chris hedges report Foreign Policy History

The Chris Hedges Report: Andrew Bacevich on His Book ‘After the Apocalypse’ and the Folly of Endless War

Andrew Bacevich, from Boston University, speaks during a panel discussion that was part of the 2012 Current Strategy Forum at the U.S. Naval War College. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Dietrich/Released)

By Chris Hedges

Listen to the podcast here.

In the months of July and September 1940 the French historian and future resistance fighter Marc Bloch, who fought in World War I and World War II, wrote a short book called L’Étrange Défaite or Strange Defeat. It was a searing condemnation of the French high command and political class which was responsible for the humiliating defeat and disintegration of the French army with the Nazi invasion of France. Bloch, who went underground to fight the Nazi occupiers, was executed by the Gestapo in 1944. His book, published after the war, was the model for historian Andrew Bacevich’s book After the Apocalypse. In his book Bloch wrote: “Our war up to the very end, was a war of old men, or of theorists who were bogged down in errors, engendered by the faulty teaching of history. It was saturated by the smell of decay…” Bacevich is no less censorious of the political and military class that has led the United States into one debacle after the next since Vietnam, a war he served in as a young officer. He argues they are woefully out of touch with reality, crippled by self-delusion and unable to adapt to a changing world. Unless they are wrenched from power, he argues, the twilight of the American empire will be one filled, especially given our refusal to seriously address the climate crisis, with catastrophe after catastrophe. Joining me to discuss his book After the Apocalypse is retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich and emeritus professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He is also the cofounder and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.


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Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

6 comments

  1. I have a problem with Americans who oppose the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine obligatorily declaring outrage that Russia violated international law by invading Ukraine. Yes, “Russia’s war” is beyond horrible, as all wars are, including the 8-year U.S-backed war of annihilation waged by Ukrainian Nazis bent on cleansing eastern Ukraine of ethnically Russian, Russian-speaking Ukrainians, killing more than 14,000 people for the unforgivable crime of being ethnically Russian.

    Ukrainian Nazis’ U.S.-backed war to ethnically cleanse Ukraine of Russian-speaking Ukrainians began in May, 2014, when a violent group of Ukrainian Nazis immolated — yes, burned to death by setting fire with Molotov cocktails a government building into which they had retreated — dozens of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Odessa who were peacefully protesting the U.S.-installed right-wing coup governments’ stated intention to repeal Ukraine’s regional language law, in which case teaching school or interacting with government using the Russian language would no longer be allowed in the Donbas. This is equivalent to outlawing French in Quebec or Spanish or Chinese in San Francisco.

    In Sept., 2014, and March, 2015, France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine negotiated the Minsk accords, which if implemented would have ended the Ukrainian Nazi’s U.S.-backed war of annihilation being waged in the Donbas. Ukraine did not implement these accords, and in 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected in a landslide promising to implement them.

    The U.S. blocked implementation of these accords.

    In fact, the U.S. repeatedly ignored, derided, and rejected repeated Russian pleas to negotiate an end to the U.S. Donbas proxy war, most notably in December, 2021, while Russia was massing troops on Ukraine’s border two months before Russia launched its invasion, and in April, 2022, when Russia and Ukraine seemed to have reached an agreement negotiated in Turkey and the U.S. dispatched Boris Johnson to tell Zelensky neither the U.S. nor the U.K. would guarantee Ukraine’s security if the agreed ceasefire were implemented.

    The story goes on and on. These are the bare details.

    This war, like every coup, war, and proxy war the U.S. perpetrates, provokes, encourages, and supports is the U.S.’s to allow to end. Bullies like the U.S. and the Nazis in Ukraine always play the victim when someone stands up to them. This war could end tomorrow if the U.S. would allow it to. Legal technicalities never stopped the U.S. from killing millions of people in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Panama, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya or any of the endless litany of its imperial crimes.

    Please don’t tell me Russia’s special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine is illegal. Tell it to the U.S., who orchestrated the 2014 coup, arm and train Ukrainian nationalist fanatics, and refuse to allow a negotiated settlement of this war.

    1. Absolutely. Greed and powerlust kills free speech as well as life. The obligatory “of course Russia, Putin was wrong, ruthless, criminal, what have you…” must be inserted or the forum ceases to exist. The root of evil and the banality of evil together continue their march through the world.

    2. @Bill Agree whole heartedly with your take. I am a fan of both men but this outcry of an illegal war by them only feeds the propaganda machine that the Russians are evil and their country needs to be dismantled. I am not a proponent of war but the guiding moral compass of the Gita (which inspired Ghandi) is about a righteous battle where the main combatants are family members. The Russians had no choice as far as I can see, it just like in the Gita. The Gita stresses that when wrongs have been committed, they must be set right by good men. I see Putin playing the role of Arjuna in this war.

  2. Is not the use of the military much the same in historical records? One side has something that the other side wants, be it gold, oil, diamonds, geographical position etc.. So the attacker must make up an excuse for attacking the other side to shield its real motive for taking resources. So the propaganda of demonizing the “other” begins and intensifies as one sides army blows the crap out of the other side.

    The bigger the country, the more it needs propaganda to justify its attack on the smaller to make the larger countries population go along with the carnage. Yes. the thinking should change but the reality is still “Might makes right and profits too” even though the world could suffer mass devastation.

    One positive thing the U.S. could do is to promote alternatives to military service. Young folks could have the opportunity of serving their country right here on their own soil rather than experience all the hypocrisy and hardship of going elsewhere in the world to secure resources for the corporate class.

    Does anyone in congress have the guts to promote something so simple?

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