'Permanent War' Threatens US Democracy
Mounting Disrespect Should Trigger Alarms
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2010 3:37 AM CDT
Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry brief reporters earlier this year ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to the White House.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Newser) – An age-old truth is rearing its ugly head in the US Afghanistan command: long wars and democracy don't mix, Andrew Bacevich writes in the Washington Post. Finding itself in a state of endless war—that folks back home can and do ignore—the military has adopted a "culture of contempt" toward civilian leaders that goes far deeper than Stanley McChrystal, Bacevich argues.

The standing army of professional soldiers, a system developed after Vietnam, threatens to crack from the top down, Bacevich says, unless the American people "reclaim ownership of their army." This means either giving "their soldiers respite, by insisting that Washington abandon its de facto policy of perpetual war" or becoming "a nation truly 'at' war, with all that implies in terms of civic obligation, fiscal policies and domestic priorities. Should the people choose neither course—and thereby subject their troops to continuing abuse—the damage to the army and to American democracy will be severe."