Major General Walter L. Stewart (Ret.) argues persuasively that Richard Nixon and Jane Fonda were the mother and father of modern day American foreign military entanglements:
In 1969, with his order to a presidential commission to justify an end to the draft, President Nixon planted the seeds of military adventurism that first bore fruit in Beirut, know the bitter harvest of Somalia and Iraq, and ripen for the picking in Iran. The all-volunteer military, as grateful senior leaders like to say, “wants to be there,” and “there,” with the surrender of Congress, has devolved to the call of a single person — a “decider.”
Nixon, to the delight of presidents who followed and now legions of neocons and chicken hawks, decided the centuries-old struggle between the sometimes imperialism of Alexander Hamilton and the always republicanism of James Madison in favor of Hamilton. (See Helvidius No. 1, written in 1793, for a debate on the “Bush doctrine ” of pre-emptive war.)
I remember Nixon's pathetic plan to have White House guards re-uniformed in imperial costumes — a buffoonery the American people laughed into the trash bin of bad ideas. Now, almost 40 years later, we find that Nixon has the last laugh, because even though he did not get the plumed hats of a Sun King’s court, he did get a king’s military — a professional military that “wants to be there” — and our republican ethic of shared sacrifice has not survived.
But Nixon could not have done this without help from the strange bedfellows of America’s anti-war and anti-draft left. How ironic that the radical left of the Vietnam era joined with Nixon to force the replacement of a complaining, questioning, yet “valiant for the right fight” draft-induced army with an army that never complains or questions. If Nixon is the father of the all-volunteer military — and some have credited economist Milton Friedman — then Jane Fonda is surely its mother.
Their creation of a military that “wants to be there” would invite war as whimsy; free congressmen and congresswomen to trivialize soldier sacrifice with “thank you for your service” platitudes; consign diplomacy, if it is in the race at all, to run a poor second to force; and lift the spirits of millions of uninvolved Americans by perversely equating the hardships and blood-costs of soldiering with going shopping and paying taxes.