Friday, August 12, 2005

The best Army America can buy

Last week, the scribe was feeling summer lazy

summertime
and da libbin’
is eeezay
fish is jumpin’
and the cotton
is high...

Okay, so only the first part applies to the scribe’s life off the highway, but the point is some good pieces went by the wayside, especially one picked-up by the “San Diego Union-Tribune” from the “New York Times,” and written by David M. Kennedy.

Some day you’ll realize that, despite having consumed countless films about World War II, you know very little about how that conflict came about and unfolded. That’s when you’ll read Kennedy’s “Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1928-1945.”

His epistle on the state and practical effects of our current war machine, “The best Army America can buy,” will be employed in a manner particular to highwayscribery, whereby some eminent’s scholar’s remarks are interspersed with those of a man whom they probably don’t care much to be associated with.

But we plugged his book so here goes.

“[T]he fact remains that the United States today has a military force that is extraordinarily lethal, even while it is increasingly separated from the civil society on whose behalf it fights. That is worrisome...

“[The Pentagon] buys an arsenal of precision weapons for highly trained troops who can lay down a coercive footprint in the world larger and more intimidating than anything history has known. Our leaders tell us that our armed forces seek only just goals, and at the end of the day will be understood as exerting a benign influence. Yet that perspective may not come so easily to those on the receiving end of our supposedly beneficent violence.”

Regulars know we here at highwayscribery pledge our allegiance to innocents on the receiving end of any violence whatsoever, beneficent or not-so-beneficent since for them it’s probably hard to tell.

“But the modern military’s disjunction from American society is even more disturbing.

“From Aristotle’s Athens to Machiavelli’s Florence to Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia and Robert Gould Shaw’s Boston and beyond, the tradition of the citizen soldier has served the indispensable purposes of sustaining civic engagement, protecting individual liberty and guaranteeing political accountability. That tradition has all but been abandoned.”

We see where Kennedy’s going and it all sounds pretty good unless you’re an 18-year old male preoccupied with 18-year old girls. the scribe’s all for abandoning the citizen-soldier tradition. In the end, that may have been what much of the sixties were about, but that’s an article for another day. But if we’re going to abandon tradition, let’s finish the job and do away with standing armies as well.

That’s where scribery parts from Kennedy, you see, he’s looking for a more democratic army, the scribe’s looking to line the pockets of he and his hip city friends with all the monies from a Pentagon reduced to defending our shores (if that).

But back to Kennedy’s democratic army:

“Thanks to something that policymakers and academic experts grandly call the ‘revolution in military affairs,’ which has wedded the newest electronic information technologies to the destructive purposes of the second-oldest profession, we now have an active-duty military establishment that is, proportionate to population, about 4 percent of the size of the force that won World War II."

Which is to day we are killing more and dying less in these conflicts of our choosing.

“The implications are deeply unsettling: History’s most potent military force can now be put into the field by a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so.”

Kennedy says that’s an “invitation to military adventurism” which the scribe says is another name for what happened in Iraq.

He quotes Jefferson on Napoleon’s handiwork which, “transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm." which the scribe says is a good name for what we have cooking all over the place.

“[I]t cannot be wise for a democracy,” he goes on, “to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability.”

Which is why that lady who lost her boy camped out in Crawford has proven so effective. She put a face on the silent suffering of those who choose war to fill the family coffers. She stepped out of the rigid rules governing the military caste and held up her son’s senseless death as the result, the cruel undeniable result, of a POLICY.

The whole arrangement, Kennedy wrote, “makes some supremely important things too easy...like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy.”

Does that sound at all familiar?

1 comment:

ebbtide said...

But what about that Runaway Bride mowing the lawn? Or, better yet, Tom Cruise?! Hmmm?