The cadets in Major Jason Dempsey’s Social Sciences 490A, Advanced Study in Defense Policy and Civil-Military Relations, at West Point, began the semester by reading Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers,” a seminal piece of right-wing militaristic science fiction. In February, they studied Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address—the speech that warned against a coming “military-industrial complex.” Then they read the popular antiwar novel “Johnny Got His Gun,” and, one morning recently, they watched Eugene Jarecki’s new documentary, “Why We Fight,” which opens with the Eisenhower speech, and is highly critical of the decision to invade Iraq.
“One cadet, she asked me if I’m trying to make them all conscientious objectors,” Dempsey joked on the day of the screening. For the occasion, he had invited Jarecki to appear before the class.
Jarecki leaped at Dempsey’s offer. “It probably doesn’t strike most people how much deep thinking goes on among the military,” he said, sitting in the back seat of a Town Car, on the drive up from Manhattan. “Blaming the military for Iraq is blaming the messenger and the victim.” Jarecki was wearing rumpled khakis and a blue blazer, with an “Ike” pin affixed to his lapel. “I go in here with a tremendous amount of good feeling,” he said. “Though I might come out of here on a stretcher today, you never know.”
Read the full article at The New Yorker.