Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Andrew Bacevich's Grief

Here's a link to a heartbreaking piece by Andrew Bacevich, the Boston University professor and Vietnam veteran (who stayed in the Army and made a career of it before moving to academia). Andrew, a profoundly conservative gentleman, knew beforehand -- I talked to him a number of times -- that the war in Iraq was a mistake that would turn out badly. Now his son, 27, who followed the family tradition into the Army, has been killed in Iraq.

Two e-mails accused him, with his antiwar writings, of being responsible for his own son's death, "insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comnfort to the enemy." He notes that this kind of thinking "has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war."

Andrew does not repent: "What exactly is a father's duty when his son is sent into harm's way? Among the many ways to answer that question, mine was this one: As my son was doing his utmost to be a good soldier, I strove to be a good citizen," trying to promote a critical understanding of U.S. foreign policy.

He is understandably angry, but not really at those who still believe in the war. "The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed. The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudition of the policies that landed us in our present predicament. But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight. Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq (and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there), Bush has signaled his complete disregard for what was once quaintly referred to as 'the will of the people.'"

As the father of two grown sons (neither of whom went into the military) I can hardly imagine the grief. I feel compelled to call Andrew tomorrow to offer whatever condolences I can.

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