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Bacevich on Iraq

The exchange between Mathew Shadle and Andrew Bacevich on Iraq in the current Commonweal is an illuminating one. I thought Bacevich especially cogent here:

But then, it is not we who are fighting, and it is not we who are in Iraq.         Rather, 160,000 U.S. troops along with several thousand other government employees are there. Many of the soldiers currently serving in Iraq are back for their second, third, or even fourth combat tours. We, that is, have assigned to a tiny fragment of our overall population the burden of discharging whatever moral responsibility the nation as a whole has accrued in Iraq. The vast majority of Americans have opted out of the war, preferring instead to go about their daily lives as if the war did not exist. In practical terms, we have never cared a fig about Iraq; the exertions of our military sustain the pretense that we really do. The inevitable consequence of continuing the war is to perpetuate this odious arrangement. To insist that the United States acquit its moral obligation to Iraq by sending someone elses son or daughter to fight there is to perpetrate a grave injustice at home under the guise of correcting one far away from home.
And Bacevich could have added: we -- that is, the Bush administration first and foremost but also Congress -- won't even raise taxes to pay for the war, or to  assist in  reducing our dependency on Middle Eastern oil.

About the Author

John T. McGreevy is the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.



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And yet one has to wonder if we may not soon be distracted from these woes by the spectacle of watching another relatively small group of Americans invade or at least bomb Iran.And our mercenaries - Oops, I meant, "private security firms." But let's not forget "Blackwater USA" and the rest. An inspiration to us all! I really appreciate how they incorporate the name of our country into the name of their corporation just to highlight their representation of us to the rest of the world...Paul -

There is a book called "Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein. She argues that the Bush people operate on this doctrine. For example, 9/11 allowed us to invade Iraq to make money for their constituents. Same as Katrina which now has many Republicans making money out of that disaster. Now Iran is the next site. Disqusting!!

Together, the two pieces left me with the queasy sense that, despite areas of disagreement, by and large they're both right - they're addressing complementary aspects of the the moral obligations that we've incurred as a result of the misery, death, dislocation, destruction, dissolution of civil authority, etc. that we've visited upon Iraq through this misbegotten war. I.e. we're obliged to care for the refugees, *and* rebuild infrastructure, *and* provide for basic security, *and* work to disarm the warring factions, *and* make reparation to the Kurds, *and* ...Re: the Bacevich passage highlighted by John McGreevy - presumably, Bacevich is making the argument that, if we're not willing to expend our own children's blood in the conflict, we shouldn't take part in it. Yet, the other side of that coin seems to be, "if the cause is worth fighting for, or if it is an obligation that we can't avoid, then we must be willing to risk our children's blood for the cause."Which is the more honorable course for the country: mercenaries a la Blackwater, or the draft? Or does it depend?

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