May 27, 2013
Eternal War

The excerpt below is from an op-ed in the New York Times by Karl W. Eikenberry and David M. Kennedy. The first is a retired general and former ambassador to Afghanistan; the second is an emeritus professor of history at Stanford. Read the whole article. It is the only intelligent and useful thing about the military you are likely to run across on Memorial Day.

…The Congressional Research Service has documented 144 military deployments in the 40 years since adoption of the all-voluntary force in 1973, compared with 19 in the 27-year period of the Selective Service draft following World War II — an increase in reliance on military force traceable in no small part to the distance that has come to separate the civil and military sectors. The modern force presents presidents with a moral hazard, making it easier for them to resort to arms with little concern for the economic consequences or political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans are happy to thank the volunteer soldiers who make it possible for them not to serve, and deem it is somehow unpatriotic to call their armed forces to task when things go awry…

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at May 27, 2013 11:08 AM
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I sometimes wonder if we are locked into thinking we are smarter than we are....and we are not. Historically, war was where the younger, landless sons went to make their fortunes; and any non-gentry types followed for the plunder. And aside from wives and children (who used to follow in their wakes) nobody at home really gave a damn whether they ever came back.

I think it is still true in a lot of ways. Nobody wants the bills for veteran care, for instance; all politicians prefer their heroes conveniently dead.

Posted by: on May 29, 2013 1:36 PM

One of the biggest mistakes the Boomer Generation made was eliminating the draft. Its intent was good – to prevent the interruption of hundreds of thousands of lives every year just to provide leverage for pro-war crazies.

But the Law of Unintended Consequence took off full tilt from this. Now, without fear of major public backlash, politicians can dispatch exhausted soldiers anywhere in the world, whenever they effin' feel like it, to fight in wars, whether the motivation is real or make-believe. When the President or Congress worried about millions of mother marching on Washington to protest the conscription, maiming and deaths of their children in mindless, pointless battles, this couldn't happen.

Bring back the draft.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on May 31, 2013 1:43 PM
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