28 March 2012

Moyers and Bacevich: Endless War

"As prophet, Reinhold Niebuhr warned that what he called 'our dreams of managing history' — dreams borne out of a peculiar combination of arrogance, hypocrisy, and self-delusion — posed a large and potentially mortal threat to the United States. Today we ignore that warning at our peril.

Since the end of the Cold War the management of history has emerged as the all but explicitly stated purpose of American statecraft. In Washington, politicians speak knowingly about history's clearly discerned purpose and about the responsibility of the United States, at the zenith of its power, to guide history to its intended destination.

In Niebuhr's view, although history may be purposeful, it is also opaque, a drama in which both the story line and the dénouement remain hidden from view. The twists and turns that the plot has already taken suggest the need for a certain modesty in forecasting what is still to come. Yet as Niebuhr writes, 'modern man lacks the humility to accept the fact that the whole drama of history is enacted in a frame of meaning too large for human comprehension or management.'

Such humility is in particularly short supply in present-day Washington. There, especially among neoconservatives and neoliberals, the conviction persists that Americans are called up on to serve, in Niebuhr's most memorable phrase, 'as tutors of mankind in its pilgrimage to perfection.'"

Andrew J. Bacevich

I might have subtitled this, A Plunder Society: The Three Trillion Dollar self-serving adventures of the military-industrial empire.

Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

Calgacus, as chronicled by Tacitus in his Agricola

The homepage for this interview is here.