politics | May 26, 2013

Only When Necessary: Andrew Bacevich On The Over-Reliance Of Militarism

When politics speaker Andrew Bacevich told Steven Colbert that we should choose to go to war "only when necessary," and, when we do, "we really ought to adhere to the provisions of the constitution," it seemed like a fairly straight-forward comment. Constitutionally speaking, Congress is supposed to approve and declare the decision to go to war, the professor and retired Colonel notes. However, as Bacevich explained on The Colbert Report, the American government hasn't taken that approach to conflict since World War II. What has the government been doing since then? "All kinds of work-arounds that have basically led to the Commander-In-Chief claiming evermore authority to do whatever he wants," Bacevich says.

In his book, The New American Militarism, Bacevich explains that a set of 'Washington rules' that govern the nation's military strategy have led to perpetual war. And, he argues, that's not a good thing. As he explains in the interview, there is too much emphasis on trigger-happy solutions to conflicts with other nations. He agrees that war, sometimes, can be necessary, but it should not be constant. Nor should it be so easy to get Congress to "throw you the keys to the car and say drive wherever you want and send us the bill." Drawing from extensive military experience both in the field and in academia, Bacevich paints a detailed picture of America's current domestic and international policies. He explores the pitfalls of the America's military mindset—and how we can, and must, change it going forward.

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