cover image Breach of Trust: 
How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

Andrew C. Bacevich. Metropolitan, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8296-8

Despite our ostensible admiration of our men and women in arms, Americans have “offloaded” the full burden of war onto their shoulders—with dismal results, argues Boston University history professor and Army vet Bacevich (Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War) in this impassioned and painfully convincing polemic. Our Founding Fathers proclaimed that all free people must make sacrifices when the nation goes to war. As late as WWII, the draft affected nearly everyone, with most people having a family member, friend, or colleague in the service. F.D.R.’s government raised taxes and instituted price controls and rationing, yet few complained. Bacevich emphasizes that eliminating the draft in 1973 sowed the seeds of disaster. When Bush announced the war on terror in 2001, the president mobilized volunteer troops, but not the nation; he urged Americans to “enjoy life,” and he cut taxes. Since borrowing paid the bill, and there was no draft, few complained. When the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned sour, protests were mild compared to the upheavals over Vietnam. Bacevich asserts bluntly that a disengaged and compliant citizenry has reduced military service from a universal duty to a matter of individual choice, allowing our leaders to wage war whenever (and for however long) they choose—with little to fear from an electorate who are neither paying nor perishing. (Sept. 10)