Andrew Bacevich at Labyrinth

Andrew Bacevich, the author of The Limits of American Power, will be speaking at Labyrinth Books on Tuesday at 5:30. Bacevich, a professor of International Relations at Boston University, is a Vietnam Veteran who rose to the rank of colonel in the army. Bacevich’s son was killed in Iraq in 2007.

Bacevich is kind of a traditionalist-realist conservative; he famously made the conservative case for Obama in an article in The American Conservative in early 2008.

Bacevich testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. The Globe says:

Bacevich said there are better ways to protect the United States against terrorist attacks than to invade and occupy countries, such as treating them as a global criminal network. But he did not propose an immediate, complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, but said providing incentives for tribes to keep Al Qaeda out of their area might prove a more successful outcome than nation-building.

In this Newsweek column from last year, Bacevich hits some of the same notes: he talks about a “political solution” for Afghanistan, one that would involve providing “incentives” for warlords to help us keep their domains terrorist-free.

Interestingly, while Bacevich apparently buys into the growing consensus that Afghanistan’s primary significance is in its relationship to the Pakistan problem, he reads the dynamic differently than most. While many argue that we need to maintain a presence in Afghanistan with an eye toward Pakistan, Bacevich worries that we’re essentially chasing insurgents across the border where they’ll do much graver harm.


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