Breach Of Trust : How Americans Failed Their Soldiers And Their Country by Andrew J Bacevich

Breach Of Trust : How Americans Failed Their Soldiers And Their Country by Andrew J Bacevich

A searing criticism of the divide between America’s soldiers and the society that sends them off to war, as explained by the best-selling author of “The Limits of Power” and “Washington Rules.”

Over the past decade, the United States has been engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, as these conflicts have become normalized, a deep chasm has formed between the soldiers and veterans and the society that claims to support them. For the average citizen, armed conflict has become a distant concept, while military service is seen as something reserved for others.

In his book, “Breach of Trust,” renowned author Andrew J. Bacevich examines the growing divide between Americans and their military, tracing its origins back to the Vietnam era. He explores the damaging consequences of this separation, including a nation with an insatiable appetite for costly wars that its standing army cannot win. As a result, essential values of democracy, such as the principle that the responsibility for defending the country should rest with its citizens, have been discarded.

Bacevich draws from a wide range of sources, including the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the marine-turned-anti-warrior Smedley Butler, to call upon Americans to reclaim their responsibility for national defense. Instead of relegating this duty to others, it should become the business of “we the people.” Bacevich warns that failing to shoulder this responsibility will lead to never-ending wars carried out by a professional “foreign legion” and mercenary contractors – a path that will not only bankrupt the nation financially but also morally.

Reimagining the Military: The Case for Reviving the Citizen Soldier Tradition

In this article, we will discuss why the most powerful military in the world is not successful in winning wars. Our guest, military historian and Vietnam veteran Andrew Bacevich, argues that the shift from a citizen soldier model to a professional army is the reason behind this failure. He explains that the citizen soldier tradition, which was prevalent during the American Revolution and World War II, collapsed during the Vietnam War. The introduction of the all-volunteer force by Richard Nixon further solidified this change. While a professional army is well-trained and disciplined, it lacks the ability to effectively end wars. Since the 9/11 attacks, the US military has been involved in protracted wars with unsatisfactory outcomes, leading to high costs in terms of both money and lives. Bacevich suggests that the US needs to abandon the professional military model and return to the citizen soldier tradition.

The Impact of Privatization

Bacevich also addresses the role of private military contractors in modern warfare. He argues that the US has an insufficient number of soldiers to carry out the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result, the government relied heavily on private contractors, leading to a profit-driven approach to warfare. This has created opportunities for corruption and has fundamentally altered the nature of war.

Personal Tragedy and Changing Perspectives

The conversation takes a personal turn as Bacevich discusses the loss of his son in Iraq. While this tragedy undoubtedly affected him, Bacevich emphasizes that his skepticism towards the military system existed prior to his son’s death. He believes that a national service program could bridge the gap between the military and society, addressing the shortcomings of the current system while also fostering a sense of citizenship and communal responsibility.

The Call for National Service

Bacevich advocates for a national service program, which would require all 18-year-olds to serve their country or community in some capacity. This could include military service, but it would encompass a range of other options as well, such as teaching, environmental protection, and community development. Bacevich believes this program would help close the divide between the military and society and promote a more holistic understanding of citizenship.

Bacevich’s insights highlight the need to reconsider the current military model and the impact of privatization on warfare. He calls for a return to the citizen soldier tradition, emphasizing the importance of national service in fostering a sense of responsibility and strengthening society as a whole.

Stay tuned for more insightful discussions on democracy and military matters on democracynow.org.

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