Imagine two liars committed to the same lie for different reasons. Imagine telling half the world communism is the wave of the future, while the other half believes there is no future without Communism.
Imagine learning that both feared they were wrong because the price was too high, the burden too heavy, the hardship too great to assure the survival and the success of the status quo. Imagine the globe warming to the idea that the Cold War was over, despite no words of surrender from the Kremlin and no orders to advance by the White House.
In spite of everything, we won.
We could have won sooner had those within and outside our government not done their best to exact the worst unto Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. By honoring his office by resigning from office, Nixon’s enemies made it impossible for him to achieve peace with honor in South Vietnam. What followed was chaos in Saigon and genocide in Cambodia. What followed was the humiliation of American soldiers by American students, with approval from China and Russia.
With Reagan, the push (or putsch) began anew. It was a matter of consensus within the government, in spite of the consent of the governed, that Reagan was too dangerous to govern. He said history would record that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent our loss of freedom.
Such was the way of the world—of life in a world of lies—until an officer in the U.S. Army saw the truth with his own eyes. He saw an empire vanish, as if it had neutralized itself, as if it had detonated a neutron bomb. He saw death through decades of decay.
His name is Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.
On this day, May Day, we owe it to ourselves to know his name. Because he hates war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only has one who has seen the futility of its plans and the stupidity of its planners, because he knows how little wisdom there is in centralized intelligence, in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), because of these things, Bacevich deserves an everlasting name.
He may disagree with my interpretation of history. About his writing of history, let there be no doubt: He is right.
Photo credit: Andrew Bacevich by Win McNamee/Getty Images