Lessons From America’s War for the Greater Middle East

Andrew Bacevich in Notre Dame Magazine:

ScreenHunter_726 Jul. 25 17.10For well over 30 years now, the United States military has been intensively engaged in various quarters of the Islamic world. An end to that involvement is nowhere in sight.

Tick off the countries in that region that U.S. forces in recent decades have invaded, occupied, garrisoned, bombed or raided and where American soldiers have killed or been killed. Since 1980, they include Iraq and Afghanistan, of course. But also Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan. The list goes on.

To judge by various official explanations coming out of Washington, the mission of the troops dispatched to these various quarters has been to defend or deter or liberate, punishing the wicked and protecting the innocent while spreading liberal values and generally keeping Americans safe.

What are we to make of the larger enterprise in which the U.S. forces have been engaged since well before today’s Notre Dame undergraduates were even born? What is the nature of the military struggle we are waging? What should we call it?

For several years after 9/11, Americans referred to it as the Global War on Terrorism, a misleading term that has since fallen out of favor.

More here. [Thanks to Christopher Lydon.]