Children, Let Us Enter the Land of Make-Believe

It was inevitable. Somehow, they have to explain why a top general and his staff thought the Obama administration was filled with idiots. Surely, it could not be because the Obama administration is filled with idiots.

Therefore, in true university fashion, another reason, more complex and more obtuse,  must be found.

Andrew Bacevich, in the Washington Post:

Long wars are antithetical to democracy. Protracted conflict introduces toxins that inexorably corrode the values of popular government. Not least among those values is a code of military conduct that honors the principle of civilian control while keeping the officer corps free from the taint of politics. Events of the past week — notably the Rolling Stone profile that led to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s dismissal — hint at the toll that nearly a decade of continuous conflict has exacted on the U.S. armed forces. The fate of any one general qualifies as small beer: Wearing four stars does not signify indispensability. But indications that the military’s professional ethic is eroding, evident in the disrespect for senior civilians expressed by McChrystal and his inner circle, should set off alarms.

There is just one problem. The military did not have this attitude toward the Bush administration. So the problem is not disdain for civilian control. Far from it. The military is composed of people who believe in civilian control wholeheartedly. The problem only arises when the civilians are people who are slightly removed from reality; when they are people who think and dream in a fantasy land that few others can see. When strange ideological ignoramuses run the show – and when Joe Biden is considered a valuable contributor – you know we are in trouble.
Bacevich has been on the anti-war side for a long time. His books include: American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy (2002), The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (2005) and The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (2008).
Bacevich does have a point – the growing feeling that soldiers risk their lives overseas for a public that barely knows what is going on, and barely cares. This does lead to a feeling of estrangement and bitterness. It leads to the separation of the soldier from the society he is sworn to protect. But to blow that into the idea that the military is about to become dangerous to the country is a little too much. And to avoid the real problem – that the Obama administration has severe defects – is dangerous as well.

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