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Tears and Outrage at the Altar of American Greatness


Tears and Outrage at the Altar of American Greatness

Andrew Bacevich

Apart from being a police officer, firefighter, or soldier engaged in one of this nation’s endless wars, writing a column for a major American newspaper has got to be one of the toughest and most unforgiving jobs there is. The pay may be decent (at least if your gig is with one of the major papers in New York or Washington), but the pressures to perform on cue are undoubtedly relentless.


another great article from mr. bacevich. a voice of reason in an increasingly bizarre world...


One glaring omission in Bacevich's list of US Saints is Saint Ronny Raygun, who, with the help of the mainstream media, elevated alternative facts faster than anybody until Trump came along.

Saint Ron was successfully sold as the greatest champion of small gubmit and fiscal constraint the world had ever seen. Despite sleeping through most of his 8 year stint while his right wing appointees and DLC collaborators enriched the 1% at the expense of the 99%, Saint Ron continued and continues to become more beloved by a wide cross section of Murkins..

Although he left office with a national debt greater than the debt of ALL of his predecessors from the previous 200 years COMBINED, and more gubmit employees per capita than any predecessor, the small gubmit, fiscal constraint champion Ron myth persisted and continues to persist today. Note that the high number of gubmit employees was the result of many employees being cut from "domestic" programs while military employment skyrocketed.

Saint Ron is more popular among Murkins today than he was when he was POTUS. Through their campaigns and while in office both Obama and Clinton praised and compared themselves to Saint Ron more than they referred to any other past POTUS. If that isn't sainthood, what is ?


Bacevich is one of the very few conservatives worth reading. I noticed a bit of new stuff on " the execrable Donald Trump." I see there are new questions concerning his debt of more than $50 million (possibly hundreds of millions) which is listed as a debt to himself, with the numbers not adding up properly to say the least.


Aggressive nationalism is as old as war and empire building, but the American version is particularly toxic and dangerous, not to mention unfathomable at times. This country should trademark some of its madness - bombing people for the sake of humanity, going to war to make people safe, peace through war, wars to end all wars and so much more. A persistent and stubborn stone age mentality with access to modern technology makes for a very predictable mix. In the end, it becomes a question of not whether we are intelligent enough to develop civilization and technology, but whether we are smart enough to survive it. The American answer to this question is, sadly, all too obvious.


Trump is doing more to enfeeble, and lay the groundwork for the dismantling of, US Empire than any president in memory, though of course he is doing it mostly inadvertently. I can't understand why so many who believe that US imperialism is one of the greatest evils in the world are in such a hurry to remove Trump and install Pence, who would almost certainly be a more motivated and able manager of the empire.


Andrew Bacevich for President ?

Would Andrew have the backing or the enmity of the Pentagon ?

Just rhetorical questions, I imagine.

No one in his right mind would attempt to fix this collapsing empire from the inside.

One thing is clear, to me at least. Between Andrew's articles in The Atlantic ("The Tyranny of Defense"), in Foreign Affairs a couple of months ago, and his book "Breach of Trust", I see a true American. Conservative or democrat is irrelevant.

All the best Andrew Bacevich.


Divinely inspired revelational heresy. May it some day become our new orthodoxy. Thank you Professor Bacevich


I don't agree with "collapsing empire," but I do think we are on a downhill slide. I think I should read more Bacevich. I've only read him occasionally, and he has always made total sense to me.


Trump, Pence--it seems like a Sophie's Choice. With Trump we have such a wildcard that it's scary imagining the possible actions and dangers. With Pence we have a clear idea of the horrors.


Please correct me if mistaken, but my understanding is that Mr. Bacevich is a Republican.


I believe he is a conservative. While that usually means republican, in this case, I think that is not true.


David Brooks of the New York Times is a gifted columnist.

Astute mockery. Exquisite!

For years I have called Brooks "The Chipmunk", then I had to explain as to why I did so to whomever I was making the reference. Notice his upper two front incisors. Looks like a chipmunk to me. Since his and Tommy (Mamma Boy) Friedman's virulent and mendacious insistence on the existence of Iraqi WMfD (you figure out what the "f" stands for) as a grounds for the invasion of Saddam's kingdom, I have despised the both of them. They, and so many other NYT so-called commentators/reporters such as Judy Miller (where is Judy today) and their side kick Bush the Boy Wonder, were principals in turning the middle east into a catastrophic hell. Damn them all and the NYT too.

And kudos to CD for so frequently including Bacevich's posts in their blog. Has everyone of you folks out there sent your loose change in to support it?


Hello from Canada !

That article in Foreign Affairs (Sept/Oct 2016) is titled:
"Ending Endless War" (A Pragmatic Military Strategy)
by Andrew Bacevich, p.36

I really liked his recent book "Breach of Trust", which has an historical perspective as well.

As for empire, collapsing or not, I recommend, perhaps strangely, a Canadian author:

"What is America?", by Ronald Wright.


First and foremost, the denigration of Thomas Jefferson always bothers me as he is ever castigated over the slave issue, while George Washington gets a pass. George Washington could afford to free his slaves as his land was worth more than keeping the labor around to work it. George Washington was a Developer, like Donald Trump, he could not help but make money. George Washington the Sprawler in Chief. He was also a whiskey maker and true he walked from power, he never would have created the country that Jefferson and Madison did.

Surely ole Tommy knew what he was talking about when he said slavery is like having a Wolf by the Ears. He understood, I think over time, that slaves were necessary for his work to continue, but realized the future was not in slavery. So give Tommy some slack.

With that said, Mr. Brooks is no Jefferson when he advocated for the Iraq war. He went for an incremental approach and one that was sure to backfire. America should have heeded the analysis of Jefferson and tried to understand the issues that brought on 911. They are Americas stupid International Drug War, which finances terrorism and wealth formation for the wrong people, while making rural farm people hate the US in many third world countries. The second US problem is the unquestioned support of Israel. If the USA, post 911, would have required a 2-state solution in Israel BEFORE going to Iraq, combined with ending the Drug War, we would live in a new world, one without David Brooks.

Continuing to listen to the recycling of Brooks as well as the same stupid ideas in the Conservative Movement will continue to erode America's standing as well as getting the USA deeper in financial debt.


I hear you. Jefferson was no saint, which shouldn't be surprising as men/women simultaneously maintain flaws and virtues--such is the case of the human condition. He was a privileged rich white man, living in very different times, and a slave owner. Underneath it all he had a soul. He penned the Declaration of Independence after all, some of the best political prose ever written, and a document far more important than the Constitution.

To maintain that human rights are natural and not endowed by Kings or governments is still mind-boggling for many Americans, who assume our rights are enumerated in the Constitution. Most people had to fight like hell to be recognized as people under the Constitution in the first place. The Declaration really speaks to the power of people--specifically our consent to be governed--and has become even more relevant since overt fascism has emerged in the US.


There's nothing wrong with the argument here, but it's hard for this article to be the "new" orthodoxy when Driftglass has been writing in this vein for 11 years plus. [And photoshopping, too.]



Too bad that this essay will remain a little under read in a world overwhelmed with "other" terrible news.

America badly needs a National Examination of Conscience with an ensuing confession.

I had a Facebook conversation just the other day with someone who was so blinded to the whys of Muslim refugees and even to the why of the inevitability of violence from Muslim "radicals".

All of that was seen as arising de novo with certainly no American precedent. All automatically ascribed to the evil of Islam. Can't have anything to do that we bombed whole countries into dysfunction and drone strike at will in poor little Middle Eastern and African countries.

Though this does not describe me for the most part, readers who know people from other countries KNOW how other countries see us. Do they see us as willful spoiled children who break others things at will?

Yes, if you read this article, you should share the article. It deserves wide readership.


You said it, Andrew! Amerika as the delusionary inheritor of the patriarchal delusions rooted in Jerusalem, Athens and Rome----but you can also discover the VERY positive Western inheritance (woman-centered, democratic, life-affirming) that's been buried, erased and silenced for the past 3500 years by all three of them: https://jackdempseywriter.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/people-of-the-sea-life-beyond-the-catastrophe-cycle/


Yes, the meaning of 'greatness' is corrupted when applied to our country. It was founded on theft from the native peoples, enriched by the enslavement of kidnapped Africans, and maintained by the propaganda machine that spews out false pride to its well-meaning and highly susceptible inhabitants.