Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Paging Ike -- call your office

Eisenhower's 'Military-Industrial' complex explained:

The issue here, as with other forms of government service, is the creation of a category of people who lose any common frame of reference with the rest of the citizenry. The longer one resides in or amongst D.C., whether in an elected or employed capacity, the more your reality diverges from those outside the beltway. This is the root of the problem that perennial proposals such as term limits are really trying to address.

What's needed in the military is a return to the citizen-soldier concept, where the standing force is merely a small cadre of professionals planning the defense of the United States, instead of administering a global empire through Washington's many Legions. Time to look at how we postured our forces before 1861 and 1951.

 On the 'suit' side of the house, there needs to be an expectation that one does not make a lifetime career of, ahem, so-called 'public service.' Nobody is that indispensable (though it seems quite a few are that charismatic). Having to return to the private sector, can counterbalance the "good idea fairies" that visit officialdom. Otherwise, we will continue to have a ruling class, in and out of uniform, that hasn't a clue what life in everyday America is like.


Anonymous said...

“ A return to the citizen-soldier concept” is impossible without a return to conscription.

Jemison Thorsby said...

I disagree. There was no conscription in the Revolution, War of 1812 nor the Mexican War. Only when the War of Northern Aggression dragged on longer than anyone expected did both sides begin employing conscription as public support (and volunteerism) waned. What this implies is that in a defensive war with public support, conscription is not critical. Only when a state chooses to wage offensive wars of choice, or conversely mismanages a previously justifiable war, does government have to use conscription.

I'll say it again: conscription is the state's ultimate statement that IT owns your life, not you. That is anathema to freedom.

KSH said...

I agree with your points Jemison. But I also think this Republic we live in would benefit from conscription. At the least, it would make our international escapades more personal for American families which might make them a bit more responsive to prolonged international commitments. As it is, our professional forces carry the weight of activities in more than 80 countries and few know enough to care.

Jemison Thorsby said...


I do understand your point. What I'm looking to do is make the international escapades less feasible to begin with by reducing the size of the standing force. The Framers spoke often of the dangers of a standing military. While we have not (thankfully) been subjected to coup or military rule, the existence of a large standing force has become a gravitational force warping our society towards militarism and misplaced priorities. A Republic should have a force only large enough to deter and defend against the initial stages of another's aggressive action. If under protracted, existential assault, it should not be hard to raise the "levee en masse," as the citizens will flock to the defense of their homes. Conscription, combined with a large standing force, simply provides too much temptation to those in power. Recall SecState Allbright's comment in the 1990s: "what's the point of having this military if you're not going to use it?" That's the kind of thinking I wish to reduce/eliminate. I greatly prefer what a former service chief of staff said in the '60s: "if our ... forces are never used, they've achieved their finest objective."

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