Friday, March 25, 2016

William J. Astore — A Military Leviathan Has Emerged as America’s 51st and Most Powerful State

Most Americans were happy to see the draft abolished. (Although young men still register for selective service at age 18, there are neither popular calls for its return, nor serious plans to revive it.) Yet its end was not celebrated by all. At the time, some military men advised against it, convinced that what, in fact, did happen would happen: that an all-volunteer force would become more prone to military adventurism enabled by civilian leaders who no longer had to consider the sort of opposition draft call-ups might create for undeclared and unpopular wars.
In 1982, historian Joseph Ellis summed up such sentiments in a prophetic passage in an essay titled “Learning Military Lessons from Vietnam” (from the book Men at War):
“[V]irtually all studies of the all-volunteer army have indicated that it is likely to be less representative of and responsive to popular opinion, more expensive, more jealous of its own prerogatives, more xenophobic—in other words, more likely to repeat some of the most grievous mistakes of Vietnam … Perhaps the most worrisome feature of the all-volunteer army is that it encourages soldiers to insulate themselves from civilian society and allows them to cling tenaciously to outmoded visions of the profession of arms. It certainly puts an increased burden of responsibility on civilian officials to impose restraints on military operations, restraints which the soldiers will surely perceive as unjustified.”…
One matter that Astore didn't get right.
There was a time when old soldiers like Douglas MacArthur talked wistfully about fading away in retirement. Not so for today’s senior military officers. Like so many politicians, they regularly go in search of the millionaires’ club on leaving public service, even as they accept six-figure pensions and other retirement benefits from the government.…
After retirement, Gen. MacArthur became chairman of Sperry Rand.

Truthdig
A Military Leviathan Has Emerged as America’s 51st and Most Powerful State
William J. Astore, retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history, Pennsylvania College of Technology

3 comments:

Bob Roddis said...

Good thing that the government isn't "revenue constrained" thanks to the funny money system. Good thing there's no reason to worry that the "wrong" people will control the beloved omnipotent government.

Random said...

"Good thing there's no reason to worry that the "wrong" people will control the beloved omnipotent government."

Then vote them out.

John said...

A draft (citizen's army) would put a break on the power of the military and the public's insouciance towards war. Once you have a purely volunteer, professional military, democratic society has been dealt a vicious blow. Money never constrains a government bent on war. The only thing that constrains governments is a dissenting, disbelieving public, especially a rebelious public watching thousands of its children coming back in body bags. The sooner a draft is reinstated the better.