May 27, 2007

I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty. -

This is a remarkable, very sad, and essential to read column by Andrew Bacevich, one of the most interesting critics of the war in Iraq. I have blogged on his books before, I consider them essential reading for understanding the American approach to empire. See, for example, his The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War. Bacevich is a political scientist who has traveled the road from conservative to anti-empire critic (essentially landing at the William Appleman Williams critical stance that I was trained in, and indeed Bacevich just contributed a forward to the reissue of Williams' Empire as a Way of Life). he had served in Vietnam. His son was just killed recently in Iraq. Bacevich had been a staunch critic of the war before that, and now his position takes on a profound sadness. But is no less harsh or direct or persuasive:

"To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen? We know the answer: to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove -- namely, wealthy individuals and institutions.

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.

Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels. It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about isolationism, appeasement and the nation's call to "global leadership." It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing. It ignores completely the question of who actually pays. It negates democracy, rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent.

This is not some great conspiracy. It's the way our system works.

I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty. -

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