An Old Soldier's Lament


You could say the United States military has gone to the dogs. It's a top down problem. It's a contagion that doesn't stop at America's borders.

In today's Tom Dispatch, veteran US Army commander turned academic, Andrew Bacevich, dissects "the Petraeus-era cohort of war-losing, the-buck-stops-somewhere-else, upwards-failing generals."

...Somehow, the American people, our political establishment, and our military have all fallen into the habit of shrugging off or simply ignoring disappointing outcomes. A few years ago, a serving army officer of unusual courage published an essay — in Armed Forces Journal no less — in which he charged that “a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”

The charge stung because it was irrefutably true then and it remains so today.

As American politics has become increasingly contentious, the range of issues on which citizens agree has narrowed to the point of invisibility. For Democrats, promoting diversity has become akin to a sacred obligation. For Republicans, the very term is synonymous with political correctness run amok. Meanwhile, GOP supporters treat the Second Amendment as if it were a text Moses carried down from Mount Sinai, while Democrats blame the so-called right to bear arms for a plague of school shootings in this country.

So, America has become complacent to its military failures and its "upwards failing generals." Does it matter? Frankly, yes.

There are plenty of reports warning that heavily armed rightwing gangs may rise up against their government, especially if the Democrats win the 2024 elections.

If armed violence erupts the 2024 elections, quelling it could fall to the U.S. military, which may be reluctant to take arms against U.S. citizens.

On the weekend three retired generals warned that there are potential mutineers in the ranks of the top brass, individuals who cannot be relied upon to defend government against an insurrection in 2024. That wouldn't be without precedent. The Confederate Army was full of former Union Army generals, West Point grads at that. Until recently some of America's largest military bases were named in honour of these very traitors.

The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there. On Jan. 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than 1 in 10 of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections.

The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.

Given America's military history this isn't just a possibility, it's more of a tradition. The Joint Chiefs of Staff obviously had this in mind when, in the wake of the January 6th uprising, they felt they had to issue a stern warning to their own commanders and troops that their duty was to the Constitution and only the Constitution. 


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