I disagree with Hightower.

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a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bacevich, Niebuhr, and Dylan

Andrew Bacevich is a Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University and a retired Colonel in the U S Army.  He has written a little book entitled The Limits of Power, The End of American Exceptionalism, Henry Holt, 2008.  In it he argues very convincingly that the reason that we continue making foreign policy blunders is precisely because we do not recognize that we are subject to those limits.  I recommend it strongly.  It is not just another diatribe about George W. Bush.  It is much more.  See it on Amazon.

Bacevich led me to the renowned theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971.   In 1952 Niebuhr wrote a little book entitled The Irony of American History,  University of Chicago Press. Bacevich wrote an introduction to this edition.  It is a more philosophical approach to a broader variation of the same question.  I had some difficulty at the beginning of the book,  but it was worth it.  Among other things, the book anticipates some of the philosophical problems that would arise during the then recently begun cold war.  See it on Amazon.
Since there are an ample number of reviews on Amazon I will not write one and avoid the risk of coming up against the limits of my own power. 

 I don't know if there is a "Cliff Notes" (abreviated) version of these books.  However, it would not be too far wrong to say that the following song (hear it here) serves that purpose:
With God on Our Side
Bob Dylan
Oh my name it ain't nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

The Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fightin'
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

The Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

Through many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
That if God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

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