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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (415 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Andrew J. Bacevich, Andrew Bacevich Narrator: Sean Runnette Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: American Empire Project Release Date: August 2010 ISBN: 9781427209528
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The bestselling author of The Limits of Power critically examines the Washington consensus on national security and why it must change

For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America's military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.

In a vivid, incisive analysis, Andrew J. Bacevich succinctly presents the origins of this consensus, forged at a moment when American power was at its height. He exposes the preconceptions, biases, and habits that underlie our pervasive faith in military might, especially the notion that overwhelming superiority will oblige others to accommodate America's needs and desires—whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods. And he challenges the usefulness of our militarism as it has become both unaffordable and increasingly dangerous.

Though our politicians deny it, American global might is faltering. This is the moment, Bacevich argues, to reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world—to acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. Replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America's future, and may yet offer the key to the country's salvation.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Bacevich, who has excellent credentials and writes with authority about military strategy and international politics, deserves a hearing. The Boston Globe
  • “This audiobook is a devastating indictment of the Pentagon's insular war machine and our leaders' refusal to adapt to changing geopolitical conditions, and will motivate listeners and voters to reexamine our role in international affairs, and an eye (and ear) toward sanity. Tower Review, Jonathan Lowe

  • Washington Rules is a tough-minded, bracing and intelligent polemic against some 60 years of American militarism. . . . As foreign policy debates in the run-up to the November elections degenerate into Muslim-bashing bombast, the country is lucky to have a fierce, smart peacemonger like Bacevich. New York Times Book Review
  • Eloquent and, above all, passionate. . . Any serious foreign-policy thinker should heed his call. Newsweek
  • Brilliant. . . A convincing critique of America's conduct of war since 1941. . . . Bacevich advocates a more level-headed assessment of danger, advice all the more cogent since it comes from a former soldier. Washington Post
  • A reader doesn't have to be a policy wonk to appreciate Bacevich's methodical analysis. It's a reality check: crisp, cogent and straightforward. The Buffalo News
  • Engaging and insightful. . . A timely analysis and critique of contemporary and historical defense policies. His writing style is anything but wonkish, and he is great at the clever turn of phrase. . . . Thought provoking. The Washington Times
  • Bacevich hits upon a truth that cannot be dismissed. . . Eloquent and damning. . . impressively reader-friendly. Bacevich writes with a gut-wrenching honesty that gives his charges a credibility frequently missing in pop denunciations of America's imperial outreach. . . . One of the best accounts we have of our childlike dependence on the security war-making seems to offer but never quite delivers. Commonweal
  • Bacevich comes with more than just book smarts to question American military power. . . Bacevich is right: there is something un-American about maintaining a huge presence around the world and pursuing endless war without sharp focus or clear goals. Air Force Times
  • Passionate, personal, and polemical. . . a sophisticated critique of the United States' global ambitions. Wilson Quarterly
  • Vivid and critical analysis of the assumptions behind the credo of global leadership and eternal military vigilance that has become increasingly expensive and unsustainable. . . . Bacevich challenges Washington (the president, Congress, and the military industrial complex) as well as citizens to rethink the credo that has directed national security for generations. Booklist (starred review)
  • Valiant. . . Discards long-held 'habits of conformity,' rethinking America's mission abroad. . . Welcome thinking by a former military man who has seen the light. Kirkus Reviews
  • An unsparing, cogent, and important critique of assumptions guiding American military policy. Publishers Weekly
  • Provocative. . . well-articulated. . . Bacevich makes his powerful critique of American foreign and military policy in a clear analytical fashion. . . As an initial project for [a] more informed citizenry, I would suggest reading Andrew Bacevich's Washington Rules. History News Network
  • To say that Washington Rules is a breath of fresh air in the debate over U.S. foreign policy would be like comparing a zephyr to a hurricane. Writing with Force-Five fury, Andrew Bacevich lays bare the dogmas and shibboleths that have animated national security doctrine for the last half century and produced an Orwellian nightmare of permanent war in the name of permanent peace. This passionate, often discomforting book brings rare clarity to a subject of urgent importance for all Americans. David M. Kennedy, author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945
  • Against a national strategy gone astray, Bacevich offers a unique combination of rigorous analysis and emotion-powered protest. May it be widely read, may it disenthrall us from the academic generals, militant academics, and cynical politicians who insist that we must invest blood and treasure in mud-brick Afghan villages, while China invests in advanced technology. Edward N. Luttwak author of The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire
  • Washington Rules' is the author's shorthand for the American conviction that we always represent the good and the pure in international affairs. His powerful book clearly demonstrates how threadbare this idea has become. Chalmers Johnson, author of the Blowback Trilogy and Dismantling the Empire
  • The hard-earned insights of this veteran, analyst, insider, and parent will resonate with people across the political spectrum and offer a serious, riveting, and authentically personal critique of U.S. power. Amy Goodman, host and executive producer, Democracy Now!
  • Bacevich presents compelling and alarming evidence that our nation is locked into a counterproductive global military presence sustained by power projection and interventionism by military force. A must-read for all those concerned with America's future. Lt. General (USA, Ret.) Robert G. Gard, Jr., PhD
  • Washington Rules dissects the convictions that have turned the United States into a warrior nation--a country devoted to military solutions that do little, if anything, to enhance its security or advance the well-being of its citizens or the foreign peoples on whom we inflict our illusory benevolence. A brilliant historian's analysis of what ails America, this book should be read by every national officeholder and and by all who care about America's future safety and prosperity. Robert Dallek, author of The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953
  • Washington Rules exposes well-entrenched assumptions that for decades have underlain ineffective and costly U.S. policies. Bacevich shines a bright light on the meaning of national security and what it requires, while addressing fundamental but long-ignored questions about America's place in the world and the role of military power. Paul R. Pillar author of Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike Cavosie | 1/26/2014

    " In regione caecorum rex est luscus. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 C.B. Brooks | 1/22/2014

    " Superb insider view of America's recent bellicose history and the corporate and military interests that perpetuate it. Especially good insight on the true condition of our feared Russian Cold War enemies "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug Haskin | 1/18/2014

    " An important book, one that should be required reading for all Americans concerned about their country and their future. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob Mobley | 1/11/2014

    " Andrew Bacevich's book is a fascinating and interesting examination of how our Foreign Policy can become rigid and inflexible through bureaucratic imperialism. I recommend this book to every individual who is concerned about the United State's role in the world today. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gianluca Martucci | 1/10/2014

    " Un libro solido, chiaro, spiccio e diretto. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jack | 1/9/2014

    " Had this been the first of Col/Prof Bacevich's books I had read, I probably would have given it five stars. As the third of his that I have read, enough of it is included in the two previous works that I, personally, was not as impressed by this one. But that's me, not him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Reed | 1/2/2014

    " Very well written history of the unfortunate rise of american military business. From self defense, through divorce with the nations citizenship through to it constant global meddling and permanent state of crisis/war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve Ring | 11/2/2013

    " Excellent review of US military history and militarism since WW II. Clearly shows the incredibly powerful actors in keeping our militarism going. Many excellent quotes from Ike to the present day. Excellent analysis of the situation, but not too forthcoming about tactics for getting to a solution. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tori | 10/30/2013

    " Interesting! Audiobook was a little hard to follow so I'd like to read it at some point so I know more about the style, etc. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Austin | 10/25/2013

    " Good, but does not grapple with intervention for good reasons, e.g. genocide. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul | 7/24/2013

    " A disturbing interpretation of the military industrial complex and American foreign policy. Recommmended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betty | 9/12/2012

    " The author's ability to see through the befuddled, often misguided, Washington politics of war and his ability to provide historic clarity makes this book an exceptional read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike Manfrin | 7/22/2012

    " Very thorough and comprehensive book on the development of the permanent or semi-war ethos in Washington. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 6/23/2012

    " Very thought provoking book about American foreign policy by a retired military officer: how the dangers of the military-industrial complex are coming home to roost. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Colin Bratton | 1/14/2012

    " Gave a decent overview of U.S forieng policy, then added Bacevichs opinions for it going forward, but seemed to me to be stating the obvious aat some very key points in the book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shane | 10/15/2011

    " Very interesting! I totally agree with the author's premise, but this book wasn't as captivating to me as the other two that I've read. Still great information as to why the US rushes to war so often. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phil | 6/14/2011

    " Bacevich explains, starting with Truman, at how every American president has brought minimal changes to the country. His demythologizing of JFK alone makes this worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 6/12/2011

    " Very thorough and comprehensive book on the development of the permanent or semi-war ethos in Washington. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janice | 3/31/2011

    " Very informative about the US Washington war machine and the pressure to be in wars for profits. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shane | 3/17/2011

    " Very interesting! I totally agree with the author's premise, but this book wasn't as captivating to me as the other two that I've read. Still great information as to why the US rushes to war so often. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Aaron | 3/11/2011

    " Just a re-hash of U.S. involvement in other nations. Nothing I didn't already know. I thought it was going to be more about the M-I Complex, but was focused more on foreign policy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeffturney | 1/28/2011

    " This book is a quick primer on the history of expansion of the US Military and the presumption of US supremacy worldwide. It lacks detailed analysis, but does show that such an assumption is foolhardy and will lead to severe problems unless addressed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jose | 1/28/2011

    " Listened to audio book. Excellent. Used in policy classes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 1/20/2011

    " Andrew Bacevich's book is a fascinating and interesting examination of how our Foreign Policy can become rigid and inflexible through bureaucratic imperialism. I recommend this book to every individual who is concerned about the United State's role in the world today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wells | 1/19/2011

    " Lucid, persuasive, almost frightening. This is going to be re-read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben | 1/17/2011

    " Very interesting read. Gave me some insights and perspectives that I hadn't previously considered. I have to mull over the author's conclusions for a while. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jack | 1/12/2011

    " Had this been the first of Col/Prof Bacevich's books I had read, I probably would have given it five stars. As the third of his that I have read, enough of it is included in the two previous works that I, personally, was not as impressed by this one. But that's me, not him. "

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About the Author

Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University, served for twenty-three years as an officer in the US Army. He is the author of Washington Rules, The Limits of Power, and The New American Militarism, among other books. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

About the Narrator

Sean Runnette, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, has also directed and produced more than two hundred audiobooks, including several Audie Award winners. He is a member of the American Repertory Theater company and has toured the United States and internationally with ART and Mabou Mines. His television and film appearances include Two If by Sea, Cop Land, Sex and the City, Law & Order, the award-winning film Easter, and numerous commercials.