Wednesday, July 27, 2005

More Warrior Than Thou

Democrats ought to insist on a major expansion of the military, by as many as 100,000 troops. Some of these troops should be channeled into the post-conflict and nation-building specialties that we have been chronically short of in Iraq: linguists, special forces, psychological operations, civil affairs, and economic reconstruction. Rather than add to Bush's budget deficits, however, Democrats should insist on paying for a larger force by rolling back the administration's unconscionable wartime tax cuts. This would neatly frame the real choice facing patriotic Americans: a stronger military versus tax cuts for the privileged.

Will Marshall, Democratic Leadership Council

Where to start?

The military isn't meeting its present recruitment goals as it is, nor is it adequately funding or supplying those already elisted and serving overseas. In what universe would 100,000 more join up? Does Marshall think Drew Rosenhaus will show up to negotiate multi-million dollar signing bonuses?

If they did sign up, what would they do and where would they go? Iraq? Do we know 100,000 more U.S. troops in Iraq would help? Or would it only contribute to the resistance to the U.S. occupation? Is the cause of the chaos in Iraq insufficient American troop numbers or the troops very presence itself?

Or does Marshall think they should be used to invade Iran? Or Syria? Or some other country on the Project for a New American Century's hitlist?

This is just a stupid, poorly thought out, politically motivated policy recommendation.

But the DLC thinks we should do more than draft 100,000 more troops.

They think progressives should be nicer to ROTC groups on college campuses.

Americans are justly proud of their Armed Forces. Along with the flag and the English language, the U.S. military is an honored emblem of national identity and unity. This is especially true in the heartland battleground states, where Democrats must do better if they hope to recapture the White House and Congress. Unfortunately, the Armed Forces have long been estranged from Democrats in general and liberal elites in particular. So another key task for progressive patriotism is to close the cultural gap between Democrats and the military.


Conversely, the military is not always held in high esteem in what might be called the European wing of the Democratic party -- secular liberal elites in the deep-blue Northeast and West Coast.


How can Democrats start healing this breach? For starters, they can speak out against colleges that ban military recruiters or the Reserved Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) from their campuses. Thirty years after the Vietnam War ended, such Ivy League campuses as Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth continue to ban ROTC. The message this sends is an offensive amalgam of class bias and anti-military prejudice: Service in the Armed Forces might be OK for dumb-ass Southerners or small-town kids with limited prospects, but it's not a smart career move for our best and brightest. Democrats should demand an end to this disgraceful legacy of the Vietnam protest era, by denying public funding to schools that deny the Armed Forces access to their campuses (see sidebar).

If you didn't already know these comments came from an allegedly Democratic website, where would you think they had originated? Did you guess Republican Party? If so, your thoughts were similar to mine.

Anyway, so the DLC wants us to make our already over-militarized society even more so.

But would such policy changes be used to better secure our country or would it be turned to more international misadventures, or worse, turned against its citizens at home?

Freedom is free, and the military not only is one of the elements threatening our freedom in the US, but was never intended to protect our freedom in the first place.


There is no provision in the Constitution for a permanent, standing army – to the contrary, the framers considered a standing army a constant threat to liberty.

Why? First, a standing army requires support via taxation. As we have seen recently; as Eisenhower warned when leaving office; and as General Smedley Butler revealed a generation before Eisenhower: If you start with a standing military, replete with high-ranking officers anxious to further their careers; add a presidential administration and a few hundred Congressmen eager for bloc support, campaign contributions, and cushy jobs after leaving office; then add a few dozen large corporations armed with lobbyists and poised to make huge profits from war; you get wars.

Note that children of Congressmen, military officers, and corporate executives rarely are killed in these wars. This is the worst transfer of wealth imaginable – the lives of the poor and young are snuffed out to line the pockets of the rich and conscienceless. Each time there is a war, elected officials raise your taxes, and most of the additional money confiscated from you goes to the corporations who provide the planes, bombs, and tanks that kill innocents abroad and destroy their property and infrastructures. The latter, of course, are rebuilt later with more of your tax money.


At the time of our founding, the role of the military (such as there was) was to defend our borders. Since then, the military has been used primarily as an enforcement arm of the foreign policy goals of the White House and Congress.

The biggest threat to our freedom isn’t foreign invasion anyway. The biggest threat is Washington itself – the presidential administration, Congress, and the Supreme Court. We have lost privacy and civil liberties precipitously since 9/11, and our military can do nothing to stop that. The military forces never were intended to protect us from our own government, nor have they ever been in any nation.

Brad Edmonds,

While the DLC claims to want Democrats to scream louder and support the War on Terror more vehemently than the Republicans, it should be obvious that war and its instruments are both a limited means of achieving peace and security, particularly against a non-state enemy, as well as a potential threat to the sponsoring nation's liberty as well. That war also serves to mobilize nationalistic tendencies such as the kinds that drove the most barberous regimes of the 20th century should also not be easily swept under the carpet as inconsequential.

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