Back in 2005, Andrew Bacevich, a professor at Boston University, a longtime student of American military affairs, and a veteran of both Vietnam and the first Gulf war, came out with a book called The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War. By my lights, it was quite wrongheaded, stridently attacking the Bush administration for imprudently promoting democracy in the Middle East at the point of a gun, which he contended was actually a disguise for advancing some narrower and more traditional geopolitical interests, and was entered into without weighing the costs and the second-order effects.
For one reason or another, COMMENTARY did not review that book, although we did comment on another one of Bacevich’s books, American Empire, the Reality and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy. Not all that long before that but in a different age entirely, in January 2001, Bacevich himself appeared in COMMENTARY, writing a review of a book about the transformation of air power.
Two weeks ago came the news that Bacevich’s son, First Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, died fighting in Iraq, the victim of a bomb. What can I say to a man whose only son dies fighting in a war he opposes, and which I supported and, not seeing any acceptable alternative, continue to support? I am still struggling for an answer.