The Cost of Loyalty
Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the U.S. Military
by Tim Bakken
Pub Date 18 Feb 2020
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A courageous and damning look at the destruction wrought by the arrogance, incompetence, and duplicity prevalent in the U.S. military-from the inside perspective of a West Point professor of law.
Veneration for the military is a deeply embedded but fatal flaw in America's collective identity. In twenty years at West Point, whistleblower Tim Bakken has come to understand how unquestioned faith isolates the U.S. armed forces from civil society and leads to catastrophe. Pervaded by chronic deceit, the military's insular culture elevates blind loyalty above all other values. The consequences are undeniably grim: failure in every war since World War II, millions of lives lost around the globe, and trillions of dollars wasted.
Bakken makes the case that the culture he has observed at West Point influences whether America starts wars and how it prosecutes them. Despite fabricated admissions data, rampant cheating, epidemics of sexual assault, archaic curriculums, and shoddy teaching, the military academies produce officers who maintain their privileges at any cost to the nation. Any dissenter is crushed. Bakken revisits all the major wars the United States has fought, from Korea to the current debacles in the Middle East, to show how the military culture produces one failure after another.
The Cost of Loyalty is a powerful, multifaceted revelation about the United States and its singular source of pride. One of the few federal employees ever to win a whistleblowing case against the U.S. military, Bakken, in this brave, timely, and urgently necessary book, and at great personal risk, helps us understand why America loses wars.
Tim Bakken is the first civilian promoted to professor of law in West Point’s history. He became a federal whistleblower after reporting corruption at West Point and, after the Army retaliated against him, became one of the few federal employees to win a retaliation case against the U.S. military. A former homicide prosecutor in Brooklyn, Bakken received law degrees from Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin and is still teaching at West Point. He lives in New York City.