The U.S. Army doesn’t believe it can rely on its troops to maintain good order and discipline with Sarah Palin around. Or her ability to modulate herself. So why have her on base at all? Just another small but notable development given the rapid growth of seditious ‘oath keepers’ and other anti-liberal democratic groups.
The Movement long ago figured out that FDR’s liberalism reigned for 34 years because liberal personnel staffed government, especially the ‘power institutions’. In traditional political science terms the latter are usually internal security, law (DoJ) and the military. Today, FDR’s paradigm is on its head. The Warlord stuffed them with recruits during his most toxic years. Obama’s enemies now unsurprisingly are targeting power institutions first to de-legitimize Obama personally and secondly to activate their self-righteous impulses to act out.
One can debate how much immediate danger these brazenly treasonous activities may pose to the Republic. We do think it’s no longer debatable that Shy Meyer’s post-Vietnam tripwire all volunteer force (“AVF”) can be called a definitive failure. He designed the AVF in the 1970s to prevent the U.S. Army becoming a tool of imperial aggression divorced from domestic political commitment. In his world of mass armies with secondary and tertiary echelons he made sure a 500,000 commitment like Vietnam would be impossible because the AVF would be too small. A president would be forced to call out the national guard Meyer assumed. Something Johnson and Nixon never did. Both refused to burden the voters that way. Plus, Meyer knew ending the draft would save the military from civilian contempt.
Today’s quasi-mercenary AVF is untethered from all of Meyer’s anchors. In fact, rather than a safeguard protecting the Nation, Meyer’s AVF poses potential problems far beyond Westmoreland’s era. More than ever today’s military culture inherently is distinct from our civilian world (although what we know today as corporate hierarchies and chains of command were copied from the Union Army during the first industrial surge post Civil War). The AVF culture is self selecting – the evangelical problem at Colorado Springs just one indicia. Meyer couldn’t have foreseen how technology would be a force multiplier allowing a small, isolated, self-selected AVF force to maintain itself deployed while Americans shop and watch TV. Meyer devoted himself to prevent America from living out every day 2001-2009.
And resentment builds. These over-stressed troops see their reality in theater and broken families as merely fodder for stunt media reporting. Add a Nation which openly tolerates actual mercenaries to operate with more pay and less rules like Prince, Dyncorp, etc. Cynicism naturally builds. And then the top brass dip in. The underlying moral corruption becomes pervasive. It’s not a new thing – the Stiftung used to see it every week going back decades. But the trend line spiked sharply up.
Shy Meyer’s gift to the Republic? A dysfunctional civil-military relationship that breeds recruits for the oathiness crowd. Recruits committed to kinetic solutions and already largely strangers to civilian liberal democratic society and pluralism. We don’t know what percentage are *potential* McVeighs. But to shove Cheney-ism back at him, it’s gonna be above 1 %.
Meanwhile, local and state law enforcement likewise have been radicalized the last 8 years. Obama shows no sign of breaking the cycle. ‘Fusion centers’ where your local sheriff or police chief might have the almost pornographic thrill of rubbing elbows with FBI, Homeland Security, even the now considerably less cool CIA, etc. And how empowering for a local or state official to receive information stamped “Sensitive But Unclassified”. Why, they’re almost one of the team! National security is the ultimate get out of boring routine regulation free card. When the Warlord’s crew proposed creating that new tag we at first would sit in meeting and strain not to roll our eyes. But the goal was to radicalize and it worked. We can’t remember how many hours of our life we will never get back listening to pleas from dairy processing plants in Strawberry Point or truck refitting depots in Texarkana that they needed millions in federal aid to stop imminent Al Qaeda attack. Now, recruitment pools for anti-liberal democratic forces under the banner of oaths, the constitution, etc.
Shy Meyer failed. The AVF as a concept failed. America let them both down. The military must be reconnected with the polis. It’s time for Americans to cowboy up. Whether by draft, by changed incentive mechanisms or other means. The military burden must be shared and that experience flow both ways. Our liberal democracy will be revitalized with a broader life experience of the military’s perspective of team work, discipline and learning to tolerate diverse backgrounds re-entering our culture. The military will become a democratic force with fresh infusions of civilian tolerance of non-radicalized ideologies. Ending ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is getting it backwards. We all win by taking steps to ensure the military looks alot more like America.
The odds of any of this happening are about as good as Obama doing more than Goldilocks on Afghanistan. We know. Same with the Movement walking away from shot after shot of impulsive, nihilistic fantasies. We share some readers’ skepticism that a rebuilt Republican Party (or other means) committed to pluralistic participatory politics can put the leash back on. An interesting conundrum? Which problem is the more urgent for liberal democracy – an expanding radicalized Movement here at home or the bloated Permanent National Security State? We’ll concede it’s a false binary. There’s a third and possibly more likely outcome. Americans may not care.
* We blew the mass spell check. Mea culpa General Meyer.