Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Military Matters

Via Atrios - this indictment of the most recent round of Blame The Troops First being played by the Bush Administration is an extremely important point that almost no one is making.

The idea behind the command structure in the army is that the higher pay grades take responsibility for that their units do. That's the basis of our entire system of military organization. What's happening today is the opposite. Conduct that was clearly authorized by top brass in documents that are now in the public domain is being punished by long prison terms.

Personally, our monstrous military does very little to help me sleep at night. I wish the military were a lot smaller, I am among the 10% or so Americans and 90% or so of the world population who has not agreed that it is obvious that America can "no longer wait until we are attacked" before blasting some defenseless country or other to kingdom come, and if the military were about 1,000 times smaller I would not feel in the least bit concerned about it, since I don't worry too much about being killed generally, much less by some unidentified foreign power.

But I know I am in the minority here. Most Americans believe that a strong military is vitally important to our individual safety as Americans. Which is fine; eeryone is welcome to their opinion. But if you really believe that, you should be deeply concerned at what is happening here. The unwillingness of the military command to accept responsibility for its decisions is going to undermine, perhaps irretrievably, the confidence of enlisted personnel in their freedom to enact their superiors' plans without fear of criminal prosecution.

So for all of you out there in blogland who think it's really important to have an effective military, get on the horn to your congresspeople and let em know you aren't happy. This isn't a liberal or conservative issue. It's an issue of National Security.


Traveller said...

Things are never simple. The military aren't just The Military, our guardians. Nope: they provide steady profits to individuals and pension funds which have GE and other commonly-held stocks in their portfolios; they offer the only decent jobs and training at the other bottom end of a nation which we can hardly call a society of equal opportunity; and they have become the substitute scrotum and raison-d'ĂȘtre for legions of politicians over decades and centuries.

So who accepts the blame? Not the people at the top or the politicians, the ones who make the financial deals and continue to acquire power and attract envy.

What I can't figure out (as one who agrees that our military aren't making us safer -- quite the contrary!) is how the hell we get rid of the military-industrial complex, the sexual thrill associated with violence and "winning," and the culture which turns earnest citizen-candidates from California and Maine and Kansas into grubby, immoral, castrated members of Congressional committees. The system is wholly corrupt.

Uncle Carlos said...

A "strong military" and a policy of "blowing away small countries that are no threat" are not one in the same. It is also not necessarily the same as a "monsterous" military.

Folks are concerned, but they find little voice in which to express it. This admin and it's supporters have made it difficult to question, much less opppose, them. And they find it difficult to "support the troops" and also "oppose the administration".

What also might surprise you though is the number of folks who would agree in principal with your about the "boot size" of the military. It is why the reserves and guard are so critical. Since the late '80s the general attempt has been to downsize the military. But we have commitments, which no president feels safe ending, to provide boots in many, many places. Korea alone has a commitment of something like 50,000 troops. Troop level commitments with NATO remain very high. Navy commitments around the world (Japan pays for protection) remain high. SEATO demands troop commitments from us. We've got 150,000 boots in Iraq, many from the reserves, and a 500,000 full time boot military.

Gingrich and Buchanan both would like to see a smaller, home based, military. And at this point there are alot of soldiers and their families that would like to see more soldiers at home than abroad. There is a political opportunity here, but only if it is presented as a "pro defense, pro military" point of view, not the "spit on their boots" kinda attitude for which us pacifists are still paying.

Anonymous said...

I could probably find these with google, by I'm inherhently lazy and I'm sure several people here already know exactly where/what I'm looking for. Could some please link to the documents that Adam refers to in this post?


Adam P. Short said...


Sanches memo obtained by ACLU under FOIA request. It's a big, arcane document, so set aside some time to sort through it.

Adam P. Short said...



The Gonzales torture memo excerpts.

Anonymous said...