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.