Andrew J. Bacevich is the president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His analysis of international affairs combines both his expertise as a practitioner (retired United States Army Colonel) and academic (Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton). A prolific author, his most recently published book is After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed.
The Realist Review was lucky enough to ask this preeminent scholar of prudent foreign policy three questions in an exclusive interview.
Realist Review: Your program at the Quincy Institute is named “Ending Endless Wars.” What progress has been made so far towards this goal in the short lifetime of the Quincy Institute, and what are the next steps that need to happen?
Andrew Bacevich: Our aim is to move US policy away from militarism and towards an approach to policy based on pragmatism, prudence, and restraint. This is a large ambition, so we take a long view.
That said, we note that the term “restraint” is now very much a part of the conversation. We take that as evidence that we are making an impact. That said, we have a long way to go.
RR: In this era of renewed great power competition (or, in Pentagon-speak, “near peer competitors”), how useful are Cold War metaphors for understanding what American policy should be towards China?
AB: They are not useful in any way.
Today’s China does not remotely compare to the USSR of the 1950s and 1960s. No doubt the PRC is a competitor. But the terms of the competition are radically different from what they were during the Cold War.
RR: What is one lesson from your professional career you wish you could impart on the next generation of American foreign policy leaders?
I am not a pacifist and I am not anti-military. That said, using force is an inherently risky proposition likely to yield unintended and unwelcome consequences.
We can rely on military power to contain, deter, and contain, but that’s about it.
To read more of Andrew Bacevich’s writings, visit quincyinst.org