For my money, one of the best military-political theorists of our time is retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich. I recently re-read his 2005 instant classic, “The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War”. […]
His analysis suggests a possible answer: “The Republican and Democratic parties may not be identical, but they produce nearly identical results. Money buys access and influence, the rich and famous get served, and those lacking wealth and celebrity get screwed…” “…the system is fundamentally corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with the spirit of genuine democracy. This anyone with eyes to see recognizes.” The Republican Bush was followed by the Democrat Obama, who embraced with only a bit less enthusiasm the killing of terrorists with the military cudgel.
It appears that the ideal of the citizen-soldier is all but dead, killed by the sacrifices it required of Middle America. But, the success of the all-volunteer Army is also problematic — further separating political decision-makers from any chance of being personally impacted by our nation’s conflicts. Because there is no active national draft, only a very tiny minority of the sons and daughters of the well-to-do currently serve in the military. Conversely, representation of the well-to-do among political elites is high.
This means that political elites seldom have any skin in America’s wars. They do, however, often own considerable stock in defense industries. For the most part, the children of those who hold either wealth or position are not killed or maimed in America’s wars any longer. Moreover, the political elites themselves have only rarely served in uniform. Those who know nothing of battle are the ones who tend to romanticize armed forces service the most.
Bacevich sums up beautifully in his afterword: “The “standing army” created in the wake of Vietnam has now become sacrosanct, cherished by the state as an instrument for projecting power and by the country at large as a convenient device for dodging responsibility.” Läs artikel