None of the American soldiers in the great Middle East had been killed by 1980 since the end of the Second World War. Moreover, none of the American soldiers serving anywhere in the world had been killed since 1990. In “America’s war for the Great Middle East,” Andrew Bacevich notes this shift in military action. The book offers a critical and an in-depth review historical review of this military enterprise that has existed for more than three decades and did not seem to end soon. He argues that the United States was central in initiating a new war referred to as the “war for the great middle east.” Unlike the war in the Soviet Union that was more sporadic, this new war is more persistent. In this war, the United States’ military engaged in continuous campaigns over Islamic states that have lasted to date. However, this approach to war brought very little success to the America Military efforts. On the contrary, efforts taken to promote peace in those Islamic states have in effect created a permanent war in the region and the world at large (Bacevich 12). The main argument in the book is that the Approach taken by a political leader, military leaders, and key military policymakers are largely ineffective and should be reconsidered with urgency.
Several pieces of evidence from the book support of the main argument already identified. First, Bacevich cites Jimmy Carter as an example of a political leader who advocated for policies and set a precedent that has largely incapacitated the Military in executing their mandate and consequently squandered American opportunities for treasure. First, he argues that Carter advocated for self-sacrifice rather than self-indulgence in the consumption of energy. According to Carter, this action would help to reduce overdependence on foreign oil that was increasingly becoming expensive. On the contrary, Bacevich holds the view that this approach failed to seize the opportunity to persuade Americans to exchange their dependency with autonomy (Bacevich 16). Consequently, the military efforts were not structured in a way that sought to give America autonomy over oil sources in the Middle East. Secondly, Carter authorized America to support the guerrilla fights against Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed regime. He argues that this move was very instrumental in fuelling radical Islam that came to bring the very instability in several parts of the world that America had sort to contain. Lastly, Carter announced that the U.S. would take military action against any other country that would attempt to seize oil fields in the Persian Gulf (Bacevich 25). This uncalculated pronouncement was the origin of “America’s War the Greater Middle East.” Therefore, Bacevich uses Cater as an example of how poor political leadership resulted in the ineffectiveness of America’s military actions.
Secondly, Bacevich gives the example of reflexive militarism that is evident in the America Foreign policies, which have largely incapacitated military action. He argues that the American foreign policies are reflexive and consequently harmful in the end. He highlights more than twelve military interventions that have taken place in the previous 35 years and seeks to demonstrate how such military interventions have been informed by the reflexive military policies and were consequently ineffective the specific issues that sought to address. He further argues demonstrates that pernicious naiveté among Democrats as well as Republicans have yielded military policy interventions characterized by incoherence and confusion (Bacevich 30). He gives the examples of Obama’s drone strike assassinations and Carters policies that guided his nature of military interventions. He further demonstrates how erroneous perceptions about the American military efficacy have played a role in miss guiding policymakers on the formulation of Military policies. Through these examples, Bacevich demonstrates how the American military policies have contributed to the inability of the American military to execute their mandate efficiently in the interest of the Americans.
The argument that Bacevich presents in this book is very convincing and effective in persuading the reader to agree with his point of view. Several aspects make this argument persuasive. First, he gives clear evidence to support his argument. Most of the evidences presented in this book are credible and in public domain. For instance, he gives the example of the withdrawal from the Afghanistan war in 2001 and the premature declaration of victory during this way as a demonstration of how poor military leadership has led to ineffective military actions. He further gives the example of how killing leaders of organized criminal terror groups such as Osama bin have been construed to mean victory over such gangs (Bacevich 44).
Bacevich identifies the re-emergence of other criminal gangs under different titles as a clear demonstration of the fact that the killing of criminal gang leaders is a naive decision based on reflexive policies that do not deal with the cause of the issue. These among others demonstrate how he has extensively used examples to demonstrate his arguments. An argument backed up with credible and factual examples offers great credibility and is consequently more convincing compared to an argument that lacks examples (Bacevich 56). Therefore, Bacevich’s arguments are convincing to the reader because he has used factual and formidable evidence to demonstrate his argument.
Secondly, the argument is persuasive and hence convinces the reader because Bacevich demonstrates in-depth knowledge of the subject matter. A reader will be convinced by the point of view presented in an argument if the author presents himself or herself as being knowledgeable in the subject matter. Bacevich has presented himself as being knowledgeable in the field military and foreign policy making in various ways. First, he clearly links theoretical knowledge with factual evidence (Bacevich 72). A clear connection between the intellectual information that he gives and the evidence he provides is evident. This depicts an author who not only has theoretical and intellectual knowledge but also possesses the relevant practical expertise in the field of the subject matter. As such, he can create relevance of the information he is proving for the audience who may not have such practical expertise.
Secondly, Bacevich is authoritative in presenting his argument. He speaks from the point of the authority of knowledge in condemning the political leadership, the military leader and key policymakers in the military and foreign relation fields. The demonstration of authority shows that he derives such authority from an in-depth understanding of the subject matter. An argument that is presented in a way that demonstrates the authority in the knowledge that he possesses is consequently effective in persuading the reader to his point of view. Lastly, the argument presented in this book is strong because the precept over which the argument is set is true. Bacevich forms his arguments based on the precepts of instability and insecurity occasioned by criminal gangs and radicle Islam (Bacevich 78). This precept is true and evident to the public this makes the argument to be persuasive to the reader.
Despite the persuasiveness of the arguments, several gaps are evident as he fails to address several fundamental and underlying factors in the argument. First, the thesis and the argument presented in this book disregard the role of international agreements and treaties about war and military activities. In reality, international agreements and treaties govern military activities across nations. All countries are obliged to abide by such treaties in making military decisions and formulating actions. Therefore, policy formulation and military leadership particularly in foreign leadership must be confined to the framework of such international treaties. However, Bacevich does not take into consideration the restrictions provided for by such international treaties and agreements when criticizing policy formulation as well as military and political leadership (Bacevich 36). For example, he condemns the United States for not being decisive on whether it should be involved in the war of for the greater Middle East. However, he does not evaluate the international agreements and treaties about involvement in a war that could have potentially informed the American position at the time. These among other examples demonstrate how he disregards the role of international tries in policy formulation when making his arguments.
Secondly, Bacevich makes several assumptions that are not entirely true. The effect of such assumptions is that they build his arguments on wrong precepts. Consequently, this makes the arguments either erroneous or irrelevant because they are based on the wrong assumption. For example, he assumes that America has an isolated mandate to deal with the menace of emerging criminal groups and Islamic extremism in the contemporary world. He argues that America deals with criminal groups by killing their leaders. According to him, this is ineffective in dealing with the problem of terrorism (Bacevich 28). However, terror groups operate in multiple countries. It is imperative to note that the United States does not have military jurisdictions over such countries except through international treaties. As such, it is illogical to expect the American government to take full responsibility for a global problem. Every country must play a part in dealing with the problem of terrorism. By killing the leader of such terror groups, the United States may not have succeeded in dealing with the problem, but have contributed their part in dealing with this problem. This example demonstrates several assumptions that he has relied on in making his arguments that are not entirely true.
Lastly, Bacevich is pessimistic about the United States military, policies, as well as leadership. Throughout his argument, he does not acknowledge any positive thing about the Military policies and leadership. He seems to criticize all policies as well leadership. He appears to suggest that all the American policies on military and foreign relations as well as political leaders are completely ineffective (Bacevich 60). As such, the argument in the book is deliberately skewed against the United States military system. This brings a sense of lack of objectivity in the argument presented.
In summary, “America’s war for the Great Middle East” discusses the inadequacies of the American military policies, as well as the political leadership as it relates to the military. Bacevich’s main argument is that the approach taken by a political leader, military leaders, and key military policymakers are largely ineffective and should be reconsidered with urgency. While supporting this point of view, Bacevich gives the example of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama as leaders whose strategies have largely incapacitated the military and the United States at large. He further gives examples of wars in which American military policies have come out to be reflexive. Bacevich has authoritatively structured his argument and used credible examples and evidence that make his argument persuasive. However, he relies on few assumptions that are not entirely true.
Bacevich, Andrew J. America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. Random House, 2017