One Word Defines U.S. Foreign Policy: Hubris

Andrew Bacevich has a new article at TomDispatch.com in which he highlights the bankruptcy of US strategy in the Greater Middle East. Here’s an excerpt: “We have it on highest authority: the recent killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan marks ‘an important milestone.’ So the president of the United States has declared, with that claim duly echoed and implicitly endorsed by media commentary — the New York Times reporting, for example, that Mansour’s death leaves the Taliban leadership ‘shocked’ and ‘shaken.’

“But a question remains: A milestone toward what exactly?

“Toward victory? Peace? Reconciliation? At the very least, toward the prospect of the violence abating? Merely posing the question is to imply that U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world serve some larger purpose.

“Yet for years now that has not been the case. The assassination of Mansour instead joins a long list of previous milestones, turning points, and landmarks briefly heralded as significant achievements only to prove much less than advertised.”

He concludes this way: “Try this thought experiment. Imagine the opposing candidates in a presidential campaign each refusing to accept war as the new normal. Imagine them actually taking stock of the broader fight that’s been ongoing for decades now. Imagine them offering alternatives to armed conflicts that just drag on and on. Now that would be a milestone.”

But we won’t be seeing that milestone. Why? One word: hubris. Like a bunch of bad actors, US leaders will continue to hog the world stage, hamming it up even as they bomb (pun intended). No matter what, they can’t vacate the stage until they’re thrown off of it. They are as delusional as Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard,” but without her style.

Here’s the link to Bacevich’s article: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176147/

Bracing Views

Like Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard," Our Hubristic Leaders Are Always Ready for their Close-up Like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard,” Our Hubristic Leaders Are Always Ready for their Close-up

W.J. Astore

When Hannah Arendt, the famous German-American political philosopher, criticized American involvement in the Vietnam War, she said that our foreign policy “experts” fell prey to using excessive means to achieve minor aims in a region of marginal interest to the United States.  You could say the same of most of America’s foreign interventions since 1945.  We are a superpower with a boundless propensity for meddling in world affairs.  We waste enormous amounts of money and resources intervening in areas that are of marginal importance to our national security.

There are many reasons for these wasteful interventions, of course.  The military-industrial-Congressional complex plays its role. Presidents love to intervene as a sign of “strength.” Natural resources, especially oil, are usually in play.  The usual motives, in short: profit, power, greed.

But perhaps the root…

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