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America's War for the Greater Middle East

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,072 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
Retired army colonel and New York Times bestselling author Andrew J. Bacevich provides a searing reassessment of U.S. military policy in the Middle East over the past four decades.

From the end of World War II until 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in the Greater Middle East. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been kille
ebook, 480 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Random House
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Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, aere-perennius
"The Lord's anger burned against Israel
and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years."

-- Numbers 32: 13


"To be sure, Bush's Second Inaugural qualifies as a thoroughly American text, the president reiterating sentiments voiced by more than a few of his predecessors. Yet the speech also bears the unmistakable imprint of self-indulgent fantasy, of sobriety overtaken by fanaticism. Bush's expectations of ending tyranny by spreading American ideals mirrored Osama Bin Laden's dream of establish
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, history, war
Depressingly familiar history of American military intervention in the Middle East - showcases successive administrations' bowing to political expediency in hopes for a quick victory, ignoring cultural and historical trends, and treating the entire region as a bed of nails and the military as a worn-down hammer.

Most of the story is already known: Operation Eagle Claw, Beirut, Iran-Iraq, Afghanistan, Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia, Enduring Freedom, etc., etc., etc. Much of the newer material con
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a valuable book, as Bacevich is an important writer. The first two parts are a general survey of familiar material (1976 - 2000). But Part III contains an insightful and novel look at the Bush/Obama years, and paint a grim picture of the utter catastrophe we have wrought in our Mideast policy -- the result entirely, in Bacevich's view, of American hybris and delusion -- The last chapter is especially interesting.

My one complaint is that I believe that he underestimates the degree to whic
Joseph Stieb
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a solid book as long as we are clear on its intention. It's not breaking a lot of ground in academic scholarship, other than the broad conception of America's post 1980 foreign policy in the Middle East as a single conflict (I have my doubts here). Rather, the purpose seems to be to challenge Americans to think about how we arrived at the present, with our feet stuck in the mud of this region with a clean break seemingly impossible even as our dependence on the resources of the region le ...more
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book does a profound service by knitting together and making coherent several decades of American policy in the Middle East. First initiated in 1980 under Carter, Bacevich posits (convincingly) that U.S. policies in the region have formed one broad campaign. While initially this campaign started out being about securing oil supplies from the Persian Gulf - something its proponents at the time were frank about - it shortly thereafter became an aimless and vague enterprise. Without any cohere ...more
Matt Papes
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is an immensely readable, indescribably profound, devastating critique of our foreign policy in the Middle East that dates back to the Carter administration. After reading this book, you will not view anything you hear or read about the war and our policies in the Middle East the same way again. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
David M
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Andrew Bacevich may not be a Marxist, or even a leftist really, but then as a comrade of mine one remarked, You don't need to read the German Ideology to see what a fucking stupid idea the Iraq War was.

The second - or third, depending on how you count it - Gulf war was a watershed at least in that it showed definitively that the most powerful military in the history of the world was powerless to do anything but sow chaos and more random violence. No victory could be won, no enemy defeated becau
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that anyone - and that includes every American - who cares about our place in the world and is even minimally curious about how we got so seemingly inextricably involved in the greater Middle East, should read. The new administration's populist "America First" policy will be sorely tested by establishment forces pushing us into an ongoing war that many of us continue to view as irrelevant to our daily lives. Bacevich provides both important historic context linking seemingly dis ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley.

In America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, Andrew Bacevich lays an argument that America has a chronic obsession with the Middle East, which spans all ideological divides, and which ultimately ends in failure with each foray. Bacevich has something of a reputation for being anti-partisan and taking the long view of history, and America's War largely builds upon previous arguments in The Limits of Power, The L
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for those interested in US policy in the Middle East. This book will, intentionally or not, make you angry at U.S. foreign policy, specifically at the Executive branch since Truman (Presidents of both parties being implicated in folly, lies, and/or uninformed idiocy), with an even harsher light shed on the General Officers who have led the efforts there, with some exceptions. Reagan and H.W. Bush actually made the fewest errors. However, in the case of Reagan, there is a lot here to k ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend
I read this book because I realized I knew very little about America's involvement in the Middle East. My memory and knowledge of the Middle East starts with 9/11 and gets increasingly fuzzy from there. I was only 7 when Operation Desert Storm happened and so I have no memory of that. On 9/11 I was a junior in high school. In the ensuing weeks and years I sometimes wondered about our objectives in Afganistan and Iraq, but I assumed our leaders knew what they were doing.

But as our involvement in
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a highly critical overview of US actions in the 'Greater Middle East' since the 70s, which is more of a series of unsuccessful military interventions than a unified strategic campaign. This endless war's provenance lies, according to the author (who is a military professional and academic), originally in the 70s oil crisis (which led to some US security analysts positing an occupation of Saudi Arabia to secure cheap oil), and then the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which led to the prom ...more
Tony Parsons
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The US & other countries involvement in the war against terrorism.

History & PS were my a few of undergrad degrees.

I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one.

A very awesome book cover, great font & writing style. A fabulous very well written Middle East war book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/fin
James Banzer
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here on the pages of a book that's larger than usual are results of a laborious effort to document and condemn actions of the United States in the Middle East. This work chronicles actions during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and finally Barack Obama. These men all played significant roles. Writer Andrew J. Bracevich believes the United States is not enhancing freedom by perpetuating war in the Middle East. His work is entitled Am ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
A critique of US foreign policy in the Middle East as grandiose, contradictory, disjointed, ahistorical, and arrogant, that is itself grandiose, contradictory, disjointed, ahistorical, and arrogant.
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book about the last 4 decades of US interventions in the greater middle east, including the former Yugoslavia, and Somalia, but I wish it was a bit more angry. However, the only good solution seems to be restraint on the part of the US and the West, and how forever unlikely and difficult is that??!! When someone else has a grievance and you hold all the obvious power, it's pretty hard not to say, hey, I'm holding all the cards here, so obviously you've got to fold yours, hit the curb and j ...more
From the Washington Post: The original motivating forces behind U.S. policy have disappeared, yet the American military footprint in the region persists, seemingly as an end in itself. “Like the war on drugs or the war on poverty, the War for the Greater Middle East has become a permanent fixture in American life and is accepted as such,” he writes. Despite President Obama’s advertised view that his administration has taken a substantially different approach to the region, the ineffective Afghan ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this searing indictment of US military involvement in the Middle East, Bacevich accuses every administration since Jimmy Carter of completely misunderstanding the region and blindly resorting to military intervention for lack of better ideas. In his account, America has failed to consider the ripple effects of our endeavors and lacks an actual strategy. What started as a policy of guarding our access to oil has morphed into a nebulous goal of "reshaping" the region. It is a disturbing but imp ...more
Rob Squires
A healthy dose of the painful truth about US policy in the Greater Middle East since the late 1970s. If you're interested in the future of that ominous part of the world, how to deal with sticky issues like the Syrian civil war and ISIS, then you need to understand how the US—and more specifically, the US military—has operated in the region in the past. This is a straightforward and sometimes harsh analysis of that history that doesn't pull any punches. The author is a graduate of the US Militar ...more
Ian Divertie
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've loved all his books. Having been in the ME for ten years I have gobbled every one of them up since I got back. I'm not sure Americans really have a coherent view of what's going on over there or even here in our own country for that matter. If you feel all at sea about our recent wars this book will probably help. The last chapter, particularly the last page warns us all, -- I hope.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
A history and critique of U.S. military interventions in Africa, the Levant, the Persian Gulf, and the Balkans since 1980. Bacevich makes a compelling case that these actions all form a single, misguided war that is long-divorced from its initial aims. Though the U.S. was involved in the Greater Middle East prior to 1980, Bacevich focuses on that date because of Jimmy Carter's declaration (made partly in response to the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet War in Afghanistan, partly as a way to see ...more
Terrence Daugherty
This book should be in everyone's library who might have an interest in the American military's interventionism... um... I mean — "exploits" throughout the Middle East, for the last few decades.

Andrew Bacevich, an esteemed conservative historian, chronicles American government meddling from the installation of the Shah in Iran to the recent farcical "war" against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/Islamic State — and the events in between leading up to its manifestation.

Bacevich exposes the blow-back created by
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clearly written and cogently argued, Bacevich's book is a no-holds-barred, unsparing review of America's engagement in the Middle East from the Carter administration through the Obama administration.
Sarah Evanko
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, for-college, i-own
Interesting perspective. It is a very dense read that is full of facts and opinion. If you are looking a purely factual book without bias this is not it. THOUGH Bacevich's insight and viewpoints are worth listening to and examining. Though it does have bias, if you are engaging and being critical you'll learn a lot about the US's involvement in the Greater Middle East.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written survey of the US involvement in the Middle East from the late 1970s up to the modern day. Bacevich is very critical of U.S. decision-making throughout the entire process, and expresses his criticism with an eloquence which is refreshing in its clarity, and very frustrating in its implications.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Although the War for the Greater Middle East continued, U.S. military policy in the Islamic world from this point forward possessed no more co
Dick Reynolds
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Bacevich has written a book that is brilliant, fascinating, and educational, but ultimately depressing. The first three are attributable to his excellent writing talents; I’ll get to the fourth item shortly.
Bacevich begins with President Jimmy Carter’s decision on July 3, 1979, to provide a small amount of money to Afghan insurgents fighting Soviet troops. In his January 1980 State of the Union address, he acknowledged what subsequently became known at the Carter Doctrine. Because of tensi
Marty Twelves
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great overview of America's military involvement in the Middle East over the last 40 years. I wish there'd been more room to go into detail about each incident and the political circumstances that drove them, but each of them could easily take their own book to explain.
Sunny Singh
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great informative book! Every American interested in our foreign policy (especially toward the Middle East) should read this book because it will educate them over how our military became involved in the Middle East, why we became involved, details of the major military operations, and the subsequent consequences. Author Andrew Bacevich also offers insightful commentary about our military history post Cold War as well as the commentary on American public's lack of interest in foreign affairs. ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bacevich offers a strong critique of American policy towards the Middle East, showing the arc of American military involvement from the Carter Administration to the present as an overarching war to protect American interests in the region. While every president in the last 40 years is assigned their piece of blame, Bacevich is especially critical of the generals tasked to conduct the war in its various phases. He takes the military's leadership to task for not understanding their enemy, not unde ...more
4.75 / 5.0

Detailed Analysis of America's Military Involvement in the Middle East. He posits we started Middle East War in the 70's when we started covert operations against Russia in Afghanistan. Then proceeds to elaborate clearly why and how we attempted to prosecute this war and why it is still a muddled mess and why it is likely to continue to be so for a long time. Clear well written tight argument makes sad sense.
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Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He is the author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism and The New American Militarism. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York ...more
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“The line in the sand that Carter drew along Iran’s Zagros Mountains now stretches from Central Asia through the Middle East and across the width of Africa. That the ongoing enterprise may someday end—that U.S. troops will finally depart—appears so unlikely as to make the prospect unworthy of discussion. Like the war on drugs or the war on poverty, the War for the Greater Middle East has become a permanent fixture in American life and is accepted as such.” 1 likes
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