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Historian says there is 'no end in sight' for Israel-Gaza war

Palestinians look for survivors following Israeli airstrike in Nusseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip. (Doaa AlBaz/AP)
Palestinians look for survivors following Israeli airstrike in Nusseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip. (Doaa AlBaz/AP)

Retired army colonel and historian Andrew Bacevich served in Vietnam, and is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. He is the chair and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

He’s someone who would never call himself a liberal, but was an early and lonely voice against U.S. invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And that’s not just because his son, Andrew, died in Iraq at the age of 27, but
because it wasn’t a sound strategy.

Bacevich wrote a piece in Commonweal Magazine titled “The Israel-Gaza war
will fail,” and he questions U.S. policy in the Middle East, comparing it to “a
carcass in an advanced stage of decay.”

Interview highlights with Andrew Bacevich

On why war can’t solve every problem

“It just seems to me that governments — I don’t mean just our government, not just the Israeli government — but governments seem to have a difficult time grasping how little war can accomplish.

“I’m not a pacifist. I understand force has a place in international politics, but the notion that you can go to war and fix your problems is exceedingly dangerous. That is what we did after 911 to very little benefit and great cost. And I think that’s what the Israelis are doing right now as well.

“But the Israeli government has not identified a plausible end game, a political purpose that Israel intends to achieve if the declared purpose is to eliminate Hamas, that just ain’t gonna happen.”

On how the Israel-Gaza War can affect U.S. domestic politics

“The one thing I would say that keeps me awake at night is should the United States allow itself to be drawn into this war as a combatant — and let’s remind ourselves that U.S forces in the region in Syria, in Iraq, in the Mediterranean have come under fire lately.

“Should that lead to direct U.S. military combat involvement in the ongoing Gaza-Iraq war, then my guess is Trump will win the election because he will capitalize on that as further evidence, from his point of view, of Biden’s incompetence.

“It would be the withdrawal from Afghanistan all over again, and he will whip up his followers using the war as an argument for why he deserves a second term. The argument from my point of view doesn’t even pass the laugh test, but I think that in some sense, that describes the essence of the precarious situation we are [in] with regard to our domestic politics.”


Adeline Sire produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Sire also adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.