I think we can all draw lessons from this article written by Mr Robert F. Dorr:
Learning to live within our means
Radical cuts to defense spending are only way, retired Army col. says
By Robert F. Dorr
Andrew J. Bacevich thinks the U.S. has it all wrong about national security and the way it uses its armed forces.
If he could change foreign policy, the international relations and history professor would scale defense back — way back.
Bacevich, though, comes with more than just book smarts to question American military power, which he does eloquently in a new book titled “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.”
He graduated from West Point in 1969 and rose to the rank of colonel before he retired after more than two decades in the Army. And his son, 1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, made the ultimate sacrifice, killed more than three years ago by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Bacevich, understandably, opposes the Iraq war. But his criticism dates back to the beginning of the conflict, not his son’s death.
In his new book, discussing the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Bacevich writes of “the folly and hubris of policymakers who needlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended ‘global war on terror’ without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost.”
Bacevich’s strong words, his concern that the U.S. military is “configured not for defense but for global power projection” would be easy to dismiss if he didn’t have so much knowledge and experience.
In an Oct. 1 interview, Bacevich described himself as “frustrated by a national security debate that avoids the big question and preoccupies itself with the trivial.”
For 50 years, under presidents of both parties, U.S. foreign policy has been rooted in what Bacevich calls a “sacred trinity” of goals — a global military presence, global power projection and a policy of global interventionism — that have little to do with defense.
Bacevich wants the U.S. to reassess its approach to the world, reject militarism and acknowledge that “fixing Detroit should take precedence over fixing Afghanistan.”
“The big question is learning to live within our means,” Bacevich said. “We are overextended. We have a $1.3 trillion federal deficit this year alone.”
Bacevich pointed out that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “is on record as saying the size of the national debt poses the greatest threat to our country.”
Bacevich wants to slash costly overseas bases and stop intervening every time a hot spot flares up somewhere in the world. The threat of Jihadism, he believes, can be managed with smaller forces than the U.S. is using now.
President Obama, according to Bacevich, asked the right questions about Afghanistan but didn’t get good answers from the deeply entrenched Washington bureaucracy.
“Our interests in Afghanistan are very limited and can be satisfied if that country will not again become a haven for terrorists,” Bacevich said.
Bacevich is right. There is something un-American about maintaining a huge presence around the world and pursuing endless war without sharp focus or clear goals.
Read the full article here.
Dorr is an Air Force veteran, retired U.S. diplomat, columnist and author.