The United States has been at war for more than a decade. Yet as war has become rmalized, a yawning gap has opened between America's soldiers and the society in whose name they fight. For ordinary citizens, as former secretary of defence Robert Gates has ackwledged, armed conflict has become an abstraction and military service something for other people to do. Citing figures as diverse as the martyr-theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the marine-turned-anti-warrior Smedley Butler, Breach of Trust summons Americans to restore that principle. Rather than something for other people to do, national defence should become the business of we the people. Should Americans refuse to shoulder this responsibility, Bacevich warns, the prospect of endless war, waged by a foreign legion of professionals and contractor - mercenaries, beckons. So too does bankruptcy - moral as well as fiscal.
Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, served for twenty-three years as an officer in the U.S. Army. He is the author of Washington Rules, The Limits of Power, and The New American Militarism, among other books. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.