July 4 weekend is a good time to think about great Americans. And if there's a great American thinker in 2009, I nominate Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who now teaches international relations at Boston University. Not only did Bacevich serve the nation in Vietnam and elsewhere around the globe, but his family made the ultimate sacrifice when his son -- also named Andrew Bacevich, a first lieutenant -- was killed in Iraq by an IED in 2007. By then, Bacevich, a self-described "Catholic conservative," had already been highly critical of the U.S. invasion, and the increasing role that militarism -- as opposed to diplomacy -- and a quest for American domination was playing in our national life.
I've kind of overdosed on Bacevich lately -- I was just finishing his outstanding book, "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism," this week when I heard most of his hour-long interview on WHYY's "Radio Times" (which you can listen to here). His writing speaks truly to neither classical, locked-in liberalism or conservatism, but seeks to find a rational role for America in the 21st Century, as opposed to untenable policies based on cheap oil and long -- endless, in fact -- wars.
"The Limits of Power" was written at the very start of the 2008 campaign and was published last summer. In its conclusion, Bacevich wrote something strikingly prophetic for 2009, when President Obama has been disappointing in several key areas in delivering the change he promised, sometimes because of external forces and sometimes for reasons that are self-inflicted.
Here's what he wrote last year, with hyperlinks from 2009 to illustrate the power of his prophecy:
Have a great holiday weekend.
(Associated Press photo)