Is the US military not big enough? In my local newspaper today there was an article called “Warrior Class: An all-volunteer armed forces may desensitize U.S. to war, some fear.” In it, the following things were mentioned:
- Staff Sgt. Jerry Majetich was torn apart by a Baghdad roadside bomb and put together through 62 operations. His five older brothers had also enlisted, his mother was an Army nurse in Korea, his son is considering leaving college to join the military, and his daughter is part of the ROTC in her high school. The author of the article, Matthew Schofield, uses this as the archetypal example of the military family: 57% “of active troops today are the children of current or former active or reserve members” of the military.
- Such inter-generational enlistment is “causing some to worry that the United States is developing a warrior class.” Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, says this is of concern, since there are fewer young adults who are exposed to military service. The stated feared risks “range from a reluctance to fully support those who serve to an almost cavalier willingness to wage war.
- One of the empire’s criminals, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, desires the return of the draft, claiming that military service makes better citizens.
- The only positive thing cited regarding the smaller recruiting pool is that “the children of service members enlist understanding the job. They often were raised around the military and aren’t shocked by the culture, the level of expectations or long deployments.
While reading this I had the image of a character in a Looney Tunes cartoon, waiting for a large anvil to fall on them with the word “IRONY” written on the side. The military is worried about people being desensitized to war? But when looked at more closely, the military brass isn’t necessarily concerned about Americans not realizing that war implies mass suffering, death, and destruction (isn’t that what is usually meant by “desensitized to war”?). Rather, they are worried about Americans losing their sympathy for military members and consequently their support of the military as a whole. Realistically, the military RELIES upon a desensitization to the costs and realities of war to keep the machine going. I guarantee that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would have ended long ago if the US taxpayer were forced to pay for them upfront rather than later through borrowing and inflation. Guaranteed.
Staff Sgt. Majetich is also quoted as saying, “Do people understand the sacrifices? Do they understand the toll combat, long deployments, not to mention injuries and death, take on a person, a family? Do they understand that my 17-year-old daughter has more memories of me in recovery than before the injury? No, they don’t. Not at all.” He’s probably right about that. But it seems absurd that the proposed solution in this article is to increase the number of people who have to endure such hardships, instead of minimizing the number of people who do by not sending them to war unless absolutely necessary. I’m certain that Majetich would rather not have been blown up than have several other people blown up as well just so that they have the benefit of being able to empathize with him.
However, it is interesting that he says, “Despite everything, I believe in military service.” Back in 2007, I remember hearing disabled Marine veterans of the Iraq War on the radio saying that they would go back if they could. At the time I thought that wanting to go back MUST mean that they believe in the mission and that it MUST be worth it. But since then I realized there was another possibility: no one wants to lose their legs for a lie. Indeed, it is infinitely more comforting to believe that one’s “sacrifices” were for the greater good rather than for no good at all. It seemed that combat veterans were more likely to be emotionally invested into wanting to believe that the cause of the US military was just than to be objective observers of whatever they had witnessed in war zones (though there is much more to consider than this, as evidenced by the support of Ron Paul by active-duty military).
Senator James Inhofe, “one of the few politicians around who still yearn for a draft,” was in the US Army from 1957-1958, according to his Wikipedia page. The US was not at war at this time. Wikipedia also says
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, he was among the panelists questioning witnesses about the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, stating he was “outraged by the outrage” over the revelations of abuse. Although he believed that the individuals responsible for mistreating prisoners should be punished, he stated that the prisoners “are not there for traffic violations . . . they’re murderers, they’re terrorists, they’re insurgents“. In 2006, Inhofe was one of only nine senators to vote against the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 which prohibits “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment of individuals in U.S. Government custody.
It would seem only right that he disregards the dignity of human beings. Implicit in the belief that the government has the right to draft people is that the government owns you and therefore has the right to send you to die in some foreign land.
Lastly, the Department of Defense’s concern over fewer people enlisting in the military has nothing to do with the actual defense of Americans. Indeed, nothing of the sort was even mentioned in the article. The concern is over the “loss of political clout”. Without it, they might lose their support as being the center of the altar of the civic religion and essentially their status of being beyond criticism. We can only hope that such a thing happens soon.