San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Dr. Andrew Bacevich Lecture
Thursday, March 27, 2014 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Andrew Bacevich is Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University; he previously taught at Johns Hopkins University and at West Point, where he graduated in 1969. His new book, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, is a blistering critique of the gulf between America’s soldiers and the society that sends them off to war.
Breach Of Trust
The United States has been “at war” for more than a decade. Yet as war has become normalized, a yawning gap has opened between America’s soldiers and the society in whose name they fight. For ordinary citizens, as former secretary of defense Robert Gates has acknowledged, armed conflict has become an “abstraction” and military service “something for other people to do.”
Drawing from Breach of Trust, bestselling author Andrew 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. Among the collateral casualties are values once considered central to democratic practice, including the principle that responsibility for defending the country should rest with its citizens.
Citing figures as diverse as the martyr-theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the marine-turned-anti-warrior Smedley Butler, Bacevich summons Americans to restore that principle. Rather than something for “other people” to do, national defense should become the business of “we the people.” Should Americans refuse to shoulder this responsibility, Bacevich warns, the prospect of endless war, waged by a “foreign legion” of professionals and contractor-mercenaries, beckons. So too does bankruptcy - moral as well as fiscal.