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Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War

Events | Headline and Cultural Forums

Andrew J. Bacevich, the bestselling author of The Limits of Power, returns to Portland to celebrate the release of his new book, Washington Rules, which critically examines the Washington consensus on national security and why it must change.

For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America’s military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.

What is the origin of this consensus? Can we continue to assume that American military power will oblige others to accommodate our desires, whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods?  Is global stability dependent on American military presence, or has this militarism become both unaffordable and dangerous?

Though our politicians deny it, American global might is faltering. This is the moment, Bacevich argues, to reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world—to acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. Replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America’s future, and may yet offer the key to the country’s salvation.

Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He is the author of The New American Militarism, among other books. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He is the recipient of a Lannan award and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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