America’s Long War In The Middle East

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Retired Army Colonel and big thinker Andrew Bacevich on what he calls America’s endless war in the Middle East.

Syrian soldiers celebrate their victory against the Islamic State group in Qaryatain, Syria, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Natalia Sancha
Syrian soldiers celebrate their victory against the Islamic State group in Qaryatain, Syria, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Natalia Sancha)

For going on forty years now, the United States has regularly, sometimes massively, been deploying military force in the Middle East. If you plot all those strikes and campaigns on a big map, it looks like the battles of a war. My guest today, Andrew Bacevich, says that’s just what it is: one long American war in the Middle East. We’re still in it, he says. It’s not working. We need, he says – ISIS or no ISIS – to stop. To get out. This hour On Point, a call to end America’s great Middle Eastern war.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University. Retired U.S. Army Colonel. Author of the new book, "America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History." Also author of "Breach of Trust" and "Washington Rules."

Shadi Hamid, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Author of the forthcoming book, "Islamic Exceptionalism." Also author of "Temptations of Power." (@shadihamid)

From Tom’s Reading List

POLITICO Magazine: Let’s End America’s Hopeless War for the Middle East — "To reflect on this longest of American wars—why it goes on and on, and at such a cost of blood and treasure—is to confront two questions. First, why has the world’s mightiest military achieved so little even while absorbing very considerable losses and inflicting even greater damage on the subjects of America’s supposed beneficence? Second, why in the face of such unsatisfactory outcomes has the United States refused to chart a different course? In short, why can’t we win? And since we haven’t won, why can’t we get out?"

The Atlantic: The End of the U.S.-Dominated Order in the Middle East — "The president’s determination to avoid American military engagement in the Middle East has had other consequences as well. It has required Obama to relinquish America’s role as the dominant power responsible for maintaining order in a deeply troubled region—a role that the United States has played for more than five decades. The unraveling of the American-dominated Middle Eastern order began with the overthrow of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak—one of its pillars—in February 2011. Although the Obama doctrine at that point was still in its formative stages, the fact that Obama supported Mubarak’s overthrow put all America’s regional allies on notice that something profound was afoot."

Huffington Post: The Middle East after ISIS — "From West Africa to the Hindu Kush of Central Asia, the Islamic world is in a state of crisis. Not only does this crisis encompass virtually the entire Middle East, but it extends well beyond it to include North Africa and West Africa, including the Sahel fringe of sub-Saharan Africa, all the way to the Indian Ocean, as well as large portions of central Asia, and in particular Afghanistan and Pakistan."

This program aired on April 6, 2016.


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