tv Open Phones with Andrew Bacevich CSPAN January 3, 2017 12:45am-1:23am EST
most americans have forgotten that prior to 1980 the greater middle east wasn't on the military map and we didn't have the regional command to fight terror, we haven't made all the arrangements for bases. it's only after carter's statement the pentagon begins to move its priorities and is now prepared for the armed interventions in the region.n >> you also talk about the fact that prior to that, very few lives lost, american militarysti lives lost. after 1990, nearly all. >> sadly to someegree since the end of world war ii the 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 forces in europe. after world war ii we were prepared to fight in east asia and have fought before 1980 pretty substantial wars in asia one in korea and one in vietnam. we haven't been fighting that we are prepared to fight in the islamic world since 1990 strikingly virtually every american soldier who's been killed in combat has been killed in that part of the world and i believe it's something americans should be more attentive to what the geographical specificity. >> the numbers are on the screen if you want to chat with the retired army officer.
for those in the mountain and pacific time zones we will get to those calls right away. oil is always defined the race for the war on the greater middle east.lution >> on is the iranian revolution that perceived to be a great threat to u.s. interests in the region. the second events occurring in 1979 was the soviet invasion of afghanistan and the perception that washington is together those threatened our access to the persian gulf at the time when the american way of life seemed to bseems to be increasiy dependent on access to foreignd oil.
from the outset it wasn't explicitly stated a larger set of stakes and i think the larger was this had been a war intended to demonstrate we are a people to whom limits do not apply. we are a people who need not take into account theeci circumstances such as theresi resistance we face in the region and that defies the underlining purpose because when you think about it today, 2016, we don't neeneed oil from the region, we don't needhe natural gas from the regionnd yet the war continues as if on autopilot. o >> code that policy change? >> theoretically it could.at with anticipating what the next administration is going to do,
the president elect comments on the campaign trail and all over. the map. he has said things that would favor a less restrained policy that would say other things that suggest he is going to bite more deeply into his supposed secret plan to bring upon the destruction of isis. one of the reasons many of us are watching with fascination the rollout of appointments we imagine, maybe we are not right for these appointments give a clear understanding of what the trump administration will do looking beyond what he said while a candidate.ook auth
>> what is your background prior to being a book offer? >> i was a professional soldier my undergraduate degree is from west point. from the latter part of the cold war that when i got out of the army i became an academic historian by academic training and i think not so much as an academic but as a citizen had become increasingly concernedgur about what strikes me in the misguided direction of u.s. policy in a mean the misuse of excessive reliance on military power and if the way that we've used our military were making the world a better place if it were promoting the values we believe in and were enhancing
american security i might say let's go for it my own reading is the use of military power is doing none of those things and instead it's costing us tremendously lives lost and shattered, trillions of dollars expended and to what end. it seems our military engagement in the world has not succeeded. and indeed it has failed and it's incumbent upon americans to begin thinking about a different course. the purpose of my book is to try to promote an awareness of the failure of our military efforts and therefore to encourage americans to begin to think about the different course. >> here's the cover of the book america's war for the greater middle east as we listen to jim
in erie pennsylvania. >> thank you for taking my question.. he stayed the quandary in terms of what we are looking at. how do we disengage from the openly hostile islamic culture that seems to be intent on murdering as many people as possible and cares nothing about human rights and inspires terrorists all over the world to murder innocent people and if disengagement sounds nice in this type of culture clash i am a retired coast guard guy myself and i don't understand how we can sit here and say we need toe
disengage -- >> we got the point. let's hear from andrew. >> if we saw evidence that military engagement that the presence of u.s. versus in the region and us bombing and engaging them if that made the situation better than i would say let us continue that course. i don't see that evidence. it begins with the threat and i don't believe for a second that even isis poses an existential threat to the united states of america. i think the threat is relatively modest and the respons responsee differences here rather than to send u.s. forces around the region because the presence of
the forces makes the problem worse. furthermore, i would argue strongly that those countries pose an and a substantial threae are talking about iraq, iran, saudi arabia, egypt.le they need to own this problem and were they to do so and take ownership and se to set aside tr differences on other matters to collaborate against the threat posed by isis i think they could handle that threat. let's think about isis probably 25 or 30,000 fighters, no weapons of mass destruction, no significant resources, no allies to speak of. were the countries in the region to focus their collective efforts on defeating isis and restoring the assemblies they could do so. our diplomatic task is to
promote their understanding of the competitive. >> call from catskill new york. >> my reading suggests that began in 1954 when we helped the british and i would like to know if you agree with that and where you see us and where di a scener stakes begin.s a mi >> the subtitle of the book is a military history and what i'm trying to explain us with what the united states has been doing with its military and i would argue strongly prior to 1980 d. involvement in the region was minimal but the point that you're making is a good one by not arguing prior to 1980 the u.s. had a policy in the region. we did have a policy and interest and the example that you cite is a very good example
of how misguided or policy was even before 1980. >> next call was from daniel in california. go ahead.question i don't know whether to address my question to professor, doctor or colonel. does the concept of radicalte islamic terrorism have any relevance in our political discussion, it was made to be quite a big deal recently and also what is the policy towards isis? >> i'm hesitant to get bogged down in this debate about the terms that can be used and cannot be used.
there certainly is a strain of thought islam as an ideology to which some people adhere to a. by wenstrup acted against muslims and state institutions in that part of the world but i would hasten to add that the problem is more complex than we that. we have a historic antagonism between islamic civilization and the west that probably can be traced back to the crusades but we have here is the legacy of european imperialism
particularly british imperialism, we have the result of the reckless dismantling of the ottoman empire.e what we have here is an endemic economic underdevelopment of local leaders who are corrupt and unenlightened and they also have shortsighted u.s. policiesi that i think have contributed to making matters worse. so, my point here would be that i urge people to push back against the notion that there's a single explanation for the turmoil in the region and indeeg to embrace the notion that there are a multiplicity of causes that really provides a further caution against the notion that further u.s. military action is somehow going to fix matters.
>> donald trump will be the 13th president since harry truman in 1946 to deal with the middle east. who's gotten it right in the past for you? >> nobody has gotten it right and despite the fact of the wayy eisenhower was the president when we overthrew, i think that eisenhower came closer to getting it right then then any other president. we eisenhower believed that we needed to find some way to have a modicum of relationships with the arab world. eisenhower was quite reticent about the commitments to israel that would undermine thewi possibility of having decent relations with the arab worldma
coming 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 the war really should be a last resort that has tended not to be the case with more recent presidents. >> doylestown pennsylvania, and you are on book tv. we are listening.d evenin .. 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 simp in u.s. military had circl 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 convicon that adership 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 wn 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
. >> but that phenomenon that is important to talk about because no man was willing to do so of how they perceive their rules they are still seen as something as an - - so they are subject to greater scrutiny but perhaps they're more willing because they want to prove they can do it. and then of proverbial hit the fan