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Old 04-29-2007   #1
Jesse9252
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Default The Andrew Bacevich collection

I felt this article by Andrew Bacevich from this month's Atlantic Monthly would generate some interest given the debate surrounding LTC Yingling's article.

From the article:
Quote:
In fact, however, empowering groups of soldiers to join in the debate over contentious issues is short-sighted and dangerous. Implicit in the appeal is the suggestion that national-security policies somehow require the consent of those in uniform. Lately, media outlets have reinforced this notion, reporting as newsworthy the results of polls that asked soldiers whether administration plans meet with their approval.

On matters of policy, those who wear the uniform ought to get a vote, but it’s the same one that every other citizen gets—the one exercised on Election Day. To give them more is to sow confusion about the soldier’s proper role, which centers on service and must preclude partisanship. Legitimating soldiers’ lobbies is likely to warp national-security policy and crack open the door to praetorianism.

The Appeal for Redress does not pose an immediate threat to the republic. It’s been signed by only a tiny minority of U.S. soldiers, and the movement could simply peter out, becoming little more than a minor historical curiosity, rather than a harbinger of something larger. Yet in either case, it offers further evidence of advancing constitutional decay.
There's also an interview where Bacevich really fleshes out his thoughts that can be found here.
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Old 04-30-2007   #2
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I am not certain whether the comments made in the article apply to the argument made by Yingling. Whether officers ought to have a special voice in policy making (from the standpoint of them speaking as citizens) is not the same as what they have to say regarding the standards and policies governing generalship in this country.

For example, it is very much the purview of an officer to question the practice of ignoring peer and subordinate review in such matters as promotion and command screening. That is, the policies created to govern the institution are matters for which they do have a particular and special voice.

When those policies, furthermore, influence foreign policy decisionmaking, then there is a need for officers to speak up, because they are the only ones who understand the implications of such things. Your average civilian Schmuckatelli doesn't spend much time paying attention to the big picture -- you can be certain that they don't understand much about such intricacies as what goes into such issues as officer promotion generally, and general selection specifically.

At the end of the day, Yingling's article was about a subject of professional concern, and therefore one about which he is qualified and entitled to comment.

JSR
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Old 05-15-2007   #3
Tom Odom
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Default Andrew Bacevich's Son KIA

Just a note, Andrew Bacevich of Boston University lost his son this past weekend in Balad. Bacevich senior is a graduate of West Point, Vietnam and Gulf War veteran, and critic of the war since 2003.

My sympathies to the Bacevich family.

Tom

More at

Quote:
Son of professor opposed to war is killed in Iraq
By Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff | May 15, 2007

Boston University professor Andrew J. Bacevich has been a persistent, vocal critic of the Iraq war, calling the conflict a catastrophic failure. This week, the retired Army lieutenant colonel received the grim news that his son had been killed on patrol there.

First Lieutenant Andrew J. Bacevich , 27, of Walpole, died Sunday in Balad of wounds he suffered after a bomb explosion, the military said yesterday. The soldier, who graduated from BU in 2003 with a degree in communications, is the 56th service member from Massachusetts to be killed in Iraq.
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Old 05-15-2007   #4
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Prayers for the family. Sad news to hear.
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Old 05-16-2007   #5
John T. Fishel
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Default Sympathy

My personal sympathy to the Bacevich family.

John
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Old 05-16-2007   #6
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Default Sad News..

.. for any parent and for our country. Have said several Hail Marys for the Bacevich family and especially for 1st Lt Andrew J. Bacevich. God speed.
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Old 05-16-2007   #7
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Prayers on the way....
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Old 05-16-2007   #8
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That is indeed very tragic news, as all the other sad news of this huge waste of life in IRAQ.

We have to face it: No matter how much we will achieve in the next 1-3 years in IRAQ, in the end it will not be worth having toppled Saddam AT THIS PRICE! (And I don't refer to the billions of dollars that we buried there... And if we don't achieve significantly more than within the last 4 years, we transformed IRAQ into something worse than before...)

And I can't get the point of the Marcus Flavinius Quote in this respect.
In my opinion it refers to a Imperial Non-democratic Power that suppressed other people and reflects a military that doesn't obey the will of the population. All that doesn't apply to what the US is standing/should stand for.

BRUZ
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Old 05-16-2007   #9
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Perhaps, Bruz, the quote means something special to the user. In any case, this isn't the thread to attack sig lines.
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Old 05-27-2007   #10
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Default I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty.

27 May Washington Post commentary - I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty. By Andrew J. Bacevich.

Quote:
Parents who lose children, whether through accident or illness, inevitably wonder what they could have done to prevent their loss. When my son was killed in Iraq earlier this month at age 27, I found myself pondering my responsibility for his death.

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...
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Old 05-27-2007   #11
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At the risk of sounding harsh, domestic opposition to a war DOES assist the enemy. I don't think that should be the issue at hand, however. More appropriately, the issue should be, does assisting the enemy serve a "greater good" of stopping a war we shouldn't be fighting or cannot win at an acceptable price.

I respected Bacevich a lot more before he threw out the "People shouldn't have the right to oppose my opposition to the war" b.s. that one hears from the Dixie Chicks, Streisand, et al.. In the marketplace of ideas that is a reprehensible tactic that I despise.
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Old 05-27-2007   #12
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Agreed. People have just as much right to oppose his opposition as he does to take the position to begin with. Both forms of expression are protected. His is no better than theirs. This is one thing that many elements in this country (on both sides of the fence) have a great deal of difficulty coming to grips with.
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Old 05-27-2007   #13
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Default Tough call

Since I saw Colonel/Dr. Bacevich's piece early this morning I debated long and hard about whether to post a response. Any critical response is likely to cause hurt to someone who has lost so much. Nevertheless, he has stepped into the public debate and chosen to use his son's tragic death to support his argument and, therefore it is appropriate to respond.

First, it is unconscionable to accuse Colonel Bacevich of being responsible for his son's death. But it is also appropriate, as 120 points out, to note that opposition to the war does undercut the troops and their effort. Again, as 120 states, is there a greater good served by this opposition? In this case, I think not, at least, not in the terms that the debate has taken.

This is not the first US counterinsurgency that Colonel Bacevich has opposed. He was the lead author of the famous (infamous) Four Colonels Report on the US effort to support COIN in El Salvador. In that report, he was wrong both as a military observer and analyst. This was a case where we and our allies got it right yet Bacevich argued that we were doomed to lose. The central argument was that we had sent in our second team, something that turns out to have been totally inaccurate as veterans of the El Sal MILGP built a better track record of promotion and responsible position than any other similar group in the contemporary Army.

Since leaving the Army Dr. Bacevich has been a professor of International Relations at Boston University. There, he has written on the American Empire - a position that is both highly polemical and questionable in empirical terms. Some of that line of reasoning appears in his Washington Post commentary which comes out sounding very much like Marine Major General Smedley Butler in the 1930s. IMO Dr./COL Bacevich's argument has about the same level of validity. One need only ask how the major oil companies have profited by the war in Iraq.

In short, while I certainly sympathize with his loss, I am saddened to see the discussion take the form it has.
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Old 05-27-2007   #14
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Quote:
In short, while I certainly sympathize with his loss, I am saddened to see the discussion take the form it has.
Agreed, John T. I posted earlier when I first heard of the loss, offering appropriate sympathies.

Best

Tom
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Old 05-28-2007   #15
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I'm curious, and I hope this doesnt spin this thread off track, but where is the empirical evidence that opposition to a war aids the enemy?

In our current fight, how does opposition factor into things? Is it possible for a jihadist to become emboldened because an article is posted in the New York Times?
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Old 05-28-2007   #16
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To build on jcustis's question, is the main effect of opposition that it supports the enemy directly or that it erodes support at home?

Certainly Bacevich is entitled to his opinion, any media outlet is entitled to publish it, and anyone is entitled to oppose it. Perhaps his best know published work ,"The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," was pretty polarizing when it was published a couple of years ago, as mentioned in an above posting. It is among a body of newer writings expounding on the virtues of isolationism. It would be nice to redeploy behind our oceans and pull up the drawbridge, but that didn't work between the World Wars and is even less like to work in an ever more globalized international environment.
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Old 05-28-2007   #17
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Default Quite good...

Quote:
Originally Posted by WVO View Post
To build on jcustis's question, is the main effect of opposition that it supports the enemy directly or that it erodes support at home?

Certainly Bacevich is entitled to his opinion, any media outlet is entitled to publish it, and anyone is entitled to oppose it. Perhaps his best know published work ,"The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," was pretty polarizing when it was published a couple of years ago, as mentioned in an above posting. It is among a body of newer writings expounding on the virtues of isolationism. It would be nice to redeploy behind our oceans and pull up the drawbridge, but that didn't work between the World Wars and is even less like to work in an ever more globalized international environment.
Nice first post - to the point and quite true. Thanks.

Isolationism is not an option regardless of one's desires to "pull-back" and defend Fortress America. Unless we remain engaged - and not just military kinetic - we lose - plain and simple.
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Old 05-28-2007   #18
John T. Fishel
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Default Empirical evidence

First, I know of no quantitative studies of the subject. There may be some that address the issue indirectly but I don't specifically know of any.

But empirical evidence does not need to be quantitative. There is plenty of evidence that the French lost Algeria when the French public lost faith in both Algerie Francaise and the French Army. There is also a lot of evidence that opposition to the Vietnam War aided the VC/NVA in their cause by influencing US policy and actual support to the RVN. The survey data do correlate with policy.

Finally, this issue is all part of the war for legitimacy which is fought in the country where the war takes place, the countries that support the "host government," and the "court of world opinion." (Sorry about the shorthand.)
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Old 05-28-2007   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
Agreed. People have just as much right to oppose his opposition as he does to take the position to begin with. Both forms of expression are protected. His is no better than theirs.
Actually I disagree with this position. It may seem minor.

"He" has the right to oppose the war.

"You" have the right to support the war.

If you oppose his opposition you add nothing to the debate and define your argument by his opposition. This fails to provide discourse and into the vacuum of errant ideas only fallacious logic will fall. The debate will quickly turn to an attack of the person rather than a discussion of the ideas.
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Old 05-28-2007   #20
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Great post John T.

Selil, interesting thought, but I would contend that opposing Dr Bacevich's opposition was meant in terms of being "pro" Iraq War, not necessarily the doctor himself. I do find it interesting that his families story is special, and roughly another 3,398 and are not.

This begs a further question that was raised regarding supporting the enemy. While commentary and honest discourse do lend aid to the enemy in a very abstract and tangential manner. However, in the U.S. today, the discourse has dropped to an irrational level below polemical tracts and muckraking articles of our history. This does give "aid" to an enemy. Not direct aid, but definately indirect aid. Since most guerilla warfare theory defines insurgency/guerilla warfare as a protracted conflict utilizing guerilla tactics to defeat the political will of a militarily superior enemy, then I would argue that the fact that beyond normal discourse gets mass media exposure, the guerillas/insurgents are aided.
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