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War Out of Sight, Sacrifice Out of Mind


War Out of Sight, Sacrifice Out of Mind

Andrew Bacevich

In the dispiriting of summer of 1979, a beleaguered President Jimmy Carter tried to sell his fellow citizens on a radical proposition: Having strayed from the path of righteousness, the nation was in dire need of moral and cultural repair.

Carter’s pitch had a specific context: An “oil shock” — this one a product of the Iranian Revolution — had once more reminded Americans that their prevailing definition of the good life depended on the indulgence of others. The United States was running out of oil and was anxiously counting on others to provide it.


Manifest destiny, the defining canon of Americanism, must be removed from the American mind. The neocons and dominionists must be held in check by world views that do not require hegemony bathed in red, white, and blue. "We came, we saw, he died" cannot be our future if we aspire to a more peaceful world. It is [past] time for humility, America.


Good to see Bacevich reaching in new directions with his thinking, and of course good to see him make a general recommendation to policy makers to stop using war as a tool.

But overall, Bacevich appears completely unable to grasp that "the culture" he assesses, has been in large part engineered. It's not a pure product, and i strongly believe we do have the capacity to see through and fight back against the engineering and the engineers, but it is a huge error to not see the intentional cultural and social development that is undertaken by powerful interests, with some success.

And the powerful interests that invest so much in engineering a culture of individualism, consumerism and compliance, also have no interest in dropping war as a tool.

It would be interesting if Bacevich would undertake an assessment of powerful interests that push for war, and look at the other activities that these "interested parties" have engaged in over decades, to influence and limit the "acceptable range" of consciousness and culture.


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As a lifelong advocate of peace, I am outraged to be trivialized with statements such as " The “peace movement, to the extent that it can be said to exist, is anemic and almost entirely devoid of clout." To be sure, the establishment has rigged the system so that our voices are little heard, but we do exist and we will never stop advocating for peace. Shame on Bacevich for painting with such a broad brush. Moreover, his assertion that most Americans are "oaky" with endless war is just not true. According to polls, a significant number of Americans are NOT okay with endless war. As with so many other government policies, the will of the people has little to do with government policy. Place the blame for endless war where it belongs - with the criminals in Washington who have elevated themselves above the law and any accountability, not on voters who are only given a choice to vote for war candidate R or war candidate D.


Whose war is this? Promoting American ideals of freedom whether at the point of a gun or by seduction were never the intended purpose of the Neocon Wars in the Middle East! Sorry Professor, they just never were. In truth the question remains to this day whether these were ever wars that were supposed to be won? Or were they wars that were intended to extend and broaden over time? A war to create an endless war and semi - permanent occupation? Multiple occupations!

The good professor suggests accusingly that Americans did not and do not feel the sacrifice experienced in other wars. Yet he relates that the privileged do not march towards war but instead head for Wall St.! Somehow giving the wealthy two trillion in tax cuts after 9/11 seems unworthy of notice when he says Americans blithely borrow and then shop as they were told.

What the professor does not want to face is that they have all been lies. That those who have suffered sacrifice will not be able to point the finger to a noble enterprise where there really wasn't one. I am sorry to say that but it is true. Americans responded to the call to defend their country and what did they find? This wasn't war it was a business opportunity for the few ... A different few though than the brave and valiant! There was a gold rush of billions thrown towards favored business partners to the administration. War profiteers existed before but this was a war specifically spoken of as a profit opportunity so get that resume and proposal bid in early. 12 billion disappeared because records weren't kept? Excuse me? Whose war was this? I know who died but who made great money? Who took the money and ran?

Who came home and was sent back and back again losing jobs and family, losing love and trust, who lost the war by winning if winning is what we even did since we remain there still. The once and forever war that keeps on ticking! The little people shed the blood not the privileged few. They shed the blood while private contractors earn three and four times the pay and never had to fight. Whose wars were these?

Meanwhile, along came Enron and World Com and pensions became a joke though not to someone who had devoted 20 years and was looking at five to go. Factories closed and family's got food stamps but away you go Johnny for another tour because we won't let you go because you are needed to shed the blood and contractors earn that better pay so you are the bottom rung in a war that will last forever. Whose wars were these? Abu Gharib as Washington said torture was legal while they sought to extend more tax cuts and back you go Johnny to a hell of hatred instead being welcomed with flowers!

Whose wars were these professor? These neocon occupations and oil field politics? Shock and awe and we leave it a shambles and you will have to stay Johnny! You will have to stay and the families at home will have to pay the costs of those business opportunities that never materialized as the billions dematerialized.

Well now Johnny we will never let you go and if the next war is that big stepping stone that the neocons wait for we will be calling you back Johnny because we want the wars that you will have to fight ... Because our wars are your wars Johnny... Welcome home if you still have one after millions were foreclosed on but don't get too comfortable...it isn't in the cards and not part of the plan of these endless wars.


I am not a fan of Mr. Bacevich. I find him cold, callous, and calculating. His critiques of the U.S. military never seem to touch the subject of the deaths so widely disseminated. A kind of mathematician, he's good at tactical analysis. Had he been born in Germany a few decades earlier, he would have made for a PERFECT Nazi soldier.

That's why seeing Bacevich open with this ridiculous comment confirms my view of the man:

"George W. Bush was eloquent on this point."

This strikes me as part of the process that will rewrite history around George Bush who was anything BUT eloquent.

And what is the basis for this assertion of eloquence? That Bush called for responsibility... in the form of the most base and primal sort of "justice"... as in that which was based on naked REVENGE.

Bacevich dresses that atavistic reflex up, too.... as thus:

"By choosing rectitude over profligacy, the nation could save itself."

Rectitude... Save... sounds like code words for Christian Dominionism and that belief system HAS heavily infiltrated the U.S. military.

This was used as a call TO war:

“After America was attacked, it was as if our entire country looked into a mirror and saw our better selves. We were reminded that we are citizens with obligations."

Here, Mr. Bacevich finally digs into the idolatry of Bush legacy:

"Although 9/11 briefly induced a mood of “United We Stand,” the invasion of Iraq, with all the mournful consequences that ensued, terminated that feel-good moment, and demolished Bush’s standing as moral arbiter."

THANK GOD only 1% show up to answer this "noble calling":

"In practice, roughly 1 percent of the population bears the burden of actually fighting our wars. A country that styles itself a democracy ought to find this troubling."

What's troubling are amoral goons like you, Bacevich, who don't question the wars, themselves... but feel the urge to get more kids enlisted to fight them! It apparently doesn't matter to you that entire nations have been destroyed, over a million killed, many millions left homeless, and infrastructure destroyed.

What kind of arrested adolescent development causes a person to take such an antiseptic view of the LOSS of human life?

What kind of childish true-believer beliefs justify this level of carnage; and then on top of it, to attempt to SHAME more into compliance?

It's a sickness. The fact that it's a pervasive disorder (Mars rules) doesn't make it any less a sickness of SOUL.


Here is a thinly veiled paean to military "service":

"These days, American culture posits a minimalist definition of citizenship. It emphasizes choice rather than duty and self-gratification over sacrifice — except where sacrifice happens to accord with personal preference. Individuals enjoy wide latitude in defining the terms of their relationship to the state. Pay your taxes and obey the law; civic obligation extends that far and no further."

Notice how there's no examination of the actual legacy of war and what the MIC's allies within the Weapons manufacturing plants have done to make the world far less safe and far more prone to future wars!

And how about this? Bacevich is setting up a blame peace-loving citizens as default for the MILITARY'S failures! Unbelievable!

"From the very outset of the war that the United States has for decades waged in various parts of the Islamic world, just the reverse has been true. An absence of cultural solidarity has undermined military effectiveness."

I don't know if Bacevich never studied Psychology or Sociology, but his descriptions of culture--as if culture exists in some sort of vacuum--seem not just naive. It's as if they purposely sanitize the role played by expert propaganda in SHAPING the public's perceptions... especially around war.

"In times of war, they abide by what the culture permits and adhere to what it requires. Simply put, culture shapes the American way of war."

Does Bacevitch also not notice the fact that Hollywood and the CIA seem rather chummy. That films are frequently produced that celebrate pro-war themes along with the TAUGHT idolatry of the soldier-hero-macho man?


This is also rich:

"As recently as the 1960s, antipathy toward a misguided and failing war generated mass protest. Today, instead of protest there is accommodation, with Americans remarkably untroubled by the inability of those presiding over the ebb and flow of military actions across the Greater Middle East to explain when, how, or even whether they will end."


But leave out the FACT that in the earlier epoch before the media was totally sold-out to 5 major broadcast corporations (thanks to both Reagan and Clinton), plenty of anti-war commentary was heard. The mass media of the 60's era didn't silence any critics of war!

And leave out the fact that an entity like Clear Channel could buy up 1800 Radio Stations and make sure that ANY voices critical of Bush (Dixie Chicks) or war were not heard.

When I came of age in the l960s, anti-war music was EVERYWHERE! And it definitely contributed to the passion that fueled the anti-war movement.

As if Bacevich doesn't recognize the role of music... in catalyzing protest movements.

It's been discussed (at least on this site and ones like it) that while Trump gets immense media "play time," Sanders gets little. And too often,, what little he does get is a total misrepresentation of his views.

In a similar manner, anti-war protests these days (and in the run-up to war against Iraq) get NO media face time; and anti-war intellectuals likewise.

Thus it's primarily the ILLUSION of this absence that's then argued as a fact. And without mentioning the significant role played by media and radio in inspiring an anti-war movement, instead, Bacevich does his "blame the people" shtick.

It's definitely a form of cowardice to blame The People who oppose war for the military's failures... although this same CRAP was pushed during the Vietnam era. That's chiefly why anti-war pundits, music, and editorials are no longer seen in the Captured Corporate media.

But to Bacevich, that's not worth mentioning. More important that he focus on the civilian's purported DUTY to show up to KILL innocents under the banner of each next Holy War crusade.

Goebbels would be proud! Truly, the natural-born soldier could fight in ANY uniform.


More disinformation:

"When it comes to war, however, not so much. The “peace movement,” to the extent that it can be said to exist, is anemic and almost entirely devoid of clout. Our politics allows no room for anything approximating an antiwar party. Instead, the tacit acceptance of war has become a distinguishing feature of contemporary American scene."

"OUR" politics... what, as opposed to the politics of the 1% donor class who--through Citizens United--gets to write policy?

How much debate is there on Capitalism?

How much funding for genuine alternatives to the old fossil fuel empires?

I guess Bacevich also missed the Page and Gilens study that proved that the public's wishes have ZERO influence over policy.

The constant mantra of fighting terrorism with armed gendarmes on every street, added to the silent watchers that are part of the total surveillance state are also not mentioned.

They sure made the Occupy Wall Street encampments comfortable.

But ARMED response to citizen protest is what, just superficial and not worthy of mention?

Just make it seem that people WANT war because the "anti war movement" is anemic... while also subliminally mocking movements for social justice based on gender and race.

I absolutely DETEST this individual. If he lived during Allen Dulles' era he likely would have enjoyed getting to know the Nazis imported to the American Military Cause.

Shame on the Boston Globe for publishing this LONG homage to the Military!

"With The People opting out, the burden of actually conducting the various campaigns launched pursuant to the Carter Doctrine falls to those who willingly make themselves available to fight. We may compare these volunteers to fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain: They are the Few. The many have other options and act accordingly."

"Those who make themselves available to fight..."

Hey, Andrew, you mean like all those drone pilots who can't sleep nights for turning REAL human beings into eliminated blips on a computer screen? Wow... what a HIGH call of duty!

Just following orders...

"So a central task for field commanders has been to figure out how to fight wars that the political class deems necessary but to which the rest of us are largely indifferent. In 2007, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, neatly summarized the problem. “In Afghanistan, we do what we can,” he remarked. “In Iraq, we do what we must.” Implicit in Mullen’s can/must formulation was the fact that in neither Afghanistan nor Iraq were commanders able to do what they wished."

WHY would you do what you MUST in Iraq?

Unquestioning authoritarian drones... YOU make the world unsafe for human beings! In your delusion, you spread calamity and call it defense!

Shame on the Boston Globe for publishing this shaming pro-war tripe!


In this paragraph, after doing the "nasty" on all those arty, peace-loving types, Bacevich argues that the public LONG CONDITIONED to war is a FAN of the military (as if this outcome arrived by organic means):

"In some quarters, as a sort of hangover from Vietnam, the belief persists that American culture, at least in those quarters where professors and artsy types congregate, is intrinsically anti-military. Nothing could be further from the truth. American culture is decidedly pro-military. All it asks is that military institutions get in step with the culture’s core requirements."

NOTHING this jackass says is true! He's a propagandist, and the entire article is meant to SHAME readers into respecting the military and/or sending their sons and daughters to those oh, so holy (and equally justified) ever expanding Killing Fields.


Bacevitch's key misaprehension:

"those who willingly make themselves available to fight. We may compare these volunteers to fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain: They are the Few. The many have other options and act accordingly."

He needs to further define the 'those' he speaks of. Those who volunteer for combat specialties are indeed, very much worth our admiration. As a veteran of the Vietnam conflict (non-combat) and as a recent civilain employee who worked with an intelligence wing of the USAF, I can certify that 99.9 percent of the military serving in non-combat roles are doing so for economic respite, for the benefits to be accrued, particularly for officers gunning for high positions, retiring after twenty years and then prostituting themsleves to the military/industrial sector. It is amazing the degree, the number of those retirees with federal jobs who frankly admit to one and all that the reason they attend night time classes at worthless private colleges (for worthless degrees) is simply for the cash payout, the largess that is larded out by the VA.

Bernie Sanders very much needed to call for an end to the all volunteer military, that everyone be required to serve in one way or another.

BRING BACK THE DRAFT and chase each and every NeoCon/AIPAC hawk out of the USA.


I have been calling for a return to the draft for years, you will get little positive response on these pages. Professional armies are a danger to representative government. Senator J. William Fulbright warned about this in the 1970s with his "The Pentagon Propaganda Machine." The following is from that book:

"There seems to be a lack of concern among too many people about the state of the nation, and a too easy acceptance of policies and actions of a kind that a generation ago would have appalled the citizenry. The apparent broad acceptance of the "volunteer army" idea comes to mind- a concept completely at variance with our historic development. Up to now, a blessing of our system has been that those who go into the military service, whether by enlistment or through the draft, could hardly wait to get out. But today, because of the exigencies of the times, there is a chance that we may turn our back on this fundamental principle: a large, standing professional army has no place in this Republic."

As long as armies exist, in democratic societies, the only legitimate army is a citizen army, brought about by draft.

Edit: I disagree about the abuse of private worthless colleges.


Note that I say that military retirees, employed by the federal government - having had twenty years active duty experience and now employed by the U.S. - admit that they're into nighttime education simply for the cash reward. I've ridden in van pools with them; much of what they talk about is their benefits, their retirement, the hassle of their evening classes and otherwise, reality TV. If one were to mention Mahler, they'd ask: "what's a mahler?"


Dear Siouxrose eleven: in regards to death, do you not know that Bacevitch's son was killed while having to serve in Iraq?

You are as much of an insufferable and bloviating egomaniac as is Trump.

As far out as are the God Hates Fags lunatics: THAT is how far out as you are.


The death of his son hardly changes the calculus.

This whole article is a disguised recruitment tool. What, so more sons of more fathers and mothers can continue to die?

What you call bloviating is the often NOT heard voice of WOMAN. WE don't want all this shitty war! There's nothing glorious or romantic about it; and frankly, those who advocate for it are holding humanity hostage, and retarding its progress.

Smoke that, you arrogant bloke.

And this "analogy" is as ridiculous as you are.

Someone with your kneejerk respect for Bacevich and/or the military can't begin to envision what I see:

"As far out as are the God Hates Fags lunatics: THAT is how far out as you are."

Males like you want to TAME women and decide the course of History for both... but all you maniacs ever do is create wars, destroy the earth's ecosystems, and use the pretext of threats of more war as excuse to continue on in MORE of same.



... In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon found it expedient to contract out functions traditionally performed by soldiers. When each of those wars was at its height, contractors in the employ of profit-minded security firms outnumbered G.I.s. Privatizing war provides a workaround to the predicament caused by having a large appetite for war while the people nurse appetites of a different sort.

The problem the neocons have is that we the people don't want to fight in the senseless wars they keep provoking. And rather than tell us that in order for the MIC to conduct its mission of total world domination, they are going to start the draft (which is what a nation does if the cause is just). That of course would create total havoc, so they just start hiring private contractors, the MIC grows ever larger, and the printing presses at the Fed keep on rolling. Then to justify the privatization of war as the people's fault, because not enough will enlist, is just beyond the pale.

It was the decision of the Bush Administration to cleanse the war for folks back home. The military embedded reporters from the many news organizations, and we got nice sanitized war, not the actual carnage. And when footage of actual carnage did appear, Chelsea Manning was found guilty on multiple counts including espionage. The US government is keeping real war out of sight on purpose.

Out of sight, out of mind. The MIC just keeps on rolling. It's such a successful model, the US has now expanded into the prison-industrial complex, which is bridged by the War on the Drugs. My tax dollars support all this. That's as much of a sacrifice I'm prepared to make to this government.

At the same time, I'm all in for the democracy movement!


"roughly 1 percent bear the burden of actually fighting" Oh.

About half the national budget goes to war making. This should make up for the
one percent. They have a lot of money behind them.

My taxes go towards wars and policies I oppose, and not into programs that I do support. Oh, brother, I do sacrifice.

Is that freedom?


I have beside me the current May edition of Harper's which contains a lengthy essay by Bacevich regards the American military and foreign policy since World War II. It makes all of your comments above so laughable and LUDICROUS.

As an addition to my previous gibe, add the words absolutist and abominable. You remind me of a remark by Churchill regards Stafford Cripps: "There but for the grace of god, goes god."


'Japhy Ryder' said it first and it always bears repeating: "Register your absence with The Null and Void Trust Company." Bravo, queequeq.


That would be 'goes goddess'. The great and wonderful goddess of the miraculous multiple screen names conveniently skips over the war hawk neocon militarism of Hillary who is in fact a woman. Nevertheless using mysterious and arcane powers beyond the ken of mortal man or woman, the pontificatoress of online preachifying and repetitious ranting about how men are military and women are pure of heart, gentle spirits and enlightened souls who would never cackle with pathological insensitivity and lack of empathy at the gruesome death by torture of anyone. "We came, we saw and he died!" Just is a typical example of the vicious male mentality, pure Aries mind in action etc.

Except that it was a female who laughed and it the female who wants to go to war amongst all the candidates.