Much has already been made of Brooks’ encounter with the Warlord last week and resulting column. Perhaps Karl Rove will enter the Oval Office one day and exclaim “Mr. President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has passed away! It is the miracle of the House of Brandenburg!”
On a more serious note, how should the Nation begin to plan to deal with a post-Iraq military returning to CONUS? The withdrawal will come. Whether called that or not; whether wanted or not. Perhaps concealed by a new Linebacker ala 2008 — airpower with inevitable ‘collateral damage’.
The Stiftung argues that our military has failed the Nation as much as the Warlord in many respects. Not just in the ways Bacevich or Lind write about. Whether the military ignores counterinsurgency 101 or 4th Generation warfare is something only 1 in 200 Americans grok. The military failed on two more overarching principles: (a) an overweaning fetishization of the “Commander in Chief” (note none of them took a personal oath); (b) an inexcusable indulgence in gamesmanship and politics among senior leadership — even the non-lackeys besides Meyers and Pace. All of which suggests the contemporary American military is not well structured, trained and incentivized to serve and protect a liberal democratic republic.
A person the Stiftung would like to talk to about this but hasn’t seen in a long while is Charlie Moskos, the renowned sociologist of the military. Charlie is a foremost authority on military organizations as socialogical organisms. We know that the current military demographically is isolated from ‘mainstream American society’ in many important ways. Only one is the vastly higher ratio of Evangelical, Pentacostal and other non-mainstream religious sects in the officer corps. There are many more. Culturally, and this is where Charlie was THE expert, the military remains separate and apart even from now-current Republican mores.
How will this closed off organization handle and digest defeat? As well as its stunning abuse at the hands of its CinC? (Note that the military and the intelligence communities, two legs of State Power in any basic political science analysis of any governming appartus have been grossly misused, bludgeoned, exhausted and radicalized by the regime. This is, as the Stiftung has long observed, “no accident”).
Charlie Rangle’s call for a draft is a stunt to make the point shared by many. A professional army (augmented by even more corporate mercenary ancillary troops and support infrastructure) is easier to use and abuse. But a draft is also an important tool to leaven the military with the reality of America 2008-onwards. And we are coming to the belief that if the American military is ever to absorb the reality of losing and gaining the best from this calamitous experience, a hermetic, isolated culture is unlikely to allow it.
We know the usual excuses — cost, time needed to train for technical weapons platforms, etc. We are not persuaded on the cost item given Operation Iraqi Excellent Adventure – both in actual outlays and the damage done to the overdeployed human element. Dear Reader, did you know that if troops re-enlist in-theater, it apparently is tax free ? And re-enlistment bonuses can range as high as $50,000. Too bad Webb did not smack Graham across his cherubic visage with that one on Press the Meat. Moreover, as we and others have pointed out, the over-reliance on the ACRONYM laden, technical, precision weapons platforms are precisely what failed both Israel and the U.S. in all three wars (Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan).
Congress has devolved into a parody Duma. The White House its own parody – pick your favorite analogy. A liberal democracy should not be exposed thusly to a tightly organized, culturally aloof-if-not-disdainful, military fresh from defeat and facing budget cuts and perhaps future deployments. Even now, the rarity of service makes it almost mandatory to do obeisance before one who has. Regardless how one feels about the Warlord’s disasterous policies, this is not healthy for a democracy. Whether Dubya general shops, hides behind them or Petreus calls it as he sees it, the totemistic deployment of veterans and the outsourcing of decision-making to the military under these circumstances forecasts more disconcerting events on the horizon.
If Congress, the Judiciary and the Executive had not been so debased by the Warlord and Movement’s radicalism we might feel less concern. So here’s to a draft. Not just to “share the burden”. But also to ensure that our military shares liberal democratic culture and values.