American Conspiracy

The Wilson Quarterly, autumn, 98-100
Review of Andrew Bacevich’s Washington Rules. America’s Path to Permanent War, Henry Holt, 286 pages.

Over the past five years, Andrew Bacevich has emerged as one of the most prolific and eloquent critics of American foreign policy. In several influential books and essays, Bacevich, a professor of international relations and history at Boston University, has often walked the fine line between scholarship and mass-audience opinionating. As a self-styled realist, he has mostly crafted these positions with detached, historically balanced analysis.

Washington Rules breaks with this trend: It is the passionate, personal, and polemical story of how Bacevich, as an Army officer visiting Berlin in 1990, embarked on an educational journey that led him to discover the ideological roots of America’s path to permanent war. At times Washington Rules articulates a sophisticated critique of the United States’ global ambitions. But with this book, Bacevich is dancing along another line. He now has at least one foot in the murky territory of conspiracy theory.


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