Making Memorial Day Matter: Remembering Andrew Bacevich Jr.


bacevichjr2.jpgThe United States is engaged in too many wars at the same time and is convincing too many other nation states that it cannot achieve the ends it sets out for itself.
The military limits America has exposed in its Iraq and Afghanistan engagements; the moral mistakes the US military and Bush administration made in Bagram, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib; and the audacity of American structural corruption that resulted in the export of toxic financial products to the rest of the world have generated doubt in the minds of allies that America can realistically support them — and have animated the ambitions of foes.
North Korea is testing America — just like Joe Biden said would happen.
One of the great thinkers about the implosion of American power in the world is Boston University defense thinker Andrew Bacevich whose book The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism is a should read.
His son, Andrew Bacevich Jr. (pictured to the left) was killed in Iraq, one of our current wars that I believe has undermined America’s place in the world and its global leverage — not increased it.
But I want to remember Bacevich and the many who have sacrificed for the country. I have friends in the military deployed in the Middle East now — and I wish they were back home. These soldiers do deserve our respect — but like Bacevich Jr.’s father, I believe that our current conflicts are doing the nation great harm.
Memorial Day does not mean embracing wars and conflicts that set back the interests of the nation in some shallow gesture of patriotism — but Memorial Day should mean paying respect to those who have sacrificed greatly for the nation, even if that sacrifice should not have been demanded by our leaders.
— Steve Clemons


8 comments on “Making Memorial Day Matter: Remembering Andrew Bacevich Jr.

  1. David says:

    “Memorial Day does not mean embracing wars and conflicts that set back the interests of the nation in some shallow gesture of patriotism — but Memorial Day should mean paying respect to those who have sacrificed greatly for the nation, even if that sacrifice should not have been demanded by our leaders.” Perfectly put, Steve, and I second your recommendation of Andrew Bacevich’s book, and pretty much anything he writes.
    I also want to thank you, POA, for offering from you personal experience a very, very important point. People who refuse, out of conscience, to go do what they should not be sent to go and do should be honored equally on Memorial Day, a day which needs to be as large of spirit as is humanly possible. It was created, of course, to honor the Union dead in that most insane of family bloodlettings, our Civil War. The South had its own Memorial Day in February, which was still noted when I was in elementary school in the 50s. I should add that one of my maternal great-grandfathers – both Kentuckians – fought on the Union side and the other on the Confederate side. Neither, thankfully, was killed. I only wish the same could be said for Andrew Bacevich’s son.
    We need to reflect, and reflect deeply, on everything our wars and the sacrifices – and senseless waste – of our men and women mean. And we need to reflect equally deeply on the consequences of our wars for the people who live where they are waged.


  2. KNG says:

    Here an another point of view about War, Life, Power and American Destiny:
    Be careful about what you write, my dear writing friend: Ralph Peters is very appreciated by Dick Ckeney.


  3. GeorgeG says:

    I have both friends and relatives in the military. My thoughts ran deep for them and our country yesterday. Some have given the ultimate sacrifice, others fought bravely and lived (not) to talk about it. I flew my flag proudly for them yesterday.
    Who I didn’t waste thoughts on were GW, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith — and for past dirty deeds, throw in Kissinger. These monsters are responsible for the deaths of millions, including tens of thousands of American soldiers. These monsters don’t need to be remembered in any way, shape, form. They need to be waterboarded and charged with treason.
    Given the chance, these monsters would do it all again in the name of (their money) god.


  4. kotzabasis says:

    America’s power continues to be in a state of ‘explosion,’ if used wisely and resolutely against its enemies, and not in a state of “implosion.”
    The North Korean test is the “meme” that will destroy President Obama’s new foreign policy based on diplomacy with America’s irreconcilable enemies such as Iran. The doors of diplomacy that Obama is opening to the Mullahcratic regime and its sundry of proxies will close with a bang in the face of the rookie president in foreign affairs.


  5. Susan says:

    North Korea is not doing anything new. They have been at this awhile.
    The purpose of our military is to kill our enemies and destroy their ability to hurt us.
    People in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even North Korea are not our enemies.
    To use our troops to fight and kill and destroy these people is not only immoral, it spits in the face of our military and our veterans. It is beyond stupid, it is beyond disgusting. And this has been true for every ‘conflict’ since WW2. All the military folks who died in combat since then have died for our freedom all right — our freedom to be the world’s biggest hypocrites.


  6. Robert D. Farwell says:

    Thank you for this commentary. I admit to very mixed emotions about our current deployments. My eldest son is a decorated veteran of Afghanistan, wounded in combat, and I vividly recall the phone call apprising us of his status, and the subsequent visits to his hospital ward. I am extremely proud of my son and his compatriots, but I skeptical of the circumstances and goals of the mission that led to his wounding and the wounding and death of several of his comrades.


  7. questions says:

    Thanks, Steve, for this post. I’m really haunted by this one. I’m only a few degrees of separation removed, and it hits home.


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, whenever I see these kinds of patriotic calls to respect and appreciate the troops, I think of a high school buddy of mine who shared a remarkably low lottery number with me during the draft during the Viet Nam conflict. His name was Don McDougal, and he fought the draft valiantly, registering as a contientious objector, and after a prolonged battle, eventually winning out to his convictions, and being consigned to the Ecology Corps. Stationed near Yosemite, he soon became a key member of the Calaveras County Mountain Rescue Team. He recieved mountain climbing training, paramedic training, skydiving training, the governor of Tennessee donated a team of blood hounds and dog handling training, and his team had a DC-10 at their disposal to fly all over the United States doing search and rescues and body recoveries. Unlike the scum such as Dick Cheney, Don refused to serve in Nam due to his convictions, yet felt the responsibility to serve in a manner that befit his conscience and sense of patriotism.
    There are many such “heroes” in our society today. Those that choose to actively rebel against participating in the crimes of our leaders, not out of cowardice, but out of a deep sense of conviction and patriotism. That requires immense courage. They too deserve our respect, our gratitude, and our support.


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