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Andrew J. Bacevich is a retired Army colonel who served in Vietnam and taught politics at Boston U. We talk about his recent appearance opposite Leon Panetta on the PBS Newshour, where he challenged the groupthink toward our failed policies.Bacevich is the author of many books, including Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. You can read his recent commentary at TomDispatch here.
We open by noting that the June 10 panel discussion on PBS is about the only “debate” we’ve seen since Obama re-opened the war in Iraq to American involvement, and added Syria. We observe that there are more American trainers than Iraqi trainees, and that we spent 10 years and about $30 billion training an army that won’t fight. Bacevich agrees that the “surge” was a failure, and helped create IS and partition Iraq.
With his service in Vietnam, Bacevich is quite credible on the creeping escalation of our military involvement against Islamic State, and the repetition of policy blunders.
Bacevich directly challenged Panetta, effectively, on PBS on the exaggeration of the threat IS poses. And, to gasps from the Beltway insiders, he suggested that Iran is best positioned to take on IS. He agrees that their refusal to consider other options is driven by US deference to Iran and Israel, instead of putting American interests first.
Near the end, we touch on Egypt and the 6-way war in Yemen, where Bacevich believes there is no direct US interest.