Sunday, May 27, 2007

Andrew Bacevich on the loss of his son

Via Digby (The Ballad Of Joe And Jane Hullabaloo blog 05/26/07), I see that Andrew Bacevich has made a public statement relating to the death of his son in the Army in Iraq: I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty. Washington Post 05/27/07.

Like most of Bacevich's published writing, this one in worth reading in its entirety. This passage at the start is a sobering commentary on the state of American politics:
Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.

This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war. By encouraging "the terrorists," opponents of the Iraq conflict increase the risk to U.S. troops. Although the First Amendment protects antiwar critics from being tried for treason, it provides no protection for the hardly less serious charge of failing to support the troops - today's civic equivalent of dereliction of duty. (my emphasis)
I would note that Bacevich does not rest his larger point on these two letters with their genuinely vile accusation. The Republicans, led by Dear Leader Bush himself, have made this kind of sleazy nonsense absolutely normal political talk among Republicans.

Bacevich proceeds to make a strong statement about the corruption of Americans politics (not sparing the Democrats) through the influence of big money:
Money buys access and influence. Money greases the process that will yield us a new president in 2008. When it comes to Iraq, money ensures that the concerns of big business, big oil, bellicose evangelicals and Middle East allies gain a hearing. By comparison, the lives of U.S. soldiers figure as an afterthought.

Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.
Some prowar bigots will undoubtedly accuse Bacevich of trivializing his son's death for political purposes. They can go to Hell.

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