Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A Death in Iraq

The Washington Post regularly publishes a list of American soldiers killed in Iraq. As I scanned the list yesterday I was startled to see the following notice: “1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, 27, of Walpole, Mass., died May 13 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat patrol operations in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq.”

I was startled because Professor Andy Bacevich, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War vet, was a colleague of mine for a time at Johns Hopkins SAIS. He has since moved on to Boston University. Given the name, I assumed this must have been his son, which a quick search confirmed. The story is particularly notable because Andy has been a sharp and influential critic of the Iraq War – and of the direction of American foreign policy since at least World War II, which Andy sees (in a conservative neo-Beardian analysis) as aggressively imperialistic. He and I did not agree on the latter point but I found him to be a gentleman, a serious scholar, and a sincere patriot. A Professor at BU is quoted in the story: “I think young Bacevich joined because of what he saw in his father. I think he felt as his father did, that regardless of what you think of the particular politics of the administration, that service to the country is a pretty high value.”

I would also note that the son of another former colleague at SAIS, Eliot Cohen (now Counsellor to the Secretary of State) is likewise serving in Iraq. Eliot is on the other side of the issue from Andy. He was an advocate of Operation Iraqi Freedom (although he developed serious reservations about the way in which the war has been conducted). But the same ethic is at work.

Something to think about as you enjoy tonight’s San Antonio-Phoenix game and grouse about the injustice of the player suspensions.

Discussions - 10 Comments

With all due respect, Professor Bacevich is a flake if he thinks our foreign policy since WW II has been "aggressively imperialistic." "Gentleman, serious scholar, and sincere patriot" or not, he's disastrously wrong about that. To the extent he voices such views in public on this crucial question, Bacevich degrades the debate and gives completely undeserved cover to the hard, anti-American left. Friends like these, we don't need.

Nice, empty ad hominem.

I think Prof. Bacevich is a leftist. But he has written for Chronicles and The American Conservative because of his anti-interventionist stance.

True Right, if you were really true right you would be anti-intervention as well. Interventionism is inherently big government.

May Lt. Bacevich rest in peace.

Patrick Garrity posts a touching and disturbing story, and we get these impulsive and altogether unkind comments, which miss the point -- a distinguished father, an informed critique of Iraq policy, and his relatively privileged and only son doing his duty.

The comments assert that the grieving father (who served in Vietnam) is a "flake" and a "leftist." People, listen to yourselves!

Steve, I was simply informing True (sic) Right that Prof. Bacevich is, I believe, a leftist. I could be wrong. I only did that because I thought by saying he was "giving cover" to the hard left, TR thought he wasn't one. No offense was intended.

Right now, in this circumstance, Prof. Bacevich is a simply a father. His politics are irrelevant to this. He must be good man and father to have a son who would serve his country in this way. We don't honor the son by attacking his father. All sympathy.

During his time at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Bacevich was an occasional contributor to First Things. He was raised Catholic and gave little indication in his articles that he ought be considered to have lapsed.

I think that suggests he is

1. a man of the right generally or

2. a man of conservative sympathies on social and cultural questions, but not otherwise. (Examples of the latter being Juli Loesch Wiley, Peter Steinfels, Wendell Berry, and the late Christopher Lasch).

Recalling his article in the Wilson Quarterly a couple of years back, I would have to agree with True Right that his characterizations of American foreign policy have been, in recent years, rather florid.

For an aggressive imperialist, we sure withdraw a lot, from Vietnam, from Lebanon, from Somalia, and, soon, from Iraq.

He must be good man and father to have a son who would serve his country in this way. We don't honor the son by attacking his father. All sympathy.


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