Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Fallout from Iraq disaster worse than Vietnam

"Andrew J. Bacevich is a West Point graduate, Army officer for 23 years, Vietnam veteran, self-described "Catholic conservative" and today a professor at Boston University. Until the election of 2000 he wrote for such neo-conservative journals as Commentary and the Weekly Standard. Today, he observes in "The New American Militarism," "My disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute."

"As a result of defeat in Vietnam, he contends, the American military profession was thoroughly discredited and even dishonored by such events as the My Lai massacre and the high command's attempts to cover it up. In the 15 years following Vietnam, the officer corps undertook to reform our military...
The debut of the new, post-Vietnam military was the first Iraq war of 1991. It "served as a dramatic announcement that efforts to reconstitute American power had succeeded – indeed had surpassed the expectations of the officer corps itself."

"It had taken the officer corps fifteen years, from 1975 to 1990, to recover from Vietnam," Bacevich writes. "It took another fifteen years, from 1990 to 2005, to fritter away most of what the reform project had wrought... It was left to the administration of George W. Bush to complete the demolition."

Bacevich concludes that "The war that the officer corps prepared itself to fight was the war in which the prospects of actually having to fight were most remote."

The use of our armed forces to intervene in civil wars, ethnic cleansings and nation-building operations (for example, in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq) exposed how inappropriate an instrument they actually were for the foreign policy problems the United States faces. Worse, "the Abu Ghraib [torture of captives] debacle showed American soldiers not as liberators but as tormentors, not as professionals but as sadists getting cheap thrills."
"In light of the defeat in Vietnam and its effects, one shudders to think what the fallout will be from the Iraq disaster.


Anonymous thedave said...

What disaster? It's been a HUGE success.

9:24 pm  

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