Breach of Trust

Breach of Trust

How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

Book - 2013
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Bacevich takes stock of the separation between Americans and their military, tracing its origins to the Vietnam era and exploring its pernicious implications: a nation with an abiding appetite for war waged at enormous expense by a standing army demonstrably unable to achieve victory. Rather than something for "other people" to do, Bacevich argues that national defense should become the business of "we the people."
Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2013
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780805082968
0805082964
Characteristics: xii, 238 pages ; 22 cm

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whoiamiswhoiam
Jul 04, 2014

Bacevich's main task here is promulgating the distinction between the “citizen-soldier,” and the professional soldier of the all-volunteer army. He explains how the professional soldier reduces the society-wide risks of armed conflict which costs are hid beneath the cloak of what he calls the 1% of Americans who form the warrior class. Contrasted to the time before Nixon created the all-volunteer armed forces for just this reason after the Vietnam fiasco, the abuse of these wars are suffered only by this 1%, which gives the political establishment more latitude to prosecute its wars. These wars are not chosen by the democratic citizenry but rather for and by the 1% on the other end of the political spectrum. American hubris amounts to a bloated, stultified pentagon bureaucracy, which has led to the US having more than 1,000 military bases around the world. As he notes, the pentagon has outgrown the Pentagon. Bacevich recommends a reinstatement of the draft so that all could serve but only some would; so that when they turned 18, it would be just as likely that Malia or Sasha Obama would serve as any other 18 year old. This, says Bacevich, would give the political establishment pause before rushing into wars he documents as being more reckless than Vietnam. Failing this he recommend a universal two-year stint of public service. Bacevish's realism is buoyed by a prose cogent, fluid and expansive, and his thoroughly reasoned thesis now rich with cultural sophistication, now with military precision. His strong, reasoned and wise dissent speaks with the officialdom only a West Point graduate who served on the ground in Vietnam could. When one learns that Bacevich lost a son in Iraq in 2004 – a subject he mentions a single abrupt time here, and refused to discuss at all on a recent appearance on Bill Moyers & Co. - the urgency and humanity of his argument come to the fore. One can sense great sympathy for soldiers and all of us at the same time, because he is quite aware of the nature of the stakes. Bacevich defines and beseeches America to stop its imperial adventures, and see itself as one power among many. I don't think Bacevich is suggesting Americans be more active in warfare and imperial adventures as much as he is saying that the soldiery should be used sparingly, judiciously; and his prose is replete with the integrity of what that means.

s
StarGladiator
Apr 09, 2014

When Douglas MacArthur [either a colonel or general in the army] against the orders of the president, invaded the Bonus Marchers Camp [full of WWI vets] and slaughtered over 100 men, women and children, did he get away with it? You bet! Does this book make any sound points? Yes and no, but mostly bulltwacky: Americans have never (regardless it be WWII, Vietnam or today) really honored its veterans, and only seemingly so when it was the best for them financially (see Edward Humes' book, Over Here). There were indeed countervailing forces when the draft existed, but even then the Empire got away with way too much! If the electorate truly honored veterans (especially combat vets) then John Boehner, speak of the house, who washed out of Navy bootcamp for malingering -- claiming a bad back -- would not be in his position today. Nor would John McCain, who bombed his own aircraft carrier, lost a bunch of jets, and lasted less than 24 hours in combat prior to being shot down and captured. Certainly George W. Bush, with his completely fabricated ANG record, would never have been elected either governor and then president! Nixon's revenge: the all-volunteer military, and it was Prescott Bush who recruited Nixon into politics.

s
seaxfamx
Apr 08, 2014

A cogent and compelling analysis of how Americans have become bystanders while the various powers that be have taken the country to war many times since Vietnam. Can't remember can you? I had trouble, too, realizing how many times our young people have been sent into harms way. Bacevich makes a strong case for bringing back to the draft as a way of giving more of us "skin in the game" of war and for making it harder to go to war.

j
jswolfmcguire
Sep 10, 2013

Absolutely right, as all of Bacevich's books are. Why don't our elected officials LISTEN to this guy?????

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IulianHectorNarada
Oct 30, 2014

pages 42-43: The crux of the problem lay with two symmetrical one-percents: the 1 percent whose members get sent to fight seemingly endless wars and that other 1 percent whose members demonstrate such a knack for enriching themselves in “wartime.” Needless to say, the two one-percents neither intersect nor overlap. Few of the very rich send their sons or daughters to fight. Few of those leaving the military’s ranks find their way into the ranks of the plutocracy . . . .

. . . . a people who permit war to be waged in their name while offloading onto a tiny minority responsibility for its actual conduct have no cause to complain about an equally small minority milking the system for all it’s worth. Crudely put, if the very rich are engaged in ruthlessly exploiting the 99 percent who are not, their actions are analogous to that of American society as a whole in its treatment of soldiers: the 99 percent who do not serve in uniform just as ruthlessly exploit the 1 percent who do.

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