Multiple tour combat veteran (DS/DS - OIF) and Army Retiree here. Served as an Infantry Officer and Ranger for over twenty years.

I am truly ashamed of my “service” to the corporations and embarrassed that I didn’t fully grasp the death and destruction we did, until after I retired. I am sickened by the greed that we enabled. I am sickened by the death, destruction, and pain we caused the Iraqi people!

I lived in a world of illusion and rationalization for years. I put my mouth on the fire hydrant of propaganda for far too long and drank hard. I am now a “Veteran for Peace” and do volunteer work on the Pine Ridge Reservation to try to truly serve humanity. I ask for forgiveness every day and know in my heart, I don’t deserve it!

I have 2x hip replacements, a cervical disc replacement, spinal cord stimulator implant and deal with TBIs, PTS and chronic pain. I deserve every bit of it! The Iraqi people suffered much greater calamities than I ever will. God bless every one of them. I grew up working on a sheep/goat ranch through high school and Kollidge and feel a greater affinity to the Iraqi people than the posh politicians that sent us off to fight for the corporations to get rich beyond description.

For anyone reading this, please look up www.defendourprotectors.com and the “Stop G-RAP Injustice” on Facebook. Tens of thousands of us had the Govt turn on us and many noble and good people are in jail or in hell for a corrupt and misguided recruiting program that saved the country from a draft during the heights of the “Global War on Terror.” Ashamedly, it is what it took for me to see the evilness of our Govt and Corporations. They turned on the very soldiers that fought and suffered, and recruited people for more of the same.

I have a war bag full of regrets and heartache (again, nothing compared to the suffering of the Iraqi people). I should have become a wildlife biologist when I was at the crossroads of my life in college and not gone into the military.

I just pray that I can do some good in this world for however long I have left. I pray for my combat brothers and sisters that are suffering in physical, mental, spiritual and emotional pain. Again, I pray for the beautiful Iraqi people. May we all find peace. Peace.

Expand full comment

It's terrific to hear this intelligent and incisive discussion of US wars by two people who have had first hand experience with the realities that wars involved. The US has shown itself too eager to go to war, and it is always reluctant to reveal both its motivations and its behavior while engaged in it.

Expand full comment

Thank you !!!

An obligatory word in US corporate media when mentioning the relentlessly provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine is to add -- “unprovoked”…

The killing of Azov POW by hi-mars missiles was certainly ordered by US CIA overseers – dead Nazis don’t talk. US government knows exactly who Zelenski’s Ukro-Nazis government is… -- as always US supports extreme right-wing fascist side.

Russia is fighting for ALL of us – US population is in a death grip of uni-party War party where Dem versus GOP are identical but offer a three ring-circus for US population. It is 1% versus 99% -- Stand with Russia !!

Expand full comment

I have always respected Chris Hedges and Andrew Bacevich; however, I never have and never will accept the official narrative of 911. It's a fairy tale. Hedges has never to my knowledge discussed 911 in his work or public lectures.

Expand full comment

An excellent discussion of the nature of war and how it effects our veterans.

Expand full comment

This conversation illustrates how very difficult historical perspective is to gain and how even more difficult it is to implement in national policy once gained.

Deep change is slow.

Expand full comment

Powerful and thought provoking dialogue. The comments by listeners were also valuable and worth pondering. If military veterans are only 7 % of the U.S. population, it forebodes the impact that additional testimonies will have in the future. Fewer future veterans would be great for Peace and the end of the Empire, but fewer veteran narratives exposing the compromise and capture of the Congress by the corporations will result in dilution of veteran pragmatism to the general public and the historical record.

Expand full comment

They say I am autistic but they can't tell me what that means. I am 74 and couldn't do school and am learning how to write.

I have a different understanding of the universe. In 1794 Vilnius was destroyed by the Empires.


Vilnius was the center of the Enlightenment. It was a liberal Democracy in the center of Europe and the Capital of the Age of Reason and Enlightenment. In 1794 Europe chose Reason and abandoned Enlightenment. In 1854 Tennyson excused the madness of the suicide of Britain's best and brightest in Crimea thusly.

Ours is not to reason why,

Ours but to do and die.

Russia wouldn't have been the Crimea in 1853 if the Empires had stood up for Vilnius.

My history tells me we didn't see liberal democracy until Paris in 1871 and liberal democracy lasted ten whole days.

Meanwhile Cotton Mather's Old School is still hunting witches. This witch is hot enough.

There were no revolutions in America and France; they went from Empire to Empire.

Expand full comment

As a non US-American I’d say as long as the US society (including huge parts of the left) still (only) portrays veterans as victims and honorable people, the MIC can do whatever it wants and already does.

I get that some men and women didn’t have a lot of options in life other than the military to get out of bad life situations.

I get that the powers to be in Empire use poor and working class people for their own interests.

I get that we all (even those outside the US at least in “the West”) profit in some ways from Empire and capitalism and play a role and have our responsibilities for the dark sides of Empire.

I get that a lot of veterans really are suffering and in pain and deserve to see these things attended to.

But as long as we excuse the lives choices of grown up individuals to earn their living by killing black and brown people around the globe for reasons not to be justified by even the most giving just-war-theory we don’t respect those soldiers and their decisions. The US hasn’t had a war that was in any way justifiable since (at least) WW II. So everybody could/should have known what they signed up for.

I get that veterans need help. But I really have to take a lot of compassion to accept caring for the trauma of soldiers that they got from killing innocent people, destroying homes and peoples while nobody cares about their victims or discusses the responsibility of the single soldier.

I think it is something when veterans speak out against the military and political leadership.

But Bacevich still trying to justify Afghanistan with 9/11 while not talking about Saudi Arabia shows how he still believes and defends the system.

His formulations and vocabulary are still putting distance between himself and the horrors of war. Talking about “americas misguided wars” is at least dumb and unreflected but in the end really just cynical. The US (not “American”) wars are violating international law, every decent moral standard and human rights. By choice and design.

I am with Tucholsky: Soldiers are murderers. Everything else is a farce.

Expand full comment

Greetings from a friend of FLVeterans for Çommon Sense. Colonel Bacevich is a favorite of ours. This interview was engrossing. It stopped too soon. I've recently participated in a course and ZOOM by World Beyond War. They argue no wars are justified. There data and argument makes sense except they leave out humans have to implement them. Are you familiar with Robert Gagnon and his take on the Ukrainian war? Very different from what we hear. Chris, thank you so much. A long time admirer.

Expand full comment

TRUTH on War, but even more importantly on this "Quiet American" EMPIRE

Expand full comment

It was anti-climatic, almost painful to watch, Hedges try to pull out any tooth of wisdom from the mouth of Bacevich. He appears as co-editor of a book devoted to soldiers who dissent from mindless militarism. Yet he acts more like a mediocre retired diplomat stonewalling the very debacles in our forever wars the book was meant to criticize. There's something bloodless about his demeanor and evasiveness for a combat veteran. I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam at a base hospital. Just a clueless kid from the working class. But I had it with war ever since my tour of duty. What I saw was a freak show of physical, emotional and spiritual deformities who had their humanity stolen from them. All in the name of patriotism. It was obscene. And the brass were the worse. Lions led by mules, as the antiwar critics in England said, about the generals after the First World War. These forever wars have destroyed the soul of our nation. The empire may limp along for perhaps a decade or so but will eventually collapse as will our society. That's what I really fear, the coming anarchy that will be unleased, when the country self-implodes like the Twin Towers did on 9/11. Now that we are in the Weimar Republic phase of our decline, some American bastard form of dictatorship with Christian flags is our future, as Hedges pointed out in one of his books. The oligarchs will destroy the middle class as they have the ethos of the military. Our future is global neo-feudalism, as Professor Joel Kotkin predicted in his book, "The Coming Neo-Feudalism." I know I should empathize with the soldiers in our army. But you learn the lessons in life the hard way or easy way. They chose the hard way. So be it. It was their choice. They didn't have the draft breathing down their necks like the neighborhood pedophile. Bacevich is in deep denial about who he is. That comes under the heading of a personal problem. He remains "the good soldier," as Colin Powell was. He will be judged accordingly by future historians.

Expand full comment

Very interesting Chris. Let me start by saying that I disagree with Mr. Bacevich about Afghanistan. The Taliban did not enable Al-Qaeda. The United States created Al-Qaeda as part of Charlie Parker's war which really should be called Zbigniew Brzezinski's war. While the Taliban were sympathetic to Al-Qaeda in the sense that they were both fundamentalist Muslims (and frankly, not all that different from evangelical Christians) they were fundamentally different organizations. Please note that all the planning and execution of OBL's plan happened in Germany and Somalia. As A-Q was successively chased out of both those countries. They got to Afghanistan only a couple of months before the deed of 9/11 was done. At that point the Taliban didn't control all the country with our Norther Alliance controlling about 20% and the Taliban the other 80%. Could the Taliban controlled A-Q? Prolly not.

So why didn't we just cooperate with the Taliban government and, using Taliban help, round up the A-Q in Afghanistan? Because Shrub (he's just a little bush - Molly Ivans) knew that he had fucked up, big time. In a typical distortion, he had to blame the uninvolved, look tough, strut around like a cock crow. A whole lotta people, mostly totally innocent Iraqis, died for his ego.

I have to wonder how many people realize that all of our wars have been based on false or fabricated or essentially non-existent bases.

Expand full comment