Sep 13, 2022
We are not a good and virtuous nation. God does not bless us above other nations. Victory is not assured. War is not noble and uplifting. The clash between the reality of combat and the Disneyfied version of combat consumed by the public, one that propels many young men and women into war, creates not only dissonance and moral injury, but an existential crisis, an existential crisis combat veterans, at least those who are self-reflective, must cope with for the rest of their lives.
Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who fought in Vietnam, and Danny Sjursen, a retired Army major who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, have just published Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars. Bacevich and Sjursen, West Point graduates like many writers in the book, come out of the military culture. They began as true believers, embracing the myths of American goodness and virtue, and the military honor code pounded into them as young cadets at the military academy. The reality of combat, as it has for generations, exposed the lies told by the generals and politicians.
Andrew Bacevich is a West Point graduate, retired Army Colonel, and Vietnam war veteran. He is also an emeritus professor of history and international relations at Boston University and the co-founder and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His books include The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism and After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed. He is the editor of the book Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars.