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International relations expert to lecture on the end of American exceptionalism

Andrew Bacevich - The Limits of Power
October 03, 2014

American power around the world is facing new challenges, and our government is often paralyzed by gridlock. How did we get here, and how do we fix it?

Andrew Bacevich, a former Army officer, best-selling author and professor of international relations and history at Boston University, will address these questions in his free public lecture, “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.”

The lecture, part of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s Alternative Visions Lecture Series, will take place at 1:30 p.m., Oct. 23, in Old Main’s Carson Ballroom.

Time has called him, “one of the most provocative – as in thought-provoking – national security writers out there today.” Bacevich’s best-selling books have offered critical insights into America’s military industrial complex, decades of foreign policy and the way ordinary citizens relate to the military.

“Professor Bacevich brings a unique combination of experience and knowledge to his analysis of American foreign policy,” says Linell Cady, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and professor of religious studies. “His reflections on American exceptionalism couldn't be more relevant to current debates over the role of the United States in international affairs.”

Bacevich sees the political, military and economic issues that face America as deeply interconnected. He suggests we can address these issues by respecting power and its limits, suppressing claims of American exceptionalism and by being skeptical of easy solutions, especially those involving force.

In this lecture, Bacevich will discuss how various presidential administrations have led America on an increasingly unsustainable path, as well as the long term effects of the United States involvement in recent conflicts around the globe.

“The Iraq War didn’t end when the last U.S. troops departed in 2011. It just continued without American participation.” Says Bacevich. “Now, the U.S. has resumed its role in this ongoing struggle. The question is why we have learned so little from our experience thus far.”

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Bacevich received his doctorate in American diplomatic history from Princeton University. With the U.S. Army, he served during the Vietnam War, held posts in Germany and the Persian Gulf, and retired with the rank of Colonel. Since retiring, Bacevich has taught at both West Point and Johns Hopkins, and he was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He has also held fellowships at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

His books include "Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War" and "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism." He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, among many other news outlets. His latest book, "Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country," is a critique of the gulf between America’s soldiers and the society that sends them off to war.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is an interdisciplinary research unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs.

The lecture is part of the center’s “Alternative Visions” lecture series. The series brings nationally and internationally recognized experts such as Peter Bergen, Elaine Pagels and Reza Aslan to campus to address the sources of conflict and strategies for resolution.

The series is supported by a grant from philanthropist John Whiteman. For more information or to register for the lecture, see the event page.