan, why not Bomb it just like London or Dresden or Other military targets in the past.
    The US military is being asked to be warior , charity, and political stabilty agent all in one.
    I find it amusing( in a sick sense that we have some who say " drill baby drill" and maybe kill the planet, but when it comes to Use force of arms to defeat an enemy say Hold up we have rules, that defeat the Military underlying reason for existence.
    PS Believeit or not I oppose war of any kind.


    The US troops in Afghanistan can achieve victory by winning the hearts and minds of its people. The only way to "win" this war is through peace and reconstruction; helping them build a strong army and police via mentorship. This is not a war against Islamic culture or their way of life. The strongest enemy we face on both sides is ignorance.


    Bacevich and Erdrich, another excellent show. Her writing about the pain of being a human expressed how I felt after Bacevich's words about squandering our treasure on war.

    Thank you, Bill Moyers,for introducing us to so many wonderful and amazing human beings, gifted people of heart and passion.Reminding us that we can also be noble, in spite of what most tv would have us believe, and in spite of the many horrible realities in our world. You and your guests are a ray of hope.

    Thank you, Bill,for all your years of truth telling and excellence in journalism. I love your show. The depth, conversation, respect, and art you bring to television is nowhere else to be found. And your personal eloquence as a speaker, your dignity and intelligence is unique too. You are not replaceable. David Brancacchio and Maria Hinajosa are good. Jon Stewart is brilliant. But you have a great integrity and dedication of mind and heart that's incomparable. It's a special talent and purpose, that you have so graciously shared. You've given so much of yourself. You've earned retirement. Still, so many people love you and your show.It's the only show I watch every week. If I'm out, I record it. It validates who I am, someone in the US media cares about things I care about. Like all of your viewers, I will miss you greatly when you retire.
    til then, see you next time.

    Nine years later most everyone, including Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich, keep insisting that Afghanistan is the culprit for the heinous crime of 9/11. Not a shred of evidence has surfaced proving this act. Yet we nonchalantly invade two sovereign countries and kill millions while those individuals behind all this are laughing all the way to the bank.
    However we DO have evidence that 9/11 was an inside job and the clamoring for a new 9/11 commission lands on seemingly deaf ears. When is the citizenry going to WAKE UP?

    Nine years later most everyone, including Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich, keep insisting that Afghanistan is the culprit for the heinous crime of 9/11. Not a shred of evidence has surfaced proving this act. Yet we nonchalantly invade two sovereign countries and kill millions while those individuals behind all this are laughing all the way to the bank.
    However we DO have evidence that 9/11 was an inside job and the clamoring for a new 9/11 commission lands on seemingly deaf ears. When is the citizenry going to WAKE UP?

    Why does Bill Moyers keep saying that we are in Afghanistan to support Karzai? We are not there by his request -- we installed Karzai there. I am not saying that he is completely a puppet, but his agenda is different from ours. It should be clear to anyone who followed the Obama administration's strategy review that Karzai's opinion was hardly the driver of U.S. policymaking.

    Karzai is maintaining relative independence from the U.S. because we are so unpopular in his country, but at the same time trying to suck as many resources out of the billions the U.S. is throwing around for as long as he can.

    But for God's sake Bill, wake up. America is not there for Karzai, or for the Afghans. Reasonable theories about why we are there include: to fight an endless war on terror (oxymoron), to build pipelines, to build bases to control Central Asia and confront China and Russia, to control the opium trade, to fight any war at all to promote military contracts, or simply to maintain our pride so we won't have to admit that we are powerless to control Afghanistan -- but we are not there to support Karzai or the Afghans. We are there for our own reasons.

    Only the American voter can change the course their country is persuing at present. This war based economy is bound to fail simply because other nations also need resources and will fight for them until the world will look like Europe or Japan in 1945.

    The USA got off light in that particular mess but not so in the next. Sure the ones who make all the money fom war will be long gone to same safe haven like they always do but the rest will suffer terribly.

    Wake up America, please before it's too late.

    I admire Mr. Bacevich for his courage. When you have come to the table with a military background like Mr. Bacevich, it is counter to all you have learned to speak truth to power. I think this is a large part of the conflict we suffer from within. When our nation holds such a position in our upbringing, it takes a great amount of courage to stand back and away from the nation which has become so much of your identity. Courage and the will to use it is exactly what the people of this nation have lost and without that, there is place to reach for that NO, that is necessary to stop what is wrong and then say yes to what is right. The wars we are involved in as a nation currently are acts of cowardice in respect to what I have stated. We cannot succeed without courage and the will to act out what we reason beyond the strongest voices.

    Over the years I’ve heard several clever statements on the Journal, but my all time favorite, by far, was back in ’08 by Mr. Bacevich:

    Sometime around the 1960s there was a tipping point, when the "empire of production" began to become the "empire of consumption." When the cars started to be produced elsewhere, and the television sets, and the socks, and everything else. And what we ended up with was the American people becoming consumers rather than producers.

    The way I see it, this is exactly what is wrong with today’s economy. A couple years ago, most mortgage defaults were directly related to the subprime mess, but today, most defaults are directly related to this production-to-consumption shift.


    Here’s a short video by Cenk from theyoungturks*. It talks about how our young voters are seeing change we can believe in as yada, yada, yada.

    *a news organization with no corporate slant, at least as of today

    I would like to add my name to those that hope that Bill will reconcider and stay on. As to the comments, most where right on target, that we are enmeshed in a military/industrial complex that is enhanced by a subservient media.


    Posted by: Guinzo

    Well, you can't "appease" or "compromise".

    Psychos and sociopaths LOVE the POWER.

    I guess "we" have to win the psychobabble skirmish.

    I'm going to start with testing what is in the booze these days...CSI would do that also, huh?

    Hatred, carefully cultivated for thousands of years, ALWAYS turns "venomous" when the truth can't be denied.

    Drink up...

    Agree with everyone that pointed to the economic explanation for why we continue this insanity. A friend had a small sign up in his PT clinic. "when something seems inexplicable, look for the economic explanation' Or as Deep Throat put it, follow the money.

    re the GWOT, it is a battle for hearts and minds against medieval thinking. It cannot and will not be won be reverting to medieval tactics ie war ourselves.

    Andrew Bacevich is my hero among all conservatives, about my only one. But it's becoming more difficult to be enthusiastic about the left as well when there is so little difference.

    Our industrial/military complex continues to call the shots and exact trillions from our GDP. Fighting a religious culture that abhors western civilization will be endless and futile. The USA needs to declare victory in the Middle East and leave. The martyrs who attacked us on 9/11 could as well have been white anarchists from Michigan. If the Afghans want change - they'll foment it from within. Same for Iraq and Iran. Our troops are dying for nothing. The only winners are military supply contractors. These old West Pointers fight for tradition's sake.

    NO; they can only retreat (LEAVE) because Just Like RAYGUN in Lebanon after BERUIT; It's Their HOMELAND (and Mog-at-issue and da 'Nam)! Why is Ronnie Republican always given a pass on these retreats, even by those as observant as you and Bacevich?

    The war in Afghanistan has claimed more than one thousand American lives. It's costing American taxpayers over three-and-a-half billion dollars every month—a total of some $264 billion so far.
    "Well, we don't learn from history. And there is this persistent, and I think almost inexplicable belief that the use of military force in some godforsaken country on the far side of the planet will not only yield some kind of purposeful result, but by extension, will produce significant benefits for the United States. I mean, one of the obvious things about the Afghanistan war that is so striking and yet so frequently overlooked is that we're now in the ninth year of this war."Andrew Bacevich, a professor at Boston University and former U.S. Army Colonel
    America's trying to remake the world in its own image with its own form of government, but different peoples and nations simply need different forms of government. It was the Americans who prolonged the war in Afghanistan that killed tens of thousands of people, and they're still prolonging the war against the legitimate government of Afghanistan! They're still arming the rebels to the teeth, who are still slaughtering thousands of people. The U.S. is responsible for that war!

    In one of the great ironies of history, almost completely lost, none other than Ronald Reagan told this joke on the campaign trail in 1980:

    How can you tell the Polak at a cockfight?

    He brings the duck.

    How can you tell the Mafia is involved?

    The Duck WINS!

    Ignoring the firestorm of ethnic indignance, there is truth there.

    Commentator after commentator, well meaning and without a particular axe to grind or standard to wave, comes to the same question: How can our leaders support, no - push actively such folly?

    Are they "mad"? "Stupid"? "Fools"? "Knaves"?

    As my father, the Normandy vet, would say, C'mon, wise up!

    This game is fixed, people. The military industrial complex is our precious way of life that we are constantly goaded to defend. Our manufacturing has fled, except that which is dedicated to the business of war. If you map federal deficits vs DOD spending over the last 50 years, they track nearly 1 to 1. When Mr. Obama asks us to make budget cuts, we are encouraged to cut discretionary spending - as long as it's not military. He gets health care, and a stimulus, and a bank bailout, maybe even financial reform and aid to mortgagees. BUT - he sure didn't get Guantanamo, now, did he? And Afghanistan not only trucks along, it is RAMPED UP. Hmmm...

    We sweat the prospect of the cost of health care - 900 billion over ten years! Yeah? So what? CHUMP CHANGE compared with the DOD budget of THIS YEAR ALONE - 765 billion with Iraq, Afghanistan and nukes. ONE YEAR.

    As Jesus said, Where your heart is, there also will your treasure be. IN our case, the opposite it true as well - where our treasure is, there also will our heart be.

    War is our National Industrial Policy. War is our way of life. War is our role in the global economy. War is what we do.

    We will, we CAN, accomplish NOTHING until we can figure out how to change that.


    I have watched Bill Moyers' programs religiously since the first days of “NOW.”
    Needless to say, I am very disappointed to hear of his upcoming retirement.

    That said, watching last night's interviews I couldn't help thinking how the journalism seems to have morphed from hard-hitting to gentle-nudging.

    It's always good to hear dissenting views such as Andrew Bacevich's, but can he really believe that winning is the U.S. goal in Afghanistan? It's not about winning; it's about
    being at war. That's what the U.S. does. It fights wars wherever people resist U.S. primacy and are unwilling to just hand over their resources without a fight. It kills and maims innocent people along with resistance fighters. It lays ruin to whole countries and cultures when they try to hang on to what they have for their own use.

    "The long war" is now U.S. policy. The U.S. is on a permanent war footing with a
    war-based economy and hundreds of military bases around the world. The wars generate vast profits for the military-industrial complex and its investors.

    People aren't our enemies just because they prefer to manage their own lives and resources. The U.S. is their enemy because it covets those resources and wants to control them. WE
    are the enemy, not them. This is the evil empire. We live in the belly of the beast.

    Now Bacevich seems to be laying the groundwork for "peace with honor" -- now that the U.S. has laid waste to the country. The war is "unwinnable." It was "a mistake." It
    sounds like Vietnam all over again. We didn't lose there, either; we virtually destroyed the country, such that it took a generation to recover. Our beloved nation suffered no
    physical damage, except for the thousands upon thousands of hapless soldiers whose lives
    we sacrificed to show the world our destructive power.

    Bacevich is certainly right about withdrawing our forces ASAP. But given what we've done, honor isn't in the cards.

    Nils opined, in part, "We do not understand our adversaries’ culture and language. They understand ours."

    They do?! You mean the dirt poor farmer growing grain in Afghanistan has had access to the internet in the past 100 years to read all about what individual fruit loop bloggers have to say about "history"?

    Who knew they knew ALL about us...kinda like I know everything about you and vice-versa?

    Yes, credible reports say that U.S. soldiers bound and slaughtered two pregnant women, a young girl and an old man. But a word is missing. Shouldn't it read "bound, RAPED and slaughtered?"

    Why has no one, so far as I know, publicly stated what seems patently obvious? Those women were almost certainly bound, raped, then killed and crudely "sanitized" in a failed attempt to cover up the crime of rape.

    CSI would have taken vaginal swabs, run DNA tests and quickly fingered the guilty.

    The military may do another sham investigation but don't expect rape to be "on the table.

    Homer's Iliad begins with the wrath of Achilles, the fiery war speeches in the tenth year of the war of the Greeks upon the Trojans.

    The great epic ends in mourning with the retrieval of the body of Trojan Hector by his father Priam:

    " ...and they drove their horses on to the city with lamentation
    and clamour , while the mules drew the body. Nor was any other
    aware of them at first, no man, no fair-girdled woman,
    only Kassandra, a girl like Aphrodite the golden,
    who had gone up to the height of the Pergamos. She saw
    her dear father standing in the chariot, his herald and crier
    with him. She saw Hektor, drawn by the mules on a litter.
    She cried out then in sorrow and spoke to the entire city:

    'Come men of Troy and Trojan women; look upon Hektor
    if ever before you were joyful when you saw him come back living
    from battle; for he was a great joy to his city, and all his people.'

    She spoke, and there was no man left there in all the city
    nor woman, but all were held in sorrow passing endurance."

    I viewed the broadcast interview on Friday night, and am so taken by it that I watched the rest of the interview this morning on-line.

    I marched in protests about the war in Vietnam; I marched in protest to the invasion of Iraq. All this because I did not believe that war is an option among "civilized" peoples.

    I had not, until now, considered the proposition that, without a draft, the military has become professional, and therefore is an entity unto and by itself, to be revered and followed almost without regard to the outcomes of its activities since WWII, the last time we battled, in a bona fide war, enemies who were other nations that threatened our "way of life" and that of our allies.

    Mr. Bacevich has opened my eyes. At the risk of being labeled an isolationist, heedless of the woes of people who live beyond our borders, I am coming around to the "worldview" that democracy is not exportable to people whose religious and philosophical mores have conditioned them to other forms of government.

    At the risk of sounding naive, I say we should seriously consider supporting the role of the hundreds of NGO's to provide education, sanitation, self sustainability of agriculture and local economies and good environmental practices instead of troops on the ground as our first response to aggression.

    I hope that Mr. Bacevich's views have been transmitted to the Obama administration, and that his conclusions will be seriously considered.

    Oh, Bill, what will we do without you?

    Past history is teaching us about possibilities which
    may happen or may not in the future, sorry for being
    so trivial. But..., do not feel discouraged, please stay
    with me..., you may learn something.

    Let’s try to take an example of (Great) Britain from
    the WWI and WWII time, or even from Napoleonic
    wars. This example may or may not be instructive to
    US of A today, in its dealings in Afghanistan.

    WWI was politically an incredibly sophisticated event
    which supposed to delay decline of British empire.
    Brits were trying to provide reason to competitors
    to destroy ...themselves. This was not about
    Sarajevo, of course, the reason of the war was
    growing industrial power of Germany.
    That’s why destruction of German industrial potential
    was the imperative for the Brits.
    So, Germans were manoeuvred into war with France
    and eventually almost with whole Europe, not
    necessarily by own desire. Lenin was dispatched
    (by Germans) to Russia, in the meantime, to destroy
    Russian Empire by ... the revolutionary means.

    WWII it was the British masterpiece put into action
    again; Nazi Germany, against this time, Soviet
    Russia, sacrifying (unintentionally?) a few minors
    like Czechoslovakia and Poland. This time, however,
    Germans were quite clear aggressor, of course.
    As we know the things were not going precisely
    to this scenario.

    Brits were the masters in deception and masters
    in perfectly economical thinking, and like Duke
    of Wellington defeated, defeated earlier Napoleon
    by Russians (remember Borodino), at Waterloo;
    they followed this line trough history.
    Brits knew when and how to hit the enemy..., well,

    The British wisdom was always effective - fight to
    the last “foreign” soldier (Polish, Ghurkha, Indian,
    etc., as during WWII) -, and, whenever possible,
    benefit from the spoils. This tactics allowed for one
    more century to keep Britain as a major player
    in the world affairs.

    So, what is the lesson to learn for USA?

    First, “bomb them into democracy” and then “win
    their hearts and minds” – this seems to be essence
    of the Orwellian strategy in Afghanistan.
    Yes, it looks amazingly simple and ...incredibly stupid...

    The British genius of deception is missing from the
    American thinking. How unexplainably sad...

    The expectations that actual strategy may work are
    questioned by many, even by those with a humble
    sophistication level earned in good ...parochial

    The US empire, after all, is protecting its world
    dominance positioning itself figuratively between two
    other powers China and Russia – this seems to be
    one of the leading arguments of our presence in
    Is it a strong enough argument?
    Can it really fly?
    Whom are we trying to intimidate?

    Unless, the British way, we want to put into conflict
    ....China and Russia or... China and India.
    What do you think?

    This war cannot be won, let’s get out of this mess,

    Let’s start building schools there or even better
    here in the USA - this country was never meant
    to be an empire.

    Rolland Norman

    This dialogue, which seems so well thought out, and comes from an extraordinary depth of experience, is disingenuous. There is a powerful force in our country that REQUIRES endless war. The arms manufacturers, hello!
    It is so obvious, any schoolchild knows. When looking for the culprit of an unsolved crime, check for the kid with the biggest smile. SOME are happy that the war continues.

    Upon the question of being overoptimistic, the exaggeration of results happens at every level of the command chain as this is the way towards promotion as well as to satisfy immediate superiors who then themselves exaggerate- thus by the time reports reach the JCoS they bear no relation to the reality- this may go some way towards explaining Obamas optimism

    I am dreading your leave-taking, Mr. Moyers. You are one of the very few voices of sanity on the airwaves. Your guests need to have a forum and there will be none for them after you leave.

    Reading all the comments was as encouraging as listenin to the voice of reason, i.e. Col Bacevich. IJUST HOPE THAT ALL THE COMMENTATOR ARE SENDING LIKE MESSAGES TO THEIR CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS. I know, I know... the lobbies, the money. But we have the VOTES(!) and our representatives know that. And, of course, thanks again, Bill Moyers.

    The only Way to win a war is to end it. Perhaps our Commander and Chief is a loser rather than a winner, and then so are they as so are we all.


    What about the nukes next door? Doesn't our presence in Afghanistan prevent extremists from getting their hands on them?

    I served in the British Army for 25 years, I was deluded about our aims, I too thought Empire was a just entity, how wrong I was.

    Your guest mentioned 911 and added "we were attacked " when nothing could be further from the truth, there were no hijackers and the official story of that crime was impossible. Stop being either lazy or American and look at the facts. The two aircraft which were supposed to have hit the towers couldn't because they just couldn't reach the speed required, they couldn't get from a position indicated by the FDR to the towers. Flight 77 couldn't have hit the Pentagon, that aircraft flew over so a missile or some other object hit the Pentagon.

    I know this and millions throughout the world know it so why deceive yourselves with this hijacking we were attacked nonsense.

    I mention 911 because it was from that crime that the Bush administration justified an attack on Iraq and Afghanistan. These two attacks were also enormous crimes carried out with such venom and loss of life that only an independant body could possibly try the criminals responsible.

    When I read about US helicopter operatives shooting and murdering innocent people in Iraq armed with nothing but a camera. When I hear about American special forces shooting pregnant women then cutting out the evidence I feel ill.

    These thugs you've let loose all over the world Mr and Mrs America you didn't, because you couldn't know what the result would be but Vietnam should have given you a clue.

    Iraq is now a lawless society and so is Afghanistan.

    In my opinion, no US soldier should be involved in ANY land-war in the world, unless several other countries are contributing most of the soldiers. Hence we should get out of both Iraq and Afghanistan, despite perceived consequences. If their neighbors and Europe think it is unwise to send their sons and criticize us, why should we, oceans away, spill blood and go bankrupt in the process ? Results are anti-Americanism by friends and foes alike, and it impacts US business.
    These wars are religious wars, not conventional wars. (Geneva Convention is not meant to apply when soldier enemies wear no uniforms. Women and children set off bombs.) These wars are a continuation of over a thousand year old RELIGIOUS WARFARE where brutal mullahs rule with PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE INCLUDING TERROR as today. The battleground is not on the fields. No, the battles are INSIDE THEIR HEADS AS WELL AS INSIDE OUR HEADS. (The Danish cartoon is showing the way how to use psychology towards Islamic reform; a slow process. The equally brutal Christian clerics were tamed 500 years ago)
    Even if the public had supported the Iraq & Afghanistan wars, these wars, in my opinion, are executed very clumsy; --- like an elephant in a China shop. We do not understand our adversaries’ culture and language. They understand ours. Let us get out, and stop entry of that culture into our country.

    To Mugsy,

    The gist of the interview, i believe, was by "not quitting now WILL embolden the enemy worse," not the other way around. Get it? The sooner we get out of the quagmire, the better we will be off, because taking a war to a foreign land is old school belonging to the likes of Dick and George.

    Three billion dollars a month will help our own economy: how can you fight a war when your own house in on fire?


    Dear Bill,

    I believe Mr. Bacevich is correct in his assessment. War has become a permanent endeavour, basically a career. If you are a professional warrior, you need a war now and then to justify your existence. And just like any other lobby group in Washington, you want your allocation of public funds. So you have to convince the public that there is a need for more money and that your cause is righteous. The ends justify the means.

    Putting that idea aside, I think the real problem is one of propaganda and the desire to control the hearts and minds of the American public by the government regime in power. There is a good 6 part series on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called Love, Hate and Propaganda, which explains how propaganda was used to control the public perception in World War II. A lot of people were misled by propaganda. I believe government regimes are still manipulating the public. The Nazi propaganda machine convinced the German people to be anti-Semitic during the Second World War. Their goal was to control public opinion. Japanese propaganda tried to convince their people that they were winning the war. A lot of effort was spent creating a belief in their ‘culture’ and their divine right to victory. Even American propaganda used films and news to depict the Japanese as less than human, to be eradicated. All regimes can convince the public that war is necessary. We are not a free and tolerant society anymore. Many industries spend a great deal of money on lobbying and advertising to distort the truth about health care, global warming, terrorism, etc. Truth in the media is hard to find. I believe this to be the real danger. We don’t know when we are being manipulated.

    When someone like Andrew Bacevich comes along and states the facts as he sees them, it is like Galileo stating that the earth revolves around the sun. It is a total anathema to the regime in power that wants to control the minds of the public. I am sure Mr. Bacevich will be insulted and shunned for saying what he has to say, but he isn’t the first person to say it.

    “The idea of achieving security through national armament is, at the present state of military technique, a disastrous illusion”. – Albert Einstein from Ideas and Opinions (1954)

    When a regime is faced with the choice of trying to achieve military victory or changing their mind, history tells us what will happen. As Mr. Bacevich puts it, we don’t learn from history.

    “Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. “ - John Kenneth Galbraith

    Let’s hope that the public is getting wiser and has the maturity to listen to what others like Mr. Bacevich have to say. There are those who I suspect want to shut him up. But at the end of the day, we all know that Galileo was right. Sadly, it only took 400 years before some people actually admitted it. I hope we don’t have to wait that long to decide on the right course of action.

    Alvin Hofer says: Obama is a knave. A fool? That he may be as well, but he is a knave for a certainty.

    Thank you Alvin D Hofer. You’ve hit the knave and the fool (he assuredly is that, no maybe about it) on his head, figuratively anyway. Obama is a murderous fool, inept and apparently incapable of learning.

    Philip Feinstein says: As long as there is no DRAFT most Americans don’t give a shit about our imperial wars.

    And thank you, Philip. When the all volunteer army was first touted I had no doubt but that the U.S. would be engaged in endless wars. Had there been a draft in place – a truly no exemption draft – the U.S. might never have invaded Iraq or Afghanistan in the first place. Certainly it would not have remained there nine years and running.

    But common sense is rare. Andrew Bacevich has it. If only we could get rid of Obama and put Mr. Bacevich in his place.

    Three things - a speedy return to the draft, term limits for Congress (just as there is for the President), and legalization of drugs - would put this mortally ill country on the road to healing itself.

    Sanford Russell, Korean War Vet

    Dear Bill,

    How surprising to witness the Collective American Amnesia and Myth making arriving at the Bill Moyers Journal. Colonel Bacevichpresented many fascinating and some dubious assertions. I believe you should have brought the conversation back to the anatomy of how we got to where we are.

    McCrystal’s report calling for 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan being leaked to the press, the political Right’s calling to embrace and implement it immediately, Obama reflecting on it for weeks and ultimately agreed to 75 % of it with caveat that by mid 2011 we were leaving no matter what. Also, you could have shown footage of military high commanders Portreus, McCrystal, Mullin all at confirmations or before Congressional committees saying these wars cannot be won militarily alone; there needs to be a political piece for the peace to stick. Your guest said this too. I believe you should have reminded guest and listener of these facts.

    I believe, what we are witnessing is the political aspect of Afghanistan falter and begin its disintegration which by 2011 will give American military and American political cover to say we tried, the cooperation wasn’t there, time to unwind. McCrystal sitting shoulder to shoulder with Karzai witnessing Karsai saying we will only come after the Taliban once they have had time to dissolve into the landscape is pure Afghan tactics 101. Sarah Chayes alludes to all this in her book Punishment of Virtue. The Khandahar battle will determine the rest.

    So we spend 2 years more at $ 3 billion a month to get to 2011. That’s the price to prove to the Right who are so convinced that sheer might and willfulness on the part of the U.S. can yield a political victory through military means. It can’t.

    To me, President Obama is playing a masterful somewhat crafty political game of inching forward while trying to get to the desired goal: peace and us out without losing substantial political support at home.

    Paul Seligson
    Newtown Square, PA

    If America was ever invaded and occupied by another country, we ourselves would become terrorists just like the people of other countries have become terrorists from the invasions and occupations of them.


    We are on the road to hell!

    The colonel wasn't asked about
    the cause of secularization of America, i.e. the separation of church and state, and the consequent pragmatism in politics. He averred that this hasn't happened in the Islamic world, and that we cannot make it happen. Ergo, "let Islam be Islam". I think this proposition is questionable. If, as it may be the case in Iran, people's appetite for freedom and access to information gains traction
    (among the educated class), then there too, Islam may
    become secular. Look at China, still ruled by communist ideology, but now
    operating with a capitalist economy. The world is changing!

    The colonel wasn't asked about
    the cause of secularization of America, i.e. the separation of church and state, and the consequent pragmatism in politics. He averred that this hasn't happened in the Islamic world, and that we cannot make it happen. Ergo, "let Islam be Islam". I think this proposition is questionable. If, as it may be the case in Iran, people's appetite for freedom and access to information gains traction
    (among the educated class), then there too, Islam may
    become secular. Look at China, still ruled by communist ideology, but now
    operating with a capitalist economy. The world is changing!

    Not devoid of strategic purpose. It is the TAP pipeline to be running from the Caspian Sea, through Turknemistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan ending at the Arabian Sea, and this is an intense resource conflict as Russia and China also want the resource. Please prove to me that this is incorrect......

    As a combat veteran of WW II,
    I can attest to the madness and futility of war and
    strongly support the immediate withdrawal of all our troops from the Middle East. Instead of sending more troops at a cost of $1 million per trooper per year, send money to rebuild infrastructure, buy the hearts and minds of the Afghanistanis with potable water, sewers, schools, hospitals, streets, seeds, pharaceuticals, farm equipment--everything they need to make life bearable and send these gifts without conditions but with love.

    Americans honor swagger and bravado. Why are we surprised when politicians and the military put those values into action?

    "What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
    - Mahatma Gandhi

    This makes so much sense to me. What does it take to convince Congress and the White House?

    As long as there is no DRAFT most Americans dont give a sh** about our imperial wars.


    Is that so hard???

    What Becevich hinted at was that this attack on other countries, just feeds on recruitment for more Al'Quaeda terrorists. The reason our govt. feels so threatened by attacks, is because we've invaded countries that don't want us in their lives, but being the IMPERIALIST govt. that we are, we are just so arrogant to believe that our way is the best way, we can't see the forest through the trees. Becevich is right--the American people go about their lives, watching American news, and they have no idea that what we're doing, going into unjustified wars, is wrong!

    Our President, the question begs to be answered, is he a fool or a knave?

    If the war were the only factor that is contributing to the destruction of our nation, the question would be simpler to answer: Obama, like Lyndon Johnson before him, is a fool.

    The fact is that in almost every decision Obama has taken in foreign policy and domestically, he has taken the easy course, to please the special interests who benefit from it: the military-industrial complex, multinational banks and insurance companies, private health-insurers and big pharma, nuclear power advocates, coal mining interests, agra-business, .... The choices he made are not just foolish, but they are designed to win favor among interests with enormous financial resources. They are purposeful.

    Conclusion: Obama is a knave. A fool? That he may be as well, but he is a knave for a certainty.

    When I heard Bacevich's account on Bill Moyer's Journal, I went through the roof. I was incensed that he spoke of Special Forces and the officers group but never said, "CIA." The Special Forces are CIA. They are not Army, Navy, or Air Force. In fact the CIA has drones in the air that are armed.
    The Air Force drones in the air are NOT armed. The CIA carries out military operations and are the ones killing civilians not the military. And Bacevich lied when he would not tell it on the Journal.

    Have we so soon forgotten the Afghan women being shot in football stadiums by the Taliban because they disobeyed their husbands? Have we fotgotten the teachers shot in front of their students by the Taliban because they dared to teach girls? Afghanistan had been a moderate Islamic country for centuries until WE allowed the Taliban to take over by walking away from the support we promised to the Northern Alliance (that was Cheney under Bush I). We are the ones who allowed the Taliban to take over and bring horrors to Afghanistan, and now The Army Colonel thinks it's O.K. to do it again? How proud he will be of our country's efforts in the world when the women are once again shot under their burqas in public stadiums for speaking. At some point, when we promise that we will support a people who are struggling to hold on to their traditional culture (the Taliban is not traditionally Afghan)we should for once keep our word.

    Andrew Bacevich, Christopher Hedges ("Empire of Illusion"), and Sheldon Wolin ("Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism"), along with many, many others clearly see that the use and abuse of the US military are being directed toward extending the death-spiral of a guileful and covert ruling-elite global corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE which now almost fully controls 'our' former country, by hiding behind the facade of a modernized TWO-PARTY 'Vichy' sham of faux democratic government which is orders of magnitude more subtle and disguised than the crude single party facade of 'Vichy' France that the Nazi Empire established as a ruse for its imperial arrgression.

    Not only that, but this far more dangerous global 21st century Empire is the singular causation of "collateral damage" on only at the 'tip of its spear' in the oil territories "abroad", but also 'collateral damage', in the form of economic oppression, civil injustices, and nearing police-state tyranny "at home" in America.

    As Hannah Arendt presciently warned of the Nazi Empire, "Empire abroad (always) entails tyranny at home".

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine

    Thank you Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich for having the courage and honesty to discuss America's tragic folly. This time, it is in Afghanistan and Iraq, before it was Vietnam and Korea. Will there be a next time?

    Two things stood out from the interview: 1. Americans do not seem to care that lives and money are being wasted in needless wars, and 2. We don't seem to be able to learn from history.

    These are not only tragic, but for a society, they are suicidal. If we do not care enough to learn from the past, we will not survive.

    Thank you for reminding us.

    Bacevich is a voice of common sense and rationality. I echo Ms. Quin's comment, "I wish our President would listen to Mr. Bacevich." There has been perhaps a respectful quiet and restraint from the people and the media to question and critique President Obama's decisions regarding the war in Afghanistan. I have found myself increasingly frustrated and grieved by his decisions, and disappointed as an ardent supporter of President Obama's campaign and election. I am restless and becoming a more active voice in speaking out against continuing what seem to be the former administration's direction with this "war."

    Has anyone considered either the effect of not fighting Al Quaeda would have on them or the world? If we could just fight with aid, schools, assistance like in "3 cups of Tea" maybe we'd really be admired & helped by the rest of the world and Al Quaeda wouldn't hold so much weight in the world.

    I definitely agree with Bill's guest. The only thing that I have read recemtly that I thought was meaningful for our leaders in Afganistan is that they all need to read the two books by Greg Mortenson and his air to educate the women and boys of Afganistan and Pakistan. We are never going to win a victory militarily. And we might as well start now to pull out of the country and put the rigt kind of leaders into the country who can help to further the education. The taliban will lose if they are against educated people who feel that they have something to contribute to the freedom of their country.

    Thank you Andrew Bacevich,for telling the
    truth about this long futile war in Afghanistan. When will our President and
    our Military leaders see the light that there
    is no military solution to this war. We have wasted so much BLOOD and TREASURE
    and we have made more enemies in this
    part of the world. When will it end???????

    I have known since 9/11 that we cannot defeat the enemy by attacking countries. The war is different today, we must make it difficult for them to exist anywhere by joining forces with other countries to make our world as safe as we can. I'm a grandmother with a grandson in Afghanistan and I am so scared for him, I live on pins & needles worrying about his safety. I also know that we steal from all our needs in this country when we spend our $$$$ to wage war. We need so much in this country.

    Thank you so much for once again having Andrew Bacevich on your show. I believe he has a much clearer perspective of what is going on with the never ending wars.
    The Afghan war just like the Iraq is a noose around our own neck. Despite what it might do for the business of defense it will emotionally, spiritually and economically eventually destroy our own nation. It is a war with absolutely no purpose but for the profit of business.

    What a wellspoken wise man. This is exactly what we need, someone who can reflect from the Vietnam lessons to now, and actually give us:"We just don't learn froms history." I too hope that Obama listened to this show. It will be almost impossible to turn around.
    We are seeing the exact scenario envisioned by the peace advocates of the 1990's----1. We don't know what we are dealing with. 2. War on the ground will exacerbate the formation of terrorism against us, through the inevitable civilian damage. 3. The initiating of war in Iraq against nation states with innocent civilans will spread the dandelion seed pod of terrorism all over the world just as if we hit that pod with a solid gold driver.
    Would that the lessons of Vietnam were a part of our nation's soul.

    LStephen Cain

    While I agree with Mr. Bacevich, he was not asked the obvious question that the opposition would naturally jump upon if we were to leave Afghanistan abruptly:

    "Wouldn't 'quitting' embolden the enemy?"

    The risk of Islamic militants viewing an American exit without achieving a specific goal as a "retreat" is certain. Al Qaeda still believes to this day that THEY alone were responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union.

    If we are to exit Afghanistan, we need to PUBLICLY DECLARE a small, easily achievable goal... such as capturing or killing a specific target... declaring "victory", and leaving... appeasing critics while depriving "the enemy" of a "victory". Politically, we cannot simply "leave" without cause.

    Moyers guest is correct and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know why the US stays involved with these wars, now the longest war in US History, ever! Follow the money is a sound description to investigation of this war and the scum that promotes it. Ignorant slaves known as soldiers fight without a moral compass because someone with more bars tells them its for god, country and apple pie. Soldiers should be required to question every order given, not accept because of some military quote of follow orders or men die. This BS is just that, but guess what, the proponents of war are making megabucks,a nd the ignorant, because of their incapacity to think, love them, not unlike the "stockholm" syndrome. It is a sickness the human element suffers, and that is sacrifice whether or not it is right or wrong.

    I agree that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won through military means. However, if we put a fraction of that money and build schools and public services for the Afghan people, we have a better chance of winning friends and strengthening allies than pouring endless amount of money in a military conflict that cannot be won. No country in the history of Afghanistan ever won there.

    Afghan people need schools and industry infrastructure to get away from drug production and the Taliban.

    it was so good to see Andrew Bacevich again on the show...he gives credence to the lessons of history, a credence that, for some reason, others eschew. oh wait, i guess i can think of a few hundred billion reasons.
    but to tell truth, i think the best part of the show was to see him smile. :)

    I doubt that there are many if indeed any insiders with a better perspective than Mr. Bacevich; having read two of his more recent books, I would recommend his writings to any one interested in advancing his/her insights as to how to extricate ourselves from this quagmire.
    I deduced from the earliest moves towards war that it would be to our own detriment becasue we were so utterly ignorant of the 'enemy's custom, had no idea of the tenacity of their reliosity, and presumed that military 'shock and aw' was the means twoards revenge. What did we get for this adventure but double the loss of life of 9/11, billions of $$ of debt, and the hatred of the entire Arab/ Islamic world. What a heritage, thanks, to our dependence to a military panacea.

    Bacevich and I have always seen eye-to-eye. People reading the Charlie Rose blog will know that I've written a lot comparing Karzai to Diem, but his recent nonsense surprised even me in its conceit so close is it to the events of 1960-3. McChrystal is clearly something of a ringer, a Special Ops guy never previously interested in counter-insurgency, except perhaps to assassinate guerrillas. I do not know how far up the chain of command this goes, but I fear that, as in health care, it shows an inability of the admin to make up its mind. Between Karzai and the president there seems to be a whole lot of self-delusion going on.

    As I watched Andrew Bacevich I wondered if anyone in government or the military have listened to or read him. "The Limits of Poer" clearly states the foolish reality of our approach to terrorism and nations we don't like. Bacevich's comments about the "long war" Remind me of "1984." We are there in this new national security state.

    Our enemies are already emboldened and become increasingly so the longer we remain in this country and kill its people. It is time to get out NOW for all the reasons stated by Mr. Bacevich.

    Excellent program and the first person I've heard who makes sense re: the Afghanistan War. I wish our President would listen to Mr. Bacevich.

    Post a comment

    THE MOYERS BLOG is our forum for viewers' comments intended for discussing and debating ideas and issues raised on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. THE MOYERS BLOG invites you to share your thoughts. We are committed to keeping an open discussion; in order to preserve a civil, respectful dialogue, our editors reserve the right to remove or alter any comments that we find unacceptable, for any reason. For more information, please click here.

    A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

    Your Comments


    THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

    Click to subscribe in iTunes

    Subscribe with another reader

    Get the vodcast (help)

    For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

    © Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ