National Press Club

America Needs to Put Its House in Order, Bacevich Says

October 13, 2008 | By Keith Hill

Americans must make substantive changes in this country and put its house in order if things are going to improve, Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, said at an Oct. 10 Newsmaker.

Bacevich is the author of "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism," which has been
called "an authoritative call to arms for change."

Focusingon the current economic crisis, Bacevich said you can look at it as either a passing problem or a true turning point in global history.

After Sept. 11, the Bush administration's national security policy focused on changing the way
"they"-- meaning Muslims -- live in order to prevent another 9/11, he declared. This meant trying to introduce democracy to the Middle East, starting with Iraq.

On the homefront, there was no call for Americans to sacrifice, which resulted in a reduction of available resources, he said.

Iraq demonstrates that using power to change the way "they" live is folly, Bacevich noted, adding that the economic and national security failures of the Bush administration reinforce each other.

In answer to a question, Bacevich said that Americans need to distinguish between undertaking actions that would benefit the country versus actions that would bankrupt it.