, Gloucester, MA

July 2, 2013

Insights and Outbursts: Don't forget war's harsh realities

Insights and Outbursts
Eileen Ford

---- — July 4th is not my favorite holiday.

While I honor our military men and women, including a nephew and cousin in the Navy, I prefer Memorial Day tributes, because they remind us that only 1 percent of those in our country fights the battles, while the rest of us enjoy the parades.

Andrew J. Bacevich’s upcoming book, “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country,” about the “yawning gap … between America’s soldiers and the society in whose name they fight” will be available in September.

I’ve admired him ever since he spoke at the Rockport Library in 2008, because he’s a patriot who continues to serve his country by exposing the awful reality behind the flags and bumper stickers.

Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University, Bacevich warned us of “three interlocking crises” in “Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism:”

“The first,” he says, “is economic and cultural, the second political, and the third military. All three share this characteristic: They are of our own making.”

A retired Army colonel who served in Vietnam and father of a son killed in Iraq, he said: “Foreign policy … has increasingly become an expression of domestic dysfunction – an attempt to manage or defer coming to terms with contradictions besetting the American way of life.”

In his 2010 book, “Washington Rules: The Path to Perpetual War,” he wrote about: “America’s ‘sacred trinity,’ the need of a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.”

After Obama’s re-election, Bacevich wrote: “During his first term, Obama abandoned his predecessor’s inclination to invade and occupy countries with expectations of transforming them. Instead, he instituted a policy of killing individuals he decides to kill, wherever they might happen to be found, relying on missile-firing drones or commando raids to do the trick ...”

Why write about the past? Because we keep repeating it.

We’ve spent trillions on wars and nation-building, while our infrastructure continues to crumble because we can’t afford to fix it. As long as Wall Street is doing well, housing difficulties seem over and interest rates remain low, upsetting only those with vanishing savings accounts, those at the top aren’t worried about another “bubble.” They survived the last one – why worry about the next one?

Under the cloak of “national security,” we are less secure, with both major political parties shielded and supported by special interest groups, while the rest of us argue with each other.

Truth is unbiased and cannot be silenced. It’s found in books written by perceptive conservatives and liberals unafraid to speak truth to power, including “Foreign Policy Begins at Home – The Case for Putting America’s House in Order” by Richard Haass and “The Road to War - Presidential Commitments Honored and Betrayed” about the role of the media in the wars since 1941 by Marvin Kalb.

Enjoy the parades and fireworks, but drop into your local library occasionally to discover the facts behind the political spin on TV.

Eileen Ford is a Rockport resident and a regular Times columnist.