Saturday, February 22, 2020

Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the U.S. Military


theamericanconservative  |   What do you call a civilian law professor who, after successfully filing for federal whistleblower status to keep his job teaching at West Point Military Academy, proceeds to write a bombshell book about the systematic corruption, violence, fraud, and anti-intellectualism he says has been rampant at the historic institution for over a hundred years?

Well, if you are part of the military leadership or an alumnus of the storied military academy, you may call him a traitor.

But if you are anyone searching for reasons why the most powerful military in the world has not won a war in 75 years, you might call him a truth-teller. And a pretty brave one at that.

Tim Bakken’s The Cost of Loyalty: Dishonesty, Hubris and Failure in the U.S. Militaryis set for release tomorrow, and it should land like a grenade. Unlike the myriad critiques of the military that wash over the institution from outside the Blob, this one is written by a professor with 20 years on the inside. He knows the instructors, the culture, the admissions process, the scandals, the cover-ups, and how its legendary “warrior-scholars” have performed after graduation and on the battlefield.

Bakken’s prognosis: the military as an institution has become so separate, so insulated, so authoritarian, that it can no longer perform effectively. In fact, it’s worse: the very nature of this beast is that it has been able to grow exponentially in size and mission so that it now conducts destructive expeditionary wars overseas with little or no real cohesive strategy or oversight. Its huge budgets are a source of corporate grift, self-justification, and corruption. The military has become too big, yes, but as Bakkan puts it, it’s failing in every way possible.

In addition to losing wars, “the military’s loyalty to itself and determined separation from society have produced an authoritarian institution that is contributing to the erosion of American democracy,” writes Bakkan, who is still, we emphasize, teaching at the school. “The hubris, arrogance, and self-righteousness of officers have isolated the military from modern thinking and mores. As a result, the military operates in an intellectual fog, relying on philosophy and practices that literally originated at West Point two hundred years ago.”