tv Open Phones with Andrew Bacevich CSPAN November 19, 2016 5:50pm-6:31pm EST
george bush and close to the bush family, gates was. and when obama came in he reappointed him but two and a half years later there was tension inside a republican doing things and gates was very much against some of the things that happened in the operation. he thought we should bomb the place and let it go and not jeopardize the seals. they would be accused, they had not protection, they were committing a war crime and prisoner of wars and they competent cue -- executed a prisoner of war and in a country without authority. that's theoretically what happened. what's so important about pakistan, cozing up to the generals around it. when i wrote about it in the new yorker in 2009, more than a hundred nuclear weapons and we worry about their weapons, we are worried about their safety.
there's a huge muslim fundamentalist population in pakistan and the reason that the pakistanis never said anything publicly about having them is when they told us, he came in, it could be earlier. the pakistani's kept them secretly because the public will go nuts. the public loved bin laden. 450% of the country saw him as a hero and so as long as they had bin laden they can privately tell al-qaeda groups and both pakistan and afghanistan, we have your guy, pay more attention to us, keep us informed, they had more control. that was their argument, the second argument they made is explanation for keeping them is the saudis paid him a lot of money. the saudi arabian came from big
construction family, not royal family but major constructionists in building and very wealthy and the assumption we make and i make is that nobody wanted an american interrogation team to talk to him. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> book tv's live programming from the miami book fair continues this evening. we are now joined by andrew who is the author of this book, america's war for the greater middle east. professor, when you say greater middle east, what do you mean? >> well, i'm talking about a very large swath of the islamic world. i could have called it america's war in the middle east but it seems to me to use that narrower term really understates the
expanse over which we have been involved, certainly includes places like afghanistan which doesn't fall in what we think of as the middle east. frankly now includes very large parts of central and western africa which again doesn't fall within the typical definition middle east. >> why was the year 1990 so significant? >> the year significant is 1980. basically said the persian gulf is national security interest and more to the point in place that the united states is worth fighting for. we have been involved milt -- militarily and prior to 1980's the greater middle east wasn't on our map.
we hadn't made all the arrangements for basements or overflight rides. is now prepared for what then becomes interventions in the regions. >> prior to that, very few lives lost, military lives lost. >> i do. sadly i think to some degree, since the end of world war ii the american military has been pretty darn busy, certainly since world war ii we've been prepared to fight for europe, even today we still have substantial u.s. forces in europe. after world war ii, we are prepared to fight in east asia and indeed, had fought before
1980 had fought two substantial wars in korea and one in vietnam and we weren't fighting and weren't prepare today fight in the islamic world since 1990 strikingly. something that americans should be more attentive to. >> now, the numbers are up on the screen if you want to chat with professor andrew, retired army officer as well, his book america's war for the greater middle east. 202 is the area. 748-8200, 748-8201 in mountain time zones. we will get to those calls right away. professor, you write that oil
has always defined the war in the greater middle east. >> the initial. the events that prompted president carter to promulgate the carter doctrine were two, one was the iranian revolution which has been revolution and the second soviet invasion in afghanistan. that said, there really was not explicitly stated a larger set of stakes. and the larger stake was that
this has a war intended to demonstrate that we are a people to whom limits do not apply, that we are a people who need not take into account circumstances such as the resistance we face in that region and that that really defines the underlying purpose because when you think about it today 2016, and yet this war continues as if on autopilot. >> with a president trump coming into the office could the policy change? >> theoretically it could. the problem with anticipating what the next administration is going to do is that the president elect's comments with regard to foreign policy on the campaign trail have been all over the map. he has said things at times that
suggest that he would favor a less militaristic more retrain but on other days he said other things that suggest that he's going to dive more deeply into region with supposed secret plan or bring construction -- deconstruction of isis. give us a clearer understanding of what a trump administration actually will do looking beyond what trump himself said while a candidate. >> now, you've written several books, what's your background prior to being a book author? >> well, i was a professional soldier for 23 years, my undergraduate agree is was from
west point and served in vietnam. i spent a lot of time serving in europe during the latter part of the cold war but -- but when i got out of the army, i became academic, i'm a historian by academic training and i think not so much as academic but as a citizen had become increasingly concerned about what strikes me as the misguided direction of u.s. policy and when i say misguided direction, i mean, the misuse and excessive reliance on military power and, you know, if the way we've used our military were making the world a better place, if it were promoting the values we believe in, if we were enhancing american security, then i might say, well, let's go for it, but my own reading of the situation is that our use of military power is doing none of those things.
instead it is costing us tremendously lives lost, lives shattered, trillions of dollars expended and -- and to what end? it seems to me that particularly our military engagement in the islamic world has not -- has not succeeded, indeed, it has failed and therefore it's incumbent upon americans to begin thinking about a different course and the purpose of my book is to try to promote an awareness of the failure of military and encouraging americans to begin to think about that different course. >> here is the cover of the book, america's war for the greater middle east as we listen to jim in eary, pennsylvania. go ahead, jim. >> caller: thank you for taking my question. i guess that the general state
it is quandary in terms of what we are looking at. how do we disengage from a blatantly hostile islamic culture that seems to be intent on murdering as many innocent people as possible, cares nothing about human rights and dispatches terrorists all over the world to murder innocent people? but in this type of culture clash, clashes i use, i'm a retired coast guard myself, exmilitary. i don't understand how we can disengage when we are dealing with a bunch of people who want to murder us. ..
iran, saudi arabia, arguably turkey, arguably, jipght. they need to own this problem and were they to do so and take ownership, were they to set aside their differences on other matters, and to collaborate dpens the threat posed by isis, i believe they could handle that threat. let's think about isis probably what -- 25, 30,000 spiders. no air force, no navy. no weapon of mass disruption. no significant resources. no allies to speak of. were the countries in the region to focus their collective efforts on defeating isis and restoring assemblance of stability they could do so. our diplomatic task is to promote their understanding of that imperative. calling from new york. ken. >> thank you so much.
my readings suggest to me that together many 1954 when we helped the british get rid -- i like to agree with that and where you see us, and to get . thank you. >> you know, the sub title of the book is a military history, and what i'm trying to explain is what the united states has been doing with its military. and i would argue strongly that prior to 19 80 our military presence and involvement in a region was minimal. but the point you are making is very good one. i'm not arguing and one should not argue that priority 1980 just had no policy in the region. we did have a policy. we have interest. and the example you cite of cia's involvement in the overthrow of the deck in iran, is a very good example of how misguided our policy was even before 1980.
next call comes from daniel in yucaipa, california, daniel go ahead. >> so yes i don't know whether to address my question to professor, doctor, or colonel but anyway, professor -- did the concept or does the concept of radical islamic terrorism have any relevance in our political discussion? it was made to be quite a big deal of the election here recently. and also what is you think russia's policy towards isis? >> well, let me focus on the first one and -- i'm hesitant to get bogged down in this debate about terms that can be used and cannot be used. there's certainly -- is a strain i would say really teffly small into larger scheme of things a --
a strain of islam as an i had ideology to find expression then in violence directed some of the violence directed against the west, violence directed against muslims and state institutions in that part of the world but hasten to add that problem is a lot more complex than that. that these sources of dysfunction that we see are multiple. what do we got going on here. that what we have is a historic antagonism between islamic civilization and the west that probably can be traced back to the crusade. but what we have here is the legacy of european imperialism. particularly british imperialism. what we have here is the result of a reckless dismantling of the autumn empire at the end of world war i.
what we have here is pandemic economic underdevelopment of local leaders who are corrupt and unenlightened and we also have shortsighted u.s. policies that i think have contributed to making matters worse. so my point here would be that -- i -- i urge people to push back against the notion that there's a single explanation for the turmoil in the region and indeed to embracing the notion of a multiplicity of causes provides a further caution against the notion that further u.s. military action is somehow going to, going to mix matters because there's noafd to support that to support that expectation. >> andrew, donald trump will be the 13th president since harry truman 1946 to deal with the
middle east who has gotten it right in the past for you? >> well, nobody has fully gotten it right. and despite the fact that dwight eisenhower was president when we overthrew, i think that eisenhower came closer to getting it right than any other president. eisenhower believed that we needed to find some way to have -- have a modicum of relations with the arab world. eisenhower was quite red about a commitment to israel that would undermine the possibility of having decent relations with the arab world. and certainly eisenhower as a matter of principle was exceedingly hesitant about using american military power not simply in the middle east but anywhere else.
eisenhower believed that war with really should be a last resort that has tended not took the case. with more recent presence. >> hanukkah in pennsylvania, hanukkah you're on booktv. we're listening. >> hi, good evening as largest arm dealers in the world how can we direct our military support that influences three large entities -- [inaudible] without imposing our own interest and helping to create a potential collapse of the entire middle east? >> well, it's a great question. and i -- i think i agree with the premise of that question. that is to say for too long now, success of administration have acted on the assumption that selling arms to our so-called
friends in the region ultimately promotes, wins friends inthriewnses poem and promotes stability. and i think that in particular of late, we see that that assumption is utterly false. saudi arabia is involved in a war with in yemen. their aircraft to being refueled by american planes. aircraft they're flying are u.s. manufactured. and drop in american weapon -- i don't see that being good for anybody and good for the united states so there really needs to be a re-examination of our arm sales policies. >> and we're talking with retired boston university professor andrew, about his most recent book america's war for the greater middle east. a military history here is the cover and let's listen next to paul in san diego. paul, go ahead with your question or comment. >> hi, thank you so very much
for taking my call and thank you for c-span and guest, my question is this: what type of rip the effects would happen if there was a solution to the palestinian issue is there really mission impossible and if it isn't, if we could get it done, what do you see happening in the region? and thank you so much and i'll take any question with out there. >> thank you, sir. >> sadly i think it is mission impossible because neither of the two sides palestinians or government of israel are seriously committed to that. and i think that the expansion of settlements in the the west bank which a government of israel routinely applies makes the prospect of two state solution more distant. i think frankly we're at the point where we should acknowledge that's a complete fiction. sadly i say that because to your point, i think that point is a very good one. there was a long stand argument
that we tend to hear from the -- from arab and that is that -- that were -- were the international community to defectively to the grievances of the palestinians that that could have the effect of reducing the antagonism in the islamic world directed to the united states. now, in particular supporters of israel say that that's nonsense. but i would argue that we have a very strong interest, our interest in testing the proposition. so we have a strong interest in -- in seeing the creation of a sovereign palestinian state thord to find the if that could possibly be a way to again to alleviating tag nism directed at united states. >> andrew if somebody is in favor of a two-state solution, are they anti-israel?
>> i don't believe so, i would argue and certainly not on one who make this is argument that the two state solution is in the long-term interest of the state of israel that really absent two state solution. the prospects of israel continuing to be both a jewish state and a democracy are -- are a pretty slim and indeed with the passage of time, and with the expansion of the israeli u jewish presence into the west bank, that -- that the government of israel is simply creating barrier or obstacles to that long-term stated goal of the israeli government to ensure that israel is both a jewish state and a democratic state. i would very much like to see israel continue to be a jewish state and a democratic state. i believe that the policies of
the government of israel are exceedingly short sited in that regard and may prove to be counterproductive in the long-term. >> next call gregory sherman oaks california, you're on booktv. >> hello, andrew and hello c-span i really love this program. a year ago in the middle of the iraq war, a proposal appeared in solar today magazine for a u.s. program that would have provided millions of sol solar panels to the cities and villages and neighborhoods of iraq which would have provided thousands of tens of thousands of jobs for iraqis otherwise became combatant and would have provided something that iraqis and the region really needed. their electricity is very spotty and is, in fact, a part of the conflict turning power on and off to different neighborhoods. it could have been done for a fraction of the multitrillion dollar cost of the iraq war and with low risk to american lives and it would be a template for
something that the u.s. and rich nations could and still should do i think across the middle east and global sun belt. and so i wonder is this still any realistic possibility that a program of mass and solar energy aid to the middle east and world's other literally hot and bothered and conflicted regions could be -- could plant at least a major part of this endless war and that serves no problem and instead something -- >> i think we got the point gregory. let's hear from andrew. >> i'm not able to comment on the feasibility of that kind of a project. but the premise of the question deserves our attention and that is to say that -- the result of our expectation, that military power can provide a solution to the problem. will ultimately cost us trillions of dollars. now, if we go back to 2003 when
george w. bush administration invaded iraq they did did not anticipate what the full cost would be, and indeed part of the judgment of that administration is their failure to understand what was had actually going to ensue. but the real point would be that -- the need to consider alternatives to simply further accident pendture of military power whether it's solar panels or irrigation or -- some other program of economic development, ultimately the -- nurtureing, functioning, stable society is going to require something other than simply dropping bombs and conducting military campaigns on the ground. and i think your question makes that point very nicely.
>>, is there a tendency towards group thinking in the pentagon in a military circle or is there a pretty robust debate that goes on before policy or implement? >> i don't have great insight into what they talk about in the pentagon these days because i've been out of the army for quite some period of time. but i think, i think there's group think within any institution. and as a matter of fact the older the institution probably the tighter the grip of group think. certainly the united states military understandably the united states military -- wishes to sustain its status in our society. which is to sustain its prerogative in simple terms wishes to sustain the exceedingly high level of defense spending that has come to be routine. that doesn't preclude the possibility, however, of members of the officer corps. particularly those who have served in the greater middle
east over these recent decades of coming to some thoughtful, critical conclusions about whether or not what we're doing is working. i don't know. what happened in these internal conversations? my hope is indeed my bed bet is that there may be serious thinking going on within military circles, you know now that we're facing this new trump administration i think one of the questions is, will our next president, is he the kind of guy who was willing to sit down with our four-star military leadership and to -- and to be open to what they may have learned as a consequence of our recent wars? i hope he would be -- open doesn't mean defer. open doesn't mean do whatever the generals want. but open means a willingness to think anew rather than simple lil continue down the same path.
>> laura your question or comment for andrew. >> oh, hi and thank you for taking my question. i heard you, tuned in earlier are and i heard you talking about foreign oil. and my husband he works offshore, and there's -- i'm sure you know oil so low, and there's a lot of people that either has been lated off or, you know, ones that haven't been laid off have taken several pay cuts. anyway, my question for you was do you think that the reason oil is so low here is because we're so -- getting way too much foreign oil? question was -- >> laura oil price clear could you repeat your question -- >> i'm sorry. my question was do you think that reason oil has went so low here in the u.s. because we're -- we're acquiring too much foreign oil?
>> foreign oil domestic oil and again, i want to add into what she had to say but you said this earlier that the wars in the middle east are kind of on autopilot now. even though we're energy independent in this country. >> i think that price of oil is -- a function of supply and demand. and for all kind of reasons to include the development of new sources of oil and natural gas in the western hemisphere supplies are up osama bin laden dee who is supplier of last resort wish to have for their own technical reason like to have the price of oil remain low and they have the ability by controlling the bigot to a considerable extent to control price of oil so i think that's -- for explanation of why the price of oil is what it is, i think we should probably look, look toed
saudis but to the point you remember raising -- i'm surprised by how little discussion there is of these strategic implication of the transformation of the global energy environment and the ability that we now know that -- the oil and gas reserve in north america are far greater than we imagined 20 or 30 years ago. i think that strategic implication should be huge and should promote people asking questions about why -- why do we still consider saudi arabia, for example, this crucial alley. where do question still assign such importance to the persian gulf? but that discussion hasn't happened. >> greg. think cloud, florida, good evening from booktv, you're on the air. >> thank you, sir. good evening, professor basevich
my question to you why does the united states have to get involved in every military action outside of our borders? why is it that we just cannot protect our borders and be done with it? >> great question, i apologize -- i don't know where this cough kale from. gave him a cough drop and show you the covert book one more time. greg we're not ignoring but vamping so that professor gets a changes to tack a cough drop. sip of water american's war for the greater middle east is the cover of the book of military history and he's going to answer your question i promise greg we're not avoiding you. [laughter] >> a great question -- >> tell you what -- we're going to give you a chance. tell you what greg we're going to come back to question and will not forget it but just a because of his cough let's go ahead had and hear from david in
west lynn, oregon, as well, and we'll get him to answer both questions. okay, david go ahead. >> hi, general thank you for your service. my question has to do with saudi arabia about a year ago i heard a report that got released from the pentagon that the funding and coordination of 9/11 traced right back into central governing elements of saudi arabia. and more specifically the royal family. and i mean, all rational sort of starting position on neive would have to this could that the bin laden and house of saud close to that event. that all hands on deck for them. so knowing that, i was just wondering what the -- response is. >> okay thank you very much. >> question what we know and what we suspect. and first of all we don't know as citizens we don't know
everything. but i think we -- what question do know is that -- wealthy individuals in saudi arabia have for years and decades been using their wealth to promote a radical version of islam. what we don't know some allege some suspect, but we don't know that the decision makers in the royal family are directly complicit in that. in other words, we know that elements within saudi arabia have promoted radicalism but don't know that royal family was in bed with -- osama bin laden now the question is why this fancying that the united states has to employ military power to solve every problem in the world?
as a great question and there's no easy answer. but i think one -- one part of the answer and important part of the answer is to acknowledge what you were referring to a minute ago of group -- and there's a strong element of group think not simply in u.s. military had circles but to larger extent in u.s. political circles. that imagines and indeed assert that we are the indispensable nation that the global order can not manage or police itself absent, our leadership. a conviction a further conviction that leadership means using america hurl power. i mean, there are other definition was leadership. leadership can be lead by example. demonstrate bit way we run our country. that our values do have value.
thatthat we do things in ways tt other nations may wish to -- to embrace so this mindset i think is incredibly powerful and i think this is where it becomes interesting to think about what trump is going to do. because he is not of that establishment. indeed in many rpghts he got elected because he says, we're going to drain the swamp. we're going to take down this -- establishment . i don't know that he'll even try to do and i don't believe that he's succeed but to the extent that he succeeds or tries one of the interesting things to say what's his alternative? to this washington mindset and this conviction that we have to lead, lead the world and leading the world somehow has requires that use of military power. >> let's hear from gary in southfield, massachusetts.
gary you're the lasted word. >> thank you. thanks for c-span. and doctor, drps vich i get a feeling that you want the country to become isolationists. i don't feel like we can get out of the area that we're in. i think we have to let our new administration go in there and get rid of these people that want to kill us. i don't -- i don't feel it's going to do anything and when you talk about draining the swamp, i don't feel what's been going on with our country has been good for the people of our country. we've become -- and not a democratic society anymore. and i think we're going to get back to that. and the people have been sick of the way things have been going on. and i hope for our sake that our
new president will listen to the general and work with everyone across the aisle and get our country going in the right direction again. because we're 20 trillion dollars in debt. >> thank you very much. andrew last word. >> yeah, okay. i mean, you know -- it's funny any time anybody suggest a somewhat more restrained approach to policy, the response is oh, i guess you must be an isolationist and i reject that. seems to me that what we should, the label we should all want to have is pragmatism what works and what doesn't work. if you think that, our efforts are used to our military in the middle east is making things better, if you believe that, then vote for it. i see no evidence of that happening. so seems to me it's time for us to look for an alternative. and i'm not sure how many people -- we would have to kill in order
to make the dysfunction of this part of the world go away but it's going to be a great big, big number and for those who are bothered by the size of the deficit endless war. guarantees that that deficit is going to not only continue the but is going to skyrocket so people who are concerned about about our fiscal circumstance should also be prague pragmatisn it comes to u.s. military policy and should think very carefully before insisting there's no alternative but to dive in deeper and to a circumstance that we've already made a mess of. >> the book america's war for the greater middle east of military history. andrew is the author and we appreciate you being on booktv from miami. >> thank you. >> well one more event tonight and this is senator bernie sanders talking about his book our revolution. he's up in the booktv room which is prate well packed with people
who want to hear senator sanders also out on the street. booktv has a large screen tv set up through miami-dade college. showing this event so there are people watching it there as well. and he's due to begin in just a minute or so you'll hear from mitch kaplan who is the owner of books and books bookstore and one of the founders of the miamibook festival he'll be helping with the introduction and questions. you'll hear from him in just a minute but we thought you might want to see the room see soflt folks and see some of the activity going on so i'm going to go now to the booktv room here at miami-dade college senator bernie sanders our revolution. ♪