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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

I strongly agree with the message in this article and would like to hear others views on it. Please read and discuss.

Bill Moyers interviews Dr. Andrew Bacevich, West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, BU professor and one of the sharpest Cassandras about where we're headed:

BILL MOYERS: It's been a long time since I've read a book in which I highlighted practically every third sentence. So, it took me a while to read, what is in fact, a rather short book. You began with a quote from the Bible, the Book of Second Kings, chapter 20, verse one. "Set thine house in order." How come that admonition?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I've been troubled by the course of U.S. foreign policy for a long, long time. And I wrote the book in order to sort out my own thinking about where our basic problems lay. And I really reached the conclusion that our biggest problems are within.

I think there's a tendency on the part of policy makers and probably a tendency on the part of many Americans to think that the problems we face are problems that are out there somewhere, beyond our borders. And that if we can fix those problems, then we'll be able to continue the American way of life as it has long existed. I think it's fundamentally wrong. Our major problems are at home.

BILL MOYERS: So, this is a version of "Physician, heal thyself?"

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, yes, "Physician, heal thyself," and you begin healing yourself by looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing yourself as you really are.
....
BILL MOYERS: You call us an "empire of consumption."

ANDREW BACEVICH: I didn't create that phrase. It's a phrase drawn from a book by a wonderful historian at Harvard University, Charles Maier, and the point he makes in his very important book is that, if we think of the United States at the apex of American power, which I would say would be the immediate post World War Two period, through the Eisenhower years, into the Kennedy years. We made what the world wanted. They wanted our cars. We exported our television sets, our refrigerators - we were the world's manufacturing base. He called it an "empire of production."

BILL MOYERS: Right.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Sometime around the 1960s there was a tipping point, when the "empire of production" began to become the "empire of consumption." When the cars started to be produced elsewhere, and the television sets, and the socks, and everything else. And what we ended up with was the American people becoming consumers rather than producers.

BILL MOYERS: And you say this has produced a condition of profound dependency, to the extent, and I'm quoting you, "Americans are no longer masters of their own fate."

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, they're not. I mean, the current debt to the Chinese government grows day by day. Why? Well, because of the negative trade balance. Our negative trade balance with the world is something in the order of $800 billion per year. That's $800 billion of stuff that we buy, so that we can consume, that is $800 billion greater than the amount of stuff that we sell to them. That's a big number. I mean, it's a big number even relative to the size of our economy.
....
BILL MOYERS: You're the only author I have read, since I read Jimmy Carter, who gives so much time to the President's speech on July 15th, 1979. Why does that speech speak to you so strongly?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, this is the so-called Malaise Speech, even though he never used the word "malaise" in the text to the address. It's a very powerful speech, I think, because President Carter says in that speech, oil, our dependence on oil, poses a looming threat to the country. If we act now, we may be able to fix this problem. If we don't act now, we're headed down a path in which not only will we become increasingly dependent upon foreign oil, but we will have opted for a false model of freedom. A freedom of materialism, a freedom of self-indulgence, a freedom of collective recklessness. And what the President was saying at the time was, we need to think about what we mean by freedom. We need to choose a definition of freedom which is anchored in truth, and the way to manifest that choice, is by addressing our energy problem.

He had a profound understanding of the dilemma facing the country in the post Vietnam period. And of course, he was completely hooted, derided, disregarded.

BILL MOYERS: And he lost the election. You in fact say-

ANDREW BACEVICH: Exactly.

BILL MOYERS: -this speech killed any chance he had of winning reelection. Why? Because the American people didn't want to settle for less?

ANDREW BACEVICH: They absolutely did not. And indeed, the election of 1980 was the great expression of that, because in 1980, we have a candidate, perhaps the most skillful politician of our time, Ronald Reagan, who says that, "Doom-sayers, gloom-sayers, don't listen to them. The country's best days are ahead of us."

BILL MOYERS: Morning in America.

ANDREW BACEVICH: It's Morning in America. And you don't have to sacrifice, you can have more, all we need to do is get government out of the way, and drill more holes for oil, because the President led us to believe the supply of oil was infinite.

BILL MOYERS: You describe Ronald Reagan as the "modern prophet of profligacy. The politician who gave moral sanction to the empire of consumption."

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, to understand the truth about President Reagan, is to understand why so much of what we imagined to be our politics is misleading and false. He was the guy who came in and said we need to shrink the size of government. Government didn't shrink during the Reagan era, it grew.

He came in and he said we need to reduce the level of federal spending. He didn't reduce it, it went through the roof, and the budget deficits for his time were the greatest they had been since World War Two.

BILL MOYERS: And do you remember that it was his successor, his Vice President, the first President Bush who said in 1992, the American way of life is not negotiable.

ANDREW BACEVICH: And all presidents, again, this is not a Republican thing, or a Democratic thing, all presidents, all administrations are committed to that proposition. Now, I would say, that probably, 90 percent of the American people today would concur. The American way of life is not up for negotiation.

What I would invite them to consider is that, if you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, and of course you need to ask yourself, what is it you value most. That if you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, then we need to change the American way of life. We need to modify that which may be peripheral, in order to preserve that which is at the center of what we value.

BILL MOYERS: What do you value most?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think the clearest statement of what I value is found in the preamble to the Constitution. There is nothing in the preamble to the Constitution which defines the purpose of the United States of America as remaking the world in our image, which I view as a fool's errand. There is nothing in the preamble of the Constitution that ever imagined that we would embark upon an effort, as President Bush has defined it, to transform the Greater Middle East. This region of the world that incorporates something in order of 1.4 billion people.

I believe that the framers of the Constitution were primarily concerned with focusing on the way we live here, the way we order our affairs. To try to ensure that as individuals, we can have an opportunity to pursue our, perhaps, differing definitions of freedom, but also so that, as a community, we could live together in some kind of harmony. And that future generations would also be able to share in those same opportunities.

The big problem, it seems to me, with the current crisis in American foreign policy, is that unless we do change our ways, the likelihood that our children, our grandchildren, the next generation is going to enjoy the opportunities that we've had, is very slight, because we're squandering our power. We are squandering our wealth. In many respects, to the extent that we persist in our imperial delusions, we're also going to squander our freedom because imperial policies, which end up enhancing the authority of the imperial president, also end up providing imperial presidents with an opportunity to compromise freedom even here at home. And we've seen that since 9/11.
....
BILL MOYERS: One of the things that comes through in your book is that great truths are contained in small absurdities. And you use the lowly IED, the improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb, that's taken such a toll of American forces in Iraq, to get at a very powerful truth. Tell me about that.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well war - wars are competitions. The adversary develops capabilities. Your enemy develops capabilities. And you try to develop your own capabilities to check what he can do to you to be able to, overcome his capabilities.

One of the striking things about the Iraq War, and in which we had been fighting against, technologically at least, a relatively backward or primitive adversary, one of the interesting things is they have innovated far more adeptly and quickly than we have.

BILL MOYERS: The insurgents.

ANDREW BACEVICH: The insurgents have. And an example of that is the IED, which began as a very low tech kind of primitive mine. And, over time, became ever more sophisticated, ever more lethal, ever more difficult to detect, ever more difficult to check. And those enhancements in insurgent IED capability continually kept ahead of our ability to innovate and catch up.

BILL MOYERS: And I think you say, in your book, that it costs the price of a pizza to make a roadside bomb?

ANDREW BACEVICH: That's right. Yeah.

BILL MOYERS: This is what our men and women are up against in Afghanistan-

ANDREW BACEVICH: The point is to say that the reality of war is always a heck of a lot more complicated than you might imagine the day before the war begins. And, rather than looking to technology to define the future of warfare, we ought to look - really look at military history.
....
BILL MOYERS: How, then, do we fight what you acknowledge, in the book, is the perfectly real threat posed by violent Islamic extremism?

ANDREW BACEVICH: I think we need to see the threat for what it is. It is a real threat. It's not an existential threat. The 19 hijackers that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11 didn't succeed because they had advanced technology, because they were particularly smart, because they were ten feet tall.

They succeeded because we let our guard down and we were stupid. We need to recognize that the threat posed by violent Islamic radicalism, by terrorist organizations, al Qaeda, really is akin to a criminal conspiracy, a violent conspiracy, a dangerous conspiracy. But it's a criminal enterprise. And the primary response to a criminal enterprise is policing.

Policing as in organizations like the FBI, intelligence organizations, some special operations forces. That would undertake a concerted campaign to identify and root out and destroy this criminal conspiracy. But that doesn't require invading and occupying countries. Again, one of the big mistakes the Bush Administration made, and it's a mistake we're still paying for, is that the President persuaded us that the best way to prevent another 9/11 is to embark upon a global war. Wrong. The best way to prevent another 9/11 is to organize an intensive international effort to root out and destroy that criminal conspiracy.
....
ANDREW BACEVICH: One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It's not true. I happen to define myself as a conservative.

Well, what do conservatives say they stand for? Well, conservatives say they stand for balanced budgets. Small government. The so called traditional values.

Well, when you look back over the past 30 or so years, since the rise of Ronald Reagan, which we, in many respects, has been a conservative era in American politics, well, did we get small government?

Do we get balanced budgets? Do we get serious as opposed to simply rhetorical attention to traditional social values? The answer's no. Because all of that really has simply been part of a package of tactics that Republicans have employed to get elected and to - and then to stay in office.
....
I don't think we actually support the troops. We the people. What we the people do is we contract out the business of national security to approximately 0.5 percent of the population. About a million and a half people that are on active duty.

And then we really turn away. We don't want to look when they go back for two or three or four or five combat tours. That's not supporting the troops. That's an abdication of civic responsibility. And I do think it - there's something fundamentally immoral about that.

Again, as I tried to say, I think the global war on terror, as a framework of thinking about policy, is deeply defective. But if one believes in the global war on terror, then why isn't the country actually supporting it? In a meaningful substantive sense?

Where is the country?

BILL MOYERS: Are you calling for a reinstatement of the draft?

ANDREW BACEVICH: I'm not calling for a reinstatement of the draft because I understand that, politically, that's an impossibility. And, to tell you the truth, we don't need to have an army of six or eight or ten million people. But we do need to have the country engaged in what its soldiers are doing. In some way that has meaning. And that simply doesn't exist today.

http://www.pbs.org/...ranscript1.html

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

I would like to know if Andrew Bacevich believes that the drinking age for BU should be negotiable.

CVC
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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

Very interesting - I agree with what he says.

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

I didn't recognise the name. After reading twice and looking around I realize that I heard another interview of his, maybe on Fresh Air. A lot of his ideas reinforce my thoughts as to why I as a conservative often think about things the way I do.

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

I will respond in a better way later. I think some portions need to be expanded upon and others discussed in more detail. I just worked 15 hours without a break or lunch, and am just too tired to give this the attention it deserves.

Great piece! Great reading! I truly enjoyed it............Particularly the part about China.

Civetcat the conservative? Voting for a liberal, far left senator? Sorry buddy, but I'm not buying that one for a minute. Just admit that you're a liberal or a moderate leftist (at the very least.) Admitting you have a problem is the 1st step in the long road to recovery...........just kidding buddy!............settle down........take a deep breath.

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

I think it shows those of us considered on the left by being Democrats can agree with a conservative who displays rationality. I believe this gentlemen is rational and provides realistic assessment of the war and the US.

This is from Wiki and is on Andrew Bacevich:

Andrew Bacevich
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Andrew J. Bacevich (born 1947 in Normal, Illinois) is a professor of international relations at Boston University, former director of its Center for International Relations (from 1998 to 2005), and author of several books, including American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy (2002) and The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (2005). He has been "a persistent, vocal critic of the US occupation of Iraq, calling the conflict a catastrophic failure."[1] In March 2007, he described George W. Bush's endorsement of such "preventive wars" as "immoral, illicit, and imprudent."[1][2] His son died fighting in the Iraq war in May of 2007.[1]

Bacevich graduated from West Point in 1969 and served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, serving in Vietnam from the summer of 1970 to the summer of 1971. Afterwards he held posts in Germany, including the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the United States, and the Persian Gulf up to his retirement from the service with the rank of Colonel in the early 1990s. He holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University prior to joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998.
On May 13, 2007, Bacevich's son, also named Andrew J. Bacevich, was killed in action in Iraq by a suicide bomber south of Samarra in Salah Ad Din Province. The younger Bacevich, 27, was a First Lieutenant.[3] He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
Bacevich also has three daughters.[3]
[edit]Writings

He has described himself as a "Catholic conservative" and initially published writings in a number of traditionally conservative American political magazines, his recent writings have professed a dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and many of its intellectual supporters on matters of American foreign policy.
Both his recent books, The Long War (2007) and The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (2005), are critical of American foreign policy in the post Cold War era, maintaining the United States has developed an over-reliance on military power, in contrast to diplomacy, to achieve its foreign policy aims. He also asserts that policymakers in particular, and the American people in general, overestimate the usefulness of military force in foreign affairs. Bacevich believes romanticized images of war in popular culture (especially movies) interact with the lack of actual military service among most of the population to produce in the American people a highly unrealistic, even dangerous notion of what combat and military service are really like.
Bacevich conceived the The New American Militarism not only as "a corrective to what has become the conventional critique of U.S. policies since 9/11 but as a challenge to the orthodox historical context employed to justify those policies."
Finally, he attempts to place current policies in historical context, as part of an American tradition going back to the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, a tradition (of an interventionist, militarized foreign policy) which has strong bi-partisan roots. To lay an intellectual foundation for this argument, he cites two influential historians from the 20th century: Charles Beard and William Appleman Williams.
Ultimately, Bacevich eschews the partisanship of current debate about American foreign policy as short-sighted and ahistorical. Instead of blaming only one President (or his advisors) for contemporary policies, Bacevich sees both Republicans and Democrats as sharing responsibility for policies which may not be in the nation's best interest.
In March 2003, at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bacevich wrote in The Los Angeles Times that "if, as seems probable, the effort encounters greater resistance than its architects imagine, our way of life may find itself tested in ways that will make the Vietnam War look like a mere blip in American history."[1]
An editorial about the Bush Doctrine was published by the Boston Globe in March 2007.[2]
In an article of the The American Conservative dated March 24, 2008, Bacevich depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as the best choice for conservatives in the fall. Part of his argument includes the fact that "this liberal Democrat has promised to end the U.S. combat role in Iraq. Contained within that promise, if fulfilled, lies some modest prospect of a conservative revival." [4] He also goes on to mention that "For conservatives to hope the election of yet another Republican will set things right is surely in vain. To believe that President John McCain will reduce the scope and intrusiveness of federal authority, cut the imperial presidency down to size, and put the government on a pay-as-you-go basis is to succumb to a great delusion." [4]
His papers are currently housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University
[edit]Bibliography

The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (Macmillan, USA, 2008) ISBN 0-8050-8815-6
The Long War: A New History of U.S. National Security Policy Since World War II (Columbia University Press, USA, 2007) ISBN 0231131585
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Oxford University Press Inc, USA, 2005) ISBN 0-19-517338-4
American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy (Harvard University Press, 2004) ISBN 0-674-01375-1
[edit]See also

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

Another Conservative view here is the link and article:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2008/08/iousa-a-reallife-disaster-m...

"I.O.U.S.A.": A Real-Life Disaster Movie

Thursday August 21, 2008
posted by Rod Dreher @ 8:43am Permalink Email This Add to »

Categories: Culture, Economics

Last night Julie and I watched a screener copy of the new documentary "I.O.U.S.A.", which will be on view in some theaters around the nation tonight only. It's a film about the national debt, focused on the sharp criticism that's been levied for some time by former US comptroller David Walker. In the film, a Republican US Senator -- Gregg, I think -- says that the only threat greater than our current fiscal path is that an Islamic terrorist would set off a nuclear bomb on US territory. The film does a good, if starkly terrifying, job of making that case, and doing so in language that ordinary people can understand. It's not a politically partisan film: Walker received appointments from both Bush presidents, and from President Clinton. The film faults the entire political system -- and we the people who support their fiscal irresponsibility, and who are so fiscally irresponsible ourselves.

But it is especially hard to watch if you're a Republican, I have to say. I had not realized until looking at the charts in the film how villainous Reagan and Bush 43 have been in terms of massively running up our national debt, and giving nothing but lip service to talk about how Americans need to live within their means. It's utterly clear from this film and the case it makes based on facts that we cannot afford GOP dogma on tax cuts -- nor can we afford spending increases favored by either party. Moreover, the film brings home the truth that you could end the war on Iraq right now, and let the Bush tax cuts expire, and it would barely make a dent in solving our long-term fiscal problems, which mostly have to do with entitlement reform.

The film revisits the Clinton presidency, the one fiscal bright spot since LBJ took office. It argues that Clinton and the Republican Congress made fiscal responsibility, not tax cuts, a cornerstone of federal policy, and actually started bringing down the debt. Bush 43 blew it, of course. "IOUSA" leaves you with the feeling that Republicans should never, ever get their hands on the fiscal steering wheel of this country, but it also suggests that divided government might offer the best chance of forcing both parties to get serious about the budget -- if, that is, the president is not a tax-cut dogmatist.

As ever, though, in a democracy, people get the kind of government they deserve. "IOUSA" says we can't expect Washington to live within its means if we the people aren't willing to do the same thing. And we're not. The savings rate has gone from nearly 14 percent in the 1970s to below zero today -- this, over the course of a single generation. We've turned into something-for-nothingniks. And foreigners are going to own us and our foreign policy because we're slaves to debt. Like I said, this is a disaster movie.

Perhaps the most important takeaway: Families and individuals have got to start thinking and learning about individual, familial and communal self-sufficiency, because even if we solve this problem and avert economic meltdown, this nation is headed for a world of hurt, and soon. Warren Buffett, who helped finance this film, I believe, appears in it to say that the fiscal problem is so severe that it could produce serious political instability, and facilitate the rise of demagogues.

After the jump, find an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal Q&A with David Walker. Below, the trailer for the film. If it's playing in your town tonight, go see it. What really needs to happen, though, is this thing to come out on video, and for churches and civic groups to hold screenings and meetings about its message.

WSJ: What do you believe Washington and taxpayers need to do to turn the economy around?
Mr. Walker: We're going to have to re-impose tough budget controls -- tougher than the ones we had in the '90s -- because we're in worse shape. Secondly, we're going to have to reform Social Security, Medicare, and the entire health-care system. Thirdly, we're going to have to engage in comprehensive tax reform. And lastly, we're going to have to look at the base of the federal government, because it's grown very much out of shape.

I think there is also a cultural problem here. I think the federal government is doing an extremely poor job of managing its finances, and unfortunately, too many Americans have been following this bad example, spending more money than they make, and mortgaging their future. And there has to be a behavioral change. One of our biggest concerns is also the savings deficit. Generally, Americans are very prolific at spending and not very good at saving, and that's caused us to increasingly rely on foreign lenders to finance our deficits. That's not in our [best] long-term economic or geopolitical interests.

WSJ: "I.O.U.S.A" is being released during the heat of the presidential election. How do you see this year's candidates shaping up in terms of these issues?

Mr. Walker: Neither one of the presidential candidates has addressed fiscal responsibility and intergenerational equity. We are hopeful that as a result of the film and a number of other efforts, that these issues will be a higher priority in the election campaign. There has been some talk of a commission proposal, and taxes and health care, but it's been piecemeal.

WSJ: On the campaign trail, it seems to be all about quick fixes to placate the voter, like energy rebates and oil drilling.

Walker: It's fine for them to talk about what needs to be done in the short term, but not to the exclusion of what needs to be done to address the real disease.

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

In order to debate whether it is negotiable one has to define the American way of life. When asked "What he values most", the author is presumably trying to define our core values or the American way of life.

Unfortunately his response is mostly sentimental and I think falls far short. Perhaps he embellishes his thoughts elsewhere...

As a thought experiment, I challenge any reader here to define the "American dream" or the "American way of life". Furthermore try to put that definition in the context of the 1700's, 1800's, 1900's, and the 21st century. Does your definition change? Is the American way or the American dream something immutable?

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My dream is certainly different from SoCo's.

I think at various points in our history we've had a grasp on the definition of "American Dream". But it's ultimately nebulous and subjective. The American Dream means different things to a Pakistani immigrant vs a Cape Cod blue blood. To some it means personal liberty, and to others it means freedom from having to deal with other people making choices they don't agree with.

Ultimately, I'd say that the American Dream is living in a society where 250 million different interpretations of that dream can live together in harmony. Demographics change, technologies evolve, and ways of socialization alter over time. But throughout our history, Americans have believed in the individual, and the idea that any individual, no matter how humble their origins, can achieve greatness unbound by government or social position. So to me, I think the concept of individual liberty is one of the defining aspects of the American Dream.

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable

I think the American dream is to be free, to live in a land where you have liberty, where you are the master and the government is the servant and have the opportunity, but not the guarantee to be prosperous.

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The American Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable
bitmasher wrote:
In order to debate whether it is negotiable one has to define the American way of life. When asked "What he values most", the author is presumably trying to define our core values or the American way of life.

Unfortunately his response is mostly sentimental and I think falls far short. Perhaps he embellishes his thoughts elsewhere...

As a thought experiment, I challenge any reader here to define the "American dream" or the "American way of life". Furthermore try to put that definition in the context of the 1700's, 1800's, 1900's, and the 21st century. Does your definition change? Is the American way or the American dream something immutable?

Immutable? Nothing is immutable everything is in a constant state of flux. What is the American way of life? You're born if you have good parents who guide you the right way hopefully you'll be able to take advantage of that and get an education and or job that allows you to live the kind of life you want within the laws and standards set by our country. This without having to conform to the standards of one religion or political party.

I think the greatest threat to this doesn't lie outside of our borders, but rather by our leaders who are at this time guiding us into a Nation of have and have nots, stretching our forces thin and draining our coffers by doing this, and culling our rights under the guise of protecting us.

I think Mr. Andrew Bacevich hit the nail on the head.

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