February 18, 2007
A Marriage Made in Hell

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.



Posted by Buck Batard at February 18, 2007 10:25 PM
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Memories, memories. Buck puts up a poster with FTA on it. What does FTA stand for? Well, back in 1957 it got one draftee brought up on court martial charges (later dropped to company punishment) for conduct unbecoming a soldier, incitement to riot, incitement to mutiny, and sending obscene material through the mails. I was editor of an Army newspaper, and I had filled out the bottom of a column with a reenlistment plug that began as follows: Follow unusual careers! Keep the high esteem and ready made, year-round security, etc. etc.

To break this fiendishly clever code, use only the first letter of each word. That's what agents of the Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps did.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on February 18, 2007 11:16 PM

You might find this 12 minute trailer for a British Documentary, “Sir! No Sir!”that describes the FTA movement during the Vietnam War interesting.

Posted by: Buck on February 19, 2007 7:51 AM

Interesting. Wonder how far back Foxtrot Tango Alpha goes? (Fox Tare Able when I was drafted). My pathetic little squib wasn't the beginning of FTA. One of the teams in the Military District of Washington softball league was called the FTAs, which the players claimed meant Finest Team Around. And while I was stationed at Ft. McNair, a bunch of draftees at Ft. Holabird threw a drunken off-base party for a guy who was mustering out, during the course of which they hung an FTA banner from a window and shouted FTA into the night, no doubt meaning Finest Team Around. Unlike me, several of them were court martialed and jailed. I probably would have been too, if my superiors, as they thought of themselves, hadn't somehow got the idea that I was related to General Jimmy Doolittle.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on February 19, 2007 10:22 AM
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