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In-Depth Interview: Prof. Andrew Bacevich on the Long Arc of America’s Mideast Wars

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Andrew J. Bacevich discusses his new book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, and calls for path to peace.Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran and retired professor of history and international relations at Boston University, is one of the most credible critics of US foreign and military policy in recent years.

We begin with comments that Bacevich gave at the recent conference of Veterans for Peace that echo the final chapter of his new book.  The night before we talked, he had been an invited guest at the “Commander in Chief Forum”, and he noted that neither Clinton nor Trump was asked about nor volunteered ideas to restore peace in the Mideast.

Bacevich describes Clinton as “evasive” on many issues, rejects her justification of the Libya intervention and comments on her work as Secretary of State.  He says Trump doesn’t dodge, he just “blurts” bizarre comments like his denigration of American generals and his remark on Iraq that the US should have “taken the oil”.

From his book, we touch on the Balkans and Clinton’s responses to terrorist actions, and the Bush and Obama eras, along with some flashbacks to the Carter and Reagan terms.  Bacevich rejects the claims of American exceptionalism, and argues that we have not achieved any of our objectives of almost 50 years of intervention.

Your humble host chides the professor for breezing past 9/11 in his book–its origins and exploitation, and Bacevich says he accepts the official narrative while downplaying its importance.  He does acknowledge that it was used to enable many events that people like Cheney and Rumsfeld were scheming to invade Iraq well before 9/11.

We talk about the origins of the Islamic State and the invasion of Iraq, which he describes as “causal”.  We discuss Obama’s approach to Syria and the impact the the nuclear deal with Iran.