Wednesday, 29 November 2006

A Time of Romans - "The New American Militarism", Andrew J. Bacevich

Right, this is where we start into the anti-American slander and vilification. Oh, the fun we shall have, my children!

Or perhaps not. I'll try to restrain my knee jerk temptation to assholism.

One of the worrying things about America as viewed from the outside is the militarisation of the assumptions, discourse and (to a lesser extent) culture by comparison to the communities we find ourselves in. I have no idea how a German would judge it, but there seems to be a strong streak of Prussianism glowing in the chaotic glare with which America displays itself to the rest of us. Think I'm kidding about what's displayed or our reaction?

We've been there and seen that. At best, it results in every problem being seen as a nail and a Big Green hammer being applied. At worst, well, we all, in our hearts, know that fucking answer.

Up until now, I hadn't had the chance to examine the domestic history behind it. Cue Andrew Bacevich's book.

The point is not to deprive George W Bush or his advisors of whatever credit or blame they may deserve for conjuring up the several large-scale campaigns and myriad lesser military actions comprising their war on terror. They certainly have taken up the mantle of this militarism with a verve not seen in years. Rather it is to suggest that well before September 11, 2001, and before the younger Bush's ascent to the presidency a militaristic predisposition was already in place both in official circles and among Americans more generally. In this regard, 9/11 deserves to be seen as an event that gave added impetus to already existing tendencies rather than as a turning point. For his part, President Bush himself ought to be seen as a player reciting his lines rather than as a playwright drafting an entirely new script.

In short, the argument offered here asserts that present-day American militarism has deep roots in the American past. It represents a bipartisan project. As a result, it is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, a point obscured by the myopia and personal animus tainting most accounts of how we arrived at this point.

There are some weaknesses in the book that will take a second reading to articulate clearly, but it's well worth a read. Call it 7.5 out of 10.


realchesherkat said...

Frist ever!

You always have something to add to the discussion over at Pandagon. I'm sure you'll do great. And thank you for pointing out that the Dems aren't really anti-war so much as anti-this-unpopular-war. The warlike nature of us Americans is a very big problem for us and for the world.

Phoenician in a time of Romans said...

Thank you. We'll see if it continues.

The conservatives are not necessarily war-mongers either, at least not until the last couple of decades. The book is well worth a read.