Monday, July 25, 2005

The Voluntary Army and War on the Cheap

As bloodshed in Iraq and around the world continues to demonstrate the failure of BushCorp™'s folly, two articles in today's New York Times make a good case as to why.

In the first, WWII Marine Corp vet and renowned war photographer David Douglas Duncan makes this point:

Today, in Iraq, where nearly every dawn is lacerated by mounting carnage - local and foreign - American troops are hemorrhaging among the wounded and the dead, pawns in an unspeakable farce, for the United States of America is not at war.

Only 135,000 men and women in American uniform are fighting - volunteers, members of the National Guard, reservists. There is no draft. No threat of a uniform hangs over the citizens of a nation of nearly 300 million who, in polls, support the invasion of a remote country upon whom our government would pin guilt of 9/11 ... and then attack. An invasion that was ordered by an expertly trained but combat-innocent fighter pilot and a draft-deferred character with "other priorities" during the Vietnam War. [Emphasis mine-CK]
And what is the result of this war on the cheap, run by draft-dodging chickenhawks? Stanford history professor David M. Kennedy has some thoughts:
The implications [of war with little societal cost-CK] are deeply unsettling: history's most potent military force can now be put into the field by a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so. We can now wage war while putting at risk very few of our sons and daughters, none of whom is obliged to serve. Modern warfare lays no significant burdens on the larger body of citizens in whose name war is being waged.

This is not a healthy situation. It is, among other things, a standing invitation to the kind of military adventurism that the founders correctly feared was the greatest danger of standing armies - a danger made manifest in their day by the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Jefferson described as having "transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm."

Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy. [Emphases mine-CK]
And in fact, one of the reasons BushCorp™ was able to go to war in Iraq on what can now seen as demonstrably flimsy evidence of Saddam's actual threat level is that it was able to do so without needing sacrifice on the part of everyday American's. Do you remeber Bush's call to arms after 9/11? Go shopping.

Not exactly Churchillian is it?

If all most Americans need to do to support war is to paste a yellow ribbon on their SUVs our leaders have a standing invitation to misuse the lives of those in our military.

I don't know if the conscription options offered by professor Kennedy are this country's best choices. But I do know that the all-volunteer Army is a loaded weapon that requires responsible leadership far wiser than is currently available from the chickenhawks of BushCorp™.

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