A. Bacevich: A Conservative Against U.S.’s Perpetual War

Andrew J. Bacevich, pronounced Base’-a-vich, was born in 1947 in Normal, Illinois. He’s a conservative but is critical of the last few presidents of both parties for their economic and international policies. He went to West Point, was a career officer in the army, has a PhD in diplomatic history from Princeton, and is a professor of international relations at Boston University.

According to Bacevich, American Exceptionalism once meant we were proud of our values and of the way we conducted our affairs; we were proud of being all we professed to be. It didn’t mean forcing our values down the throats of others.

Bacevich says the U.S. occupation of Iraq is a failure and George W. Bush’s endorsement of preventive wars such as it was immoral, illicit, and imprudent.

Basevich criticizes U.S. senior leadership for:

* having Utopian expectations.

* developing an over-reliance on military power, in contrast to diplomacy, to achieve its foreign policy aims.

* keeping military service limited to volunteers, which has produced in the American people a romantic, highly unrealistic, dangerous notion of what combat and military service are like.

* disregarding the need to consult the American people on their actions.

* ignoring political dimensions, considerations, and differences and engaging in target assassinations instead. And much more.

Jake Whitney in Guernica Magazine wrote: “While [Bacevich’s] criticisms [of U.S. policies] may seem akin to those leveled by ‘radicals’ such as Dennis Kucinich, Bacevich maintains that his views are consistent with classic conservatism. In fact, Bacevich began his writing career in right-leaning publications such as the National Review and the Weekly Standard. But his trenchant critiques of U.S. militarism clashed with the views of mainstream conservatives, and in recent years he has been embraced primarily by those on the left.”

Personality type

One of his former students described Bacevich as “short but fair, gruff but encouraging, serious but oftentimes funny in an off-handed way, confident but slightly self-deprecating… he has always been keen on self-criticism and review.” The way he speaks and presents himself is exacting. He’s highly principled and likely to be a Perfectionist in the Enneagram system. He’s especially fair, serious, and speaks clearly and to the point. My second choice is a tie between the Observer and Questioner personalities.

His books include American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy, The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War, and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. His newest is The Short American Century: A Postmortem.

Changing the subject….. have you heard my two sets of ENNEAGRAM PIANO VARIATIONS on YouTube? I play the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill on one and Chop Sticks on the other, each 9 times. They match the 9 Enneagram types.

In a more serious-music vein, my Beethoven Enneagram CD is a way to experience some of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and learn about his personality via the Enneagram. It’s available only on Amazon.com.

For Famous People’s Enneagram and MBTI types, see my Psychology Today blog and my web site.

Can True Bird-Lovers Eat Turkeys?

A bird refuge in the inland valley of California has a fund-raiser once a year – a barbeque where they grill turkeys.

They invite the townspeople to buy tickets to this event, slaughter the birds, help consume them, clean up their bones, then spend the rest of the year nursing birds with broken wings and other infirmities back to health.

I spent two days trying to stop laughing as I envisioned the bird-lovers gnawing on drum sticks. Were they aware of the irony of what they were doing and were they laughing too? I guess we all do things like this all the time in different ways: “Stop the violence!” as we munch on a cow’s bone not so different from our neighbor’s arm.

My friends Mary Beth and Wayne recently visited the Sand Hill Cranes in the Sacramento Valley in California where lots of birds go to get away from Alaska’s coldest months. Tundra Swans will come later. You can see these huge beautiful creatures in the marshlands taking off and landing in flocks. I first saw them when I was a teenager tagging along with my parents on bird watching trips with the Audubon Society. Experienced bird watchers can impressively identify dozens of birds, including different kinds of hawks, fly-catchers, song birds, and many varieties of shore birds.

When I was a kid, I used to gather up little baby birds fallen out of nests and try to feed them until they could live on their own. They never made it. Living in an apartment house, we wanted a pet, so my parents let us buy parakeets. We nailed a large tree branch to a piece of wood where they spent most of their time. When mine were new, I’d take them in the dark closet to tame them and teach them to land on my finger and rotate around my finger on command. I didn’t think at that time whether this was good or bad for the birds. I just wanted a pet.

When we were first married we bought a parakeet and named him Eldon. Once he flew into Gus’ wet oil painting, which had deadly white lead in it. We cleaned him off with paint thinner and he almost died from that. We were always listening to radio station KPFA in those days and he’d repeat “KPFA-KPFB Berkeley” throughout the day and night. Our cat Miggles was more interesting, to be replaced by four phenomenally more interesting children.

Now Gus feeds the birds in our garden out of two bird feeders: one for small goldfinches and linnets and the other for a bigger variety of birds, including titmice, nuthatches, and chickadees. He feeds them seeds, I feel compelled to tell you. You may be surprised, but I’m not going to try to attribute Enneagram types to the birds. I don’t think liking to bird-watch has much to do with personality type.

You can expect some of these behaviors from specific Enneagram types, however:

1 Perfectionists might save their habitat and protest against using insecticides.

2 Helpers might save baby birds fallen out of the nest.

3 Achievers might build bird houses.

4 Romantics might admire their beauty and use them in poetic symbolism. Some might write poetry with a quill.

5 Observers might learn scientific facts about them. Feeding them is a hobby lots of introverts especially like.

6 Questioners might fear the raptors, admire the most beautiful ones.

7 Adventurers might wish they had their freedom to fly and dream about being a bird themselves.

8 Asserters might protect them.

9 Peace Seekers might appreciate birds for being universal. But all birds aren’t as peaceful as we might like. I gave up on a hummingbird feeder I had outside my window once because they were too territorial about it.

I’ve been eating less and less meat. I’m open to becoming a vegetarian but it doesn’t seem to happen. Happy Thanksgiving!

When is Apologizing “Unthinkable?”

Japanese authorities arrested a Chinese trawler captain September 7 and released him September 24, 2010. But since then the Japanese government has neither apologized nor offered compensation to China as the Chinese have demanded.

Because the arrest took place near islands Japan considers its territory, an apology is “unthinkable,” says the Japanese prime minister. Before the captain’s release, China suspended many ties with Japan, arrested four Japanese citizens suspected of photographing military sites, and threatened to restrict shipping some rare-earth minerals to Japan that are vital to production.

Reading about this incident got me thinking about apologies. I like apologizing and receiving apologies. Ideally, they’re genuine, but sometimes (rarely) they also work when the reason is more to foster good feelings than out of a deep sense of wrongdoing or regret. Whatever the motivation, however, following them with the word “but” ruins everything.

The problem with Japan and China is going on right now, but sometimes apologies are demanded for things that happened before we were born. Armenia would like Turkey to apologize for the genocide (1915-23) by the Ottoman Empire, for example. Ideally, apologies should be as swift as possible or they fester. but late is  better than never. If I had any ancestors who had anything to do with the African slave trade, harming American Indians, interfering with anyone’s civil rights, or involved with U.S. imperialism, I apologize.

On a more every day level:

D. tried to apologize for having been a bully to his younger sister 40 years earlier. She told him she didn’t want to hear about it, in the spirit of “That’s water under the bridge. I love you and everything’s fine between us.”

C. apologized to his younger sister for being too rough as a kid. Unlike G.’s sister, she had been longing for an apology from him.

B. went to his adult children one by one to apologize for his behavior and the months he was hospitalized for bi-polar disorder when they were young.

A. would always apologize two or three times to her children because she was aware that as an adult she was a such powerful figure to them.

When I was around ten and my sister was around 14, sometimes I’d answer the phone and it would be a male classmate calling her. Now and then they’d assume I was my sister because our voices were similar. I would occasionally pretend to be my sister because I couldn’t resist talking to a real live boy for a minute. Though I never canceled a date or said anything untoward, I would delay calling her to the phone a bit. Later in life, she complained that this had been a serious offense. Since I felt innocent of the heinous crime she was accusing me of I resisted apologizing, but recently I tried to put myself in her place. She’s not going to read this, but if I could go backwards I would apologize because I can now see that what I thought was harmless felt threatening to her. What really matters is how she felt about it, not my intentions nor my actions. So even though my sister won’t see this, better an unseen apology than no apology at all.

Peace from the Inside Out, Part I

The Enneagram shows how different our own world-view can be from the world-views of our family members and neighbors. The importance of this for individuals and their relationships has implications for what can be achieved between countries and nationalities. Using this system of describing nine basic types of people usually begins as a tool for individual self-discovery and self-growth. When we find our main type, our relationship to the other eight types inside us begins to change. Little by little we realize that we connect easily with some of these internal types yet we cannot easily access others. The same is true externally—there are some types of people we have trouble understanding. By studying the system, we try to understand all the world-views with the goal of acceptance, which eventually leads to realizing they are universal. The concept of “us and them” weakens. We can’t see people in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor can we see any group, as “other” because we see they have personalities like ours. Only their cultural style is different. To see all humans the way we see ourselves is crucial to peace. Self-acceptance begins inside and spreads outward.

Each of us has the potential to understand the other types, but shadow issues or unfamiliarity can present a challenge. We hope to grow more healthy in our type: the Perfectionist learns that it’s common to be self-critical in order to be perfect, so she works on being good to herself instead of hitting herself over the head. This is the self-acceptance the system encourages. For example, Edith was an Adventurer and avoided the most fearful type, the Questioner, both internally in the form of denying her fear and as represented by Questioners she met. As her attitude toward fear became healthier, she increasingly accepted live Questioners as well as her own fear.

Nine Ways to Make Peace

If a team of nine, one of each type, were sent on a mission of peace, they might contribute these gifts, according to their type:

1 The Perfectionist  – fairness

2 The Helper – harmony

3 The Achiever – can-do

4 The Romantic – compassion

5 The Observer – new angles

6 The Questioner – loyalty to the cause

7 The Adventurer – enthusiasm

8 The Asserter – protectiveness

9 The Peace Seeker – conciliation

Perfectionists are motivated to improve things. If you understand this type, you will realize they are trying to help you when they give advice, more than to criticize you. Most value being a fair, logical, and level-headed force for peace.

Helpers also give advice, as they are motivated to meet others’ needs. In order to accomplish this, they empathize in order to find out about you. Helpers excel in the role of harmonizer.

Achievers are motivated to attain a successful image. Knowing this, you may not be offended if they boast about their car, house, or accomplishments. They are energetic, work hard. get things done, and will follow through. I would call upon an Achiever to come up with a plan for peace that works.

Romantics are motivated to express their individuality. They are compassionate, deep feelers—they can go to someone’s heart space and can be excellent communicators.

Observers are motivated to acquire knowledge and tend to be quiet and sensitive. Some are creative and able to think up new ways of putting things together. An Observer might come up with an original plan for peace.

Questioners are motivated to reduce risk, though some act daring in order to prove they aren’t afraid. Many comedians are of this type because they’re good at scanning for danger, information to help them stay safe, and what will amuse audiences. Questioners will crusade for causes they believe in, including peace.

Adventurers are motivated to explore possibilities. They’re fun loving, optimistic, and like to keep their options open. As some of the most idealistic of the types, they treasure life. Many want to save the earth and end war.

Asserters are motivated to set clear boundaries and are protective of the underdog and those they love. They have a great deal of energy, often prefer to be independent or to be the boss, and want you to be worthy of their respect. They have tough exteriors but soft hearts and can make excellent warriors for peace and for those in need.

Peace Seekers are motivated to maintain inner calm. Sometimes this necessitates mediating when people are in conflict. They’re good at negotiating because they can see many points of view. They connect well with people and can work for peace among nature, humans, and the technology and superstructures we have created that are now harming the earth.

Part II is now on my blog on Psychology Today. Please click here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-career-within-you

When Children Are Pressured to be Who They Are Not

Jung believed the psyche is as physically based as our physical properties, but in his time most people believed children were blank slates to be filled in by their parents. “The Career Within You” supports Jung’s beliefs. It helps career-searchers get underneath to who they really are in order to approach their life’s work from an integrated place. It helps you match up your career and your true self. If this doesn’t occur, look at the cartoon of what might happen! Oh no!

Too many times people are pressured to follow a career the family or a teacher chose for them that was not based on their real desires and gifts. Too often in these difficult financial times people grab a job that has nothing to do with their lives, when taking a little more time to investigate themselves could lead to a much more fulfilling career. Please take that extra time to get to know who you are and what you want.

This cartoon is on page 28 of my book, “The Happy Introvert.”

Intention to ‘Break Enemy’s Will’ Can Produce Unwanted Results

Senator McCain said the purpose of war is to break the enemy’s will. This in opposition to President Obama’s decision to have a short military involvement in Afghanistan. My mind jumped to the ways in which I’ve witnessed less overtly violent will-breaking in other situations, namely in families and in the workplace.

Okay, here’s my point. If you have two armies going at it on an isolated military field that’s one thing. It’s horrible enough, and maybe war should never happen in a world as civilized as we could be in almost 2010. But fighting a war against a few among a civilian population means we can lose their good will from fallout from the drones, errant bombs, etc.  The same thing happens in families where there’s a bully. Even if only one person is singled out to be bullied, the others witnessing the bullying are being abused too. Now we get to the workplace. “Break the enemy’s will” becomes “carry out strict rules” or “run a tight ship.”  These expressions aren’t necessarily abusive but when overdone they can be. When applied to one or more employees unfairly they can have a demoralizing effect on the others. Collateral damage, whether it’s rage, bullets, or second-hand smoke, can occur in many situations.

When my first child went to kindergarten many children hadn’t had preschool and didn’t behave well. The teacher reacted by screaming at the whole class for most of the day, at least that’s how it seemed to me. I felt my son was being abused having to listen to this. He must have wondered what was wrong with him that he should be screamed at this way.

Writing “The Career Within You,” http://www.wagele.com, we interviewed a few people who had bosses who seemed to  regard their employees as enemies. I’ve known professors and teachers with this attitude toward one or more students, too. I’ve also seen a completely broken will. After I gave my highly spirited dog to a relative who lived in another town, unknown to me he beat it into submission. The dog’s personality was unrecognizable the next time I saw him.

In this blog, I’ve talked about physical will-breaking and emotional abuse as it occurs in jobs and at home and how it impinges on those not directly involved in the conflict. This has implications for all nine career types. For example, some types have thicker skin than others and aren’t bothered much by criticism, but a sensitive type who is caught in the middle can be shattered by it. In another example, some types are extremely generous and expansive. The more uptight types in their presence can feel uncomfortable by comparison.

In conclusion, in Senator McCain’s experience in the Viet Nam war,  North Viet Nam itself was considered a vile enemy.  Except for the fact that he was being held there as a prisoner, would he have been happy obliterating the country? One would think he knows that maintaining a sincerely friendly relationship with the Afghan people is to our advantage.