Thursday, April 10, 2008

Is Military Service Passe?

Back when I made my paychecks as a lobbyist about 10 years ago, I came across a statistics then which gave me pause. In the Congress elected in 1998, for the first time a majority of members of Congress had not served in the military. At first I sort of wrote it off as an effect of the baby boomers and post-Vietnam conversion of the American military to an all volunteer force. In short, there were still enough Members of Congress who had served in the military that it didn't really bother me. Fast forward to 2008 and this post, which got me thinking about military service and our politicians, at least on the national level.

Now don't get me wrong, by no means is military service to be considered a pre-requisite for political office. I don't want to create such an argument nor do I want to insinuate that one cannot be a good politician unless you have served in the military. I don't and have never thought that to the case.

Yet, we can't escape the fact that of the current crop of presidential candidates, only John McCain served in the military (although we are told Hillary Clinton tried to volunteer--that is news to me). While in general Republican holds the military in high esteem, the Demcoratic party is of at least two minds. The first mind is the cynical, "we need to win" seats side of the Democratic party. Over the past couple of Congressional election cycles, at least until this year, the Democratic party activly courted former military members to run as Democrats, in the hope of burnishing their credentials on military policy. But this political operation runs counter to what much of the Democratic leadership says and does about the military. Routinely, comments from senior Democrats denigrate or dismiss the military. It is not unusual to hear Democrats claim that the military is a bunch of undereducated thugs no better than the terrorists we are fighting.

So despite the effort to recruit veterans as candidates, a significant segment of Democrats have come to view the military as something negative, something to be abhorred at times. Can we as a nation survive in the modern world when one half of our political spectrum holds the military in such disregard? Can we really expect to continue to field the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen if the political leadership considers the military to an anachronism, a relic of a bygone era?

What about the Constitutional oath sworn by all elected officials to preserve, protect and defend the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic? Is the modern, anti-military Democratic party ready to assume, in the guise of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama the onerous and arduous task of defending the United States? Can they do so with a military that respects them only as a function of their office and not as a leader?

Frankly, I wonder if we really can survive such a regime in the long term.

While military service can instill in an individual discpline, sacrifice, attention to details as a function of the training and atmosphere, one of the biggest lessons a military member learns during their service is realism. They learn to see the world not as they want to but as it really is. That world contains evil people, people who are bent on the destruction of our nation for its simple existence. A military man or woman learns that you cannot reason with such people, you can't appease them short of your own destruction, and you cannot attempt to see the world through their eyes. All attempts to do so are feeble and a waste of time and effort.

Do we as a nation lack the necessary military virtues to be a stable society, a force to be reckoned with? When one considers these thoughts when viewing the anti-military Democratic party, you have to wonder--what have we allowed to happen?

The military remains an important part of our national structure and to have high-ranking, public civilian leaders who despise the military, denigrate our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, simply calls into question the very nature of the society we project. Does the disdain for our military project an image to the world that we are unwilling and perhpas unable to fight for what we believe is right and just in the world?

I think so and that scares me.

Hat Tip: The Instapundit

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