History Will Be Written

September 27, 2008

Metanote: The Checkrids went swimmingly. Thanks for the well-wishes by all who sent them. Lately SE has been exceptionally busy with training and consequently posting here has become sporadic. Apologies.

In the coming decades a history will be written explaining:

1) How the Greatest Generation endured the Greatest Generation, fought and won World War II, and then rebuilt society in the US and in Western Europe. The United States was the greatest creditor nation in history at that point, and the sacrifices of that generation were bestowed on the Baby Boomers in the form of material riches available to the middle class on the scale what what was available to kings and emperors centuries before.

2) The Baby Boomers took that rebuilt world, full of riches, and squandered them. The United States became the greatest debtor nation in history. A strange brew of individualistic license combined with identity politics worked to destroy the bonds that were painstakingly welded in the previous generation. The welfare state grew. Materialism replaced religion and erudition. Most of all, a sense of entitlement overcame the Baby Boomers, like a rich kid too eager to get their father’s hard-earned inheritance. This entitlement was paid for by going into debt.

3) The history will be written that the debts of our fathers were bequeathed to Generations X & Y. The Bailout of the Baby Boomers was not paid by the Baby Boomers, but by their children. In this sense, the Baby Boomers sold their children into a form of slavery.

I cannot say how that debt will be paid. I know it will be paid, and it will be paid by my cohort.

I can now only hope that my generation’s standards of living will decline. I wish this so that we may pay off the debts of our fathers and mothers, so we may bequeath this country, the greatest in history, to our children with less debt, and thus more freedom.

Sacrifice is what brings real riches. May my generation sacrifice all we can.

Belated Independence Day Post

July 5, 2008

Apologies for the tardiness of this entry.  Mrs. Eagle and I were enjoying the country to such an extent that my normal daily blogging activities had to be curtailed.  I am nonetheless compelled to write for this occasion.

I love my country.  Right or wrong, it shall always be dear to my heart.  I cherish my rights, and my duties as a citizen.

Recommended Reading:

A video:

(I have displayed this video before, but I think it’s worth reshowing.)

Semper fidelis.

On the Record

July 4, 2007

I am in favor of a mandatory national service for the youth of the nation.

I want a draft.

I am a serving Marine officer. I am in a Corps of elite warriors, drawn from the best and most motivated recruits, trained specially for fighting wars, and bred with an élan of professionalism. My brethren and I take our professional obligations extremely seriously. Some of the single-term Marines (who intend on getting out after a single enlistment) look at professionals like me and my peers as ‘lifers’ or ‘careerists’, bringing to mind a slew of negative connotations. Bottom line, I’ve been called to defend the United States and it’s Constitution, and that is why I freely pledged my life to its defense. I’m a member of several associations dealing with the Profession of Arms. The studying of my craft has never ceased since it began ten years ago, and hopefully it will not end for another 30 years. I study my craft on my free time, in formal schools, during exercises, and in actual combat. I have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have sailed on Navy ships, visiting ports and showing the flag to people of a dozen nations. I will continue to do this so long as I am able.

And yet I want a draft. I want a bunch of individualistic, averagely-educated, smart-talking, dirty, rich, poor, and middle-classed people to join my military because the country has deemed it right to force them to.

In World War I, the draft in America was imposed to ensure equal measures of sacrifice were exacted from the population. It was not aimed at whom you would expect: the upper classes. The draft’s goal was to ensure that not too great a sacrifice was exacted on the opinion-makers, tycoons, sons of the political classes, etc, as these groups tended to enlist at far greater rates than the poorer classes. (source: AWOL, p. 108) Perhaps it was a sense of noblesse oblige that was remaining from Victorian times that caused this. Perhaps there was a sense of duty that was bred into the young people, and a sense of obligation to maintain (and restore, as necessary) the freedom bestowed by the earlier generations.

Indeed, military service was common to the political class of those years. And once power accrued to those members of the political class, their young continued to serve. FDR’s son James served in the Marines–not in a cushy staff job, but as a front line combat Marine in the elite 2d Raider Battalion. Another FDR progeny, Elliott, served with distinction in the Army Air Corps. TR’s son served in World War I. Harry Truman and JFK served, though their children did not. GHW Bush served with distinction, and his son GW Bush did as well (although with an extreme lack of distinction, to put it very mildly). Al Gore served.

Clinton did not serve. Nor did Dick Cheney, who managed to escape service by means of 11 draft deferments.

The vast bulk of our representatives and senators have no service under their belts. Rather, they are attorneys. And that is a serious detriment to our national power. What specifically qualifies a person with political connections and a law degree to authoritatively comment on American national power? Sure, after several terms, the Representative/Senator may garner enough experience to muddle his way about the armed forces, but only after several terms of trial and error.

Furthermore, how many Senators and Representatives were bruised at being called ‘unpatriotic’ in the run up to the Iraq War? Many claim this, and there may be some truth to it. But a large reason they are vulnerable to this charge is that they lack any terms of service as a soldier. Notice that nobody questioned the patriotism of James Webb (Democratic Senator from VA), or the few others with national service.

Widespread service would allow us to escape the paralyzing ‘Support the Troops’ politics. Having served, we would know what real support is. Having children who are currently serving would ensure we are intimately connected to their needs at all times–not just when it is politically advantageous during the election cycles. Furthermore, it could prevent unnecessary foreign wars, as our sons and daughters would be intimately familiar with the front lines and decisions in Washington would have grave or wondrous effects on the battlefield. And for those wars we are engaged in, a draft army would stiffen the resolve, as those who do serve know that war are not ‘Ended,’ as Code Pink would have you believe. Rather, they are ‘Won’ or ‘Lost’, in proportion to the resolution, generalship, technical ability, and moral clout of the nations fighting.

A draft is certainly demanding. It is demanding to the corps of military professionals to deal with, frankly, a mass of amateurs. More so, it is straining on the individual Americans who would be obligated to serve. Yet this is not immoral, unjust, or wrong.

The professional military can cope with masses of citizen soldiers. Not overnight, but given time, we will rediscover the institutions necessary to make good soldiers, sailors, and airmen. We have done so in the past, and other militaries continue to do so today. This problem is not insurmountable.

It would seem immoral, unjust, or wrong only to those who have been so pampered by “safe” existence provided by over-protective nanny-parents, and to those who have escaped the burdens of guarantying freedom by wealth and influence. Is it too much to ask that we, as democratic citizens, require, in equal measure, to pay our debt incurred by the freedom we exercise? Are we content to rely only on the professionals (those who have been called) and the bribed (those who receive astronomical bonuses to stay in) to guaranty defense?

There is the economist argument against the draft, too. Milton Friedman, conservative arch-economist, famously argued against the draft, saying that it is not economically efficient for the individual or the state. There may be some truth to that. Nonetheless, I do not subscribe to economism–that all worth is determined by monetary value. Furthermore, capitalists understand the importance of the liberal order they conduct business in. The institutions of private property rights, political freedom, transparency, due process, and fair regulation are all prerequisites for a successful market capitalism. These prerequisites must be guaranteed, such guaranties are not always economically efficient.

Nor does economic efficiency translate into military effectiveness, except at the grand-strategic level, where political, military, economic, cultural, and other forms of national power are indistinguishable. At this level, a nation more-solidly and resolutely under arms only adds to national power.

Now, surely, I would allow those with demonstrated conscientious objection to decline military service. They would not escape service–there is other work to be done as well.

Nor would I take away the volunteer complexion of the Marines or of other special units like the Special Forces, Rangers, or Submarine duty. Volunteerism also counts, especially in elite and special units.

I would also maintain a professional officer corps and a professional corps of senior enlisted troops, as a single term of duty is insufficient to provide the leadership at high levels that is due to the sons and daughters of America.

National service, especially military service, strengthens our democratic society. It ensures the sacrifices are levied in a democratic manner with equal hardship to all. It ensures a more informed polity, more familiar with the good and bad aspects of American power. It would help us to avoid conflicts not vital to our interests, and would stiffen our resolve in the fights we do engage in.

Most of all, a draft would ensure freedom is maintained by all, for all. Not by the few, for the remaining.

Recommended Reading:

The Emergence of a Seperate American Warrior Caste, by Dymphna (at Gates of Vienna)
On Forgetting the Obvious, by Kaplan
AWOL, by Roth-Douquet and Schaeffer
Citizen Soldiers, Ambrose
One Bullet Away, Fick
Carnage and Culture, Hanson

Military Professionalism and Politics of Wanting It Both Ways

November 4, 2006

I will now address the concept of military professionalism.

Professor Cole writes:

The entire Third Infantry Division, some 20,000 soldiers, seems set to return to Iraq for a third tour in 2007.

The comments in this article by Gen. Rick Lynch alleging that the guerrillas in Iraq are trying to influence the US elections strike me as inappropriate for a serving officer, insofar as they are themselves a form of intervention in the election.

I disagree.

The Officer Corps has two obligations: To the Constitution, and to itself. The former is the external obligation of the Officer Corps, and it’s reason for existence. The latter is internal, and relates to self-maintenance of the ethical/moral aspects of military leadership, educational development, upkeep of professional standards of excellence, etc. This does not prevent officers from engaging in politics as they relate to warfighting. Indeed, Clausewitz recognized that war is an inherently political act. At the upper levels of command, military and political action become more and more intertwined. Furthermore, insurgency/guerrilla warfare, is perhaps the most political of all forms of warfare. To be removed for politics in such a war is to negate your own objective, which, of course, is antithetical to the political nature of warfare itself. Soldiers are political and military beings at once.

Another incongruency is that Professor Cole denies our military’s authority to state the obvious in terms of what the enemy is trying to do within the context of the American political process. Yet he has nothing to say of the insurgent’s authority do engage in American politics.

The left wants it both ways. They want to deny the soldier is a professional when he speaks on political matters, yet were they castigating GEN Shinseki when he was giving professional advice on necessary troop strengths in Iraq? Of course not! Shinseki is being a good soldier. But MG Lynch is engaging in politics in wartime! The horror! There are other examples too numerous to mention. Nonethless, the left believes the generals are military professionals so long as their opinions are in alignment with liberal dictums or are at least against the conservative line of reasoning.