The title above is taken from a must-read from James Fallows with The Atlantic here.
Incredibly important piece from Fallows. He argues in other spaces for a draft to close the widening chasm between the very few that serve in the military and the rest of American society, but I vehemently disagree with that. Not to get into it too much, but quite simply, forcing people to fight and die ain’t the solution to this deep, systemic problem of war-making. Moreover, a whole lot of fucking draftees had to die in Vietnam, for example, as people “woke up” and “got skin in the game.”
Alas, this piece in particular is highly informative and necessary reading. Many serious commentators have long pointed out that we are essentially a “bumper sticker” society when it comes to war. We’ll throw the “Support the Troops!” bumper sticker on our car, but we don’t actually pay attention to what’s going on in Iraq or Afghanistan, what led us to those wars in the first place and the varying problems of post-war life for the soldiers.
Moreover, the military has come to be seen as a cash cow. It’s the epitome of crony capitalism at its worst. Let’s keep giving the army tanks they don’t want. Let’s commission a fleet of planes that are ineffective, even though those in battlefields prefer the (admittedly older) other plane.
War-making has indeed become all too easy and it’s become all too harder to end it. Even just recently in Afghanistan, we merely changed the name and the flag that’s flapping in Afghanistan with some 11,000 troops still there and yet it’s referred to as “war over.” Nope.
It’s any wonder that defense contractors were giddy at the prospect of war with ISIS in reengaging in Iraq and engaging in Syria; it’s more money for them and it allows politicians to maintain “no boots on the ground,” even when there are.
An American military coup as envisioned by the individual mentioned in the piece in the early ’90s seems quite prescient to me. Perhaps unrealistic to a lot of people — nothing like that could ever occur in the U.S. right? — but I could see it.
It just seems like a no-brainer issue that should bring all ideologies together, whether from the standpoint of the excessive spending or the excessive blood spilled, but instead, the perverse reverse has occurred. They (the military) are so insulated from criticism and revered while simultaneously giving those doing the revering (and the lambasting of anyone that would dare criticize) the space to ignore the very real systemic problems in the military structure at present.
Bumper sticker society indeed. In many ways, we have applied a mid-20th century model of warring on to a 21st century military while also trying to apply unnecessary futuristic applications so that military can keep warring.