An absolutely searing indictment of the US citizenry’s relationship to the US Army. Bacevich accuses the US population of what could probably be described as malign neglect of its professional soldier class while papering over any lingering guilt with a shallow form of patriotism. He traces the neglect to the post-Vietnam decision to eliminate the draft and create an all-volunteer professional force. This move disconnected US society at large from its armed forces and allowed each to drift apart from the other. Once that was accomplished, the malignity of endless overseas conflict with a force too small to sustain it could now begin, because policy-makers were free to start wars without the need to convince the public at large that the conflicts were worth dying for. Further evils, like the use of modern mercenaries, followed from there. Highly recommended.
2 replies on “Book: Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country”
Haven’t read the book, but my father regularly argues Bacevich’s position. I think Bacevich gets it exactly backwards: if the citizenry isn’t willing to deeply own a war, then the political-military leadership should not fight it. Hero or victim: pick one.*
Well I think you should read the book, because Bacevich’s position seems a lot closer to yours than you seem to think, my little paragraph certainly doesn’t capture its full subtleties. I think he would agree with what you said, but add that it doesn’t let the citizenry off the hook because they keep on electing that political leadership anyway. To put it another way, if the citizenry didn’t want these wars as badly as they don’t want the draft, they would never be fought because starting them would be political suicide.