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Andrew Bacevich: A Catholic Expert on Geopolitics in the Age of Jihad

Andrew J. Bacevich

Mark Gordon - published on 09/16/14

You’ve described yourself as a “Catholic conservative.” How does the teaching of the Church on war and peace, international development, the role of international organizations, etc., inform your own reflection on these issues? From your perspective, is there a “Catholic” school of international relations theory?

On these matters, I suppose I am more conservative than Catholic.  To my mind, “conservatism” when it comes to international relations is more or less synonymous with “realism.”  As a realist, I see evil as persistent and I am skeptical of claims that any state — to include the United States — genuinely seeks peace.  When states speak of peace, they mean peace-that-agrees-with-our-interests.  

That said, in analyzing conflicts or potential conflicts, I believe that the Christian just war theory offers an invaluable guide.

Russia is once again becoming a principal focus of American foreign policy. At its heart, is the crisis in Ukraine about the restoration of the Soviet empire, or is it about Russia acting to protect itself from Western encirclement? Or is about something else altogether?

All great powers expect other powers to respect their sphere of interest.  Since the end of the Cold War, the United States and the West more generally have refused to acknowledge a Russian sphere. In that sense, Putin’s resistance to the notion of Ukraine being absorbed into the EU and/or NATO is hardly surprising.  The United States reacted in much the same way when it perceived that the Soviets were prying Cuba or Nicaragua from the American sphere.  

Mark Gordonis a partner at PathTree, a consulting firm focused on organizational resilience and strategy. He also serves as president of both the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diocese of Providence, and a local homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Mark is the author of Forty Days, Forty Graces: Essays By a Grateful Pilgrim. He and his wife Camila have been married for 30 years and they have two adult children.

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IraqIslamIslamist MilitantsPolitics
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