What Kind of Democracy?

On NPR this morning, a brief feature on the family of Andrew Bacevich, a young Boston University graduate and U.S. Army lieutenant killed last week in Iraq. His death drew special attention because his father, also Andrew Bacevich, a former Army officer and military and diplomatic historian at Boston University, is both conservative and a penetrating critic of the Iraq war.

The elder Bacevich published a book a couple years ago called “The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War.” Among other things, it’s a critique of the rise of an “imperial” military culture in the wake of Vietnam, the military’s elevation to a superior moral status, especially in the wake of 9/11, and the current Bush’s attempt to adopt the military as a special constituency. (Here’s an excerpt.)

In the NPR story, Bacevich reflected briefly on his son and his own role as a citizen:

” ‘One of the things that I’ve been really struggling with over the last several days is to understand my own responsibility for my son’s death,” Bacevich said.

“Bacevich says he thought his responsibility as a citizen was to give voice to his concerns about the war. His loss, he says, has made him question the lasting value of his criticism.

” ‘What kind of democracy is this when the people do speak, and the people’s voice is unambiguous, but nothing happens?’ ”

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