“For the U.S. military, being apolitical is a critical element of civilian control of the military,” the retired four-star general Joseph Dunford told our reporters.

It’s Monday, November 11. In today’s issue: when retired generals speak out (or mostly don’t). Plus, scenes of unrest in Bolivia and Hong Kong. Finally: the latest Dear Therapist column.

Today’s Top Story

November 11 by any other name

Throughout the countries of the British Commonwealth, it’s Remembrance Day. In France and Belgium, it’s Armistice Day. In the U.S., the date is observed as Veteran’s Day.

Elected officials—and the president especially—are quick to praise the American military, to thank troops. Recent national polls find Americans overwhelmingly confident in the strength of the U.S. armed forces.

“Yet when it comes to supporting military families in the most tangible way—financially—the U.S. falls flat,” one Atlantic editor, whose husband is a Navy doctor-in-training, wrote earlier this year.

In his fiery 2015 story, James Fallows wonders how the way America truly honors its troops could be changed, arguing that the country has slipped into a cycle of foreign entanglements, without reckoning with their costs both financial and human.

Read his full story.

curly quotation mark

Politicians say that national security is their first and most sacred duty, but they do not act as if this is so.


James Fallows, writing about the American military in 2015

A veteran’s view

In 2017, several veterans shared with us moving perspectives on various aspects of American life, informed by their military service.

I asked Nora Kelly Lee, a senior editor on our politics team who worked on this series, to recommend a highlight. She pointed to one essay from a former U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery officer, on an issue still deeply resonant today:

Before I enlisted, it never occurred to me that universal health care, let alone socialized medicine in any form, was a desirable option in the United States. Government health care in any form seemed oppressive to me, a limit on my freedom. But I found that, in many ways, the opposite was true. While any type of universal health-care system would have economic consequences, the associated gains—no longer worrying about coverage loss after a job change, for example, or feeling stressed about finding in-network doctors—for me outweigh that burden.

Read the full essay.

Evening Read

When retired generals feel compelled to speak out

Retired military officers are mostly hesitant to weigh in on politics—though not always. Kathy Gilsinan and Leah Feiger report on the tightrope of considerations these senior officials walk:

Say nothing as norms shatter around you, and you’re implicitly enabling a president who some of your former colleagues believe is threatening national security. Speak up, and you risk destroying the balance of power that protects American democracy.  

“For the U.S. military, being apolitical is a critical element of civilian control of the military—an absolute in a democracy,” the retired four-star general Joseph Dunford told us in his first extensive comments since leaving active duty. “The alternative is a military dictatorship.”

Read the full story.

Around the World

Our writers reflect on several events of this past weekend, and consider the movements behind them that are reshaping the world.

Bolivia

Evo Morales resigned after weeks of mass protest and crumbling support from within his own government.

The socialist president’s resignation “marks both a sea change in Latin American politics and a stinging rebuke to the naïveté of parts of the Western left,” Yascha Mounk argues.

Hong Kong

Violence flares again: A protester was shot in the stomach, and a man was set on fire after arguing with demonstrators.

Back in 1997, China made a pact with Britain, agreeing to maintain Hong Kong’s liberty for 50-years. Now, artists and pro-democracy protesters count down to that fateful date: 2047.

Italy

An 89-year-old Holocaust survivor was assigned a police escort following anti-semitic threats against her.

How Matteo Salvini—the leader of the country’s right-wing, nativist League party—and his allies publicly respond to the anti-semitic vitriol enveloping Liliana Segre “will determine what kind of country Italy wants to be,” Rachel Donadio writes.

Dear Therapist

Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. This week, she advises a mother upset with her new roommate’s—her adult daughter’s—habits:

Four months ago, my 33-year-old daughter moved back in with me (with her dog!!!) after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, whom she lived with in another state. Of course, if my children need shelter, my home is always open, so it was only natural that I would welcome her and her dog.

The problem is that she has an, ahem, active social life.

→ Read the rest, and Lori’s response. Write to Lori anytime at dear.therapist@theatlantic.com.

The Atlantic Crossword

2-Down, five letters: Don Giovanni or Nixon in China

Try your hand at our daily mini crossword (available on our site here), which gets more challenging through the week.

→ Challenge your friends, or try to beat your own solving time.

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