Let’s fisk this thing properly ok?

THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.

I would like to see the professor point to a time in this nation’s history when it had an army that didn’t serve for pay and benefits. The Continental Army mutinied in 1780 because it wasn’t being paid, and George Washington had the ringleaders shot. That’s right, shot.

Neither the idealism nor the patriotism of those who serve is in question here. The profession of arms is a noble calling, and there is no shame in wage labor. But the fact remains that the United States today has a military force that is extraordinarily lean and lethal, even while it is increasingly separated from the civil society on whose behalf it fights. This is worrisome - for reasons that go well beyond unmet recruiting targets.

If it’s a noble calling, why isn’t the professor wearing (or ever worn) a uniform? NOTE: I actually don’t know that the professor didn’t serve. However, its not mentioned at all on his bio at Stanford, and frankly, I’d expect that if he did serve, it would have been pointed out. Pointedly.

And that’s a nice little slap at the ‘working’ class there. Especially since everybody with a job toils for a wage. Salaried or hourly, it’s a wage. Maybe the professor thinks that soldiers are paid by the hour?

And were the professor to look around his institution of higher learning, the other professors he sees around him are likely a very large part of the reason that the professor feels so disconnected from the military. Of course he (and they) could have volunteered.

One troubling aspect is obvious. By some reckonings, the Pentagon's budget is greater than the military expenditures of all other nations combined.

And this is a bad thing because…?

It buys an arsenal of precision weapons for highly trained troops who can lay down a coercive footprint in the world larger and more intimidating than anything history has known. Our leaders tell us that our armed forces seek only just goals, and at the end of the day will be understood as exerting a benign influence. Yet that perspective may not come so easily to those on the receiving end of that supposedly beneficent violence.

I suppose the same could be said of the Redcoats at Saratoga and Yorktown, the Redcoats (again) at New Orleans, the Mexicans at Chapaltepec,( I won’t even bring up the unpleasantness of 1861-65) The Spanish at San Juan Hill, the Germans at Belleau Wood, the Germans (again) at Normandy, the Japanese at Guadacanal or Okinawa or Hiroshima, the Chinese at Chipyon-yi,or the Vietnamese at Hamburger Hill, just to name a few. What’s the point here? People on the receiving end of organized violence don’t like it.

But the modern military's disjunction from American society is even more disturbing. Since the time of the ancient Greeks through the American Revolutionary War and well into the 20th century, the obligation to bear arms and the privileges of citizenship have been intimately linked.

That is a gross misreading of 2500 years of Western history. While citizenship has in some places at some times, been linked to military service to the state, the norm through history has been either professional soldiers who do nothing else, or a ‘warrior’ class within a society that furnishes military service.

It was for the sake of that link between service and a full place in society that the founders were so invested in militias and so worried about standing armies, which Samuel Adams warned were "always dangerous to the liberties of the people."

Another gross misreading of American history now. The twaddle about the militia lasted all of about ten minutes once that said militia had to fight real soldiers. As Grim pointed out, Washington himself noted the difference, and spent most of his time putting a real standing army together. And ultimately, the idea of an armed citizenry was to simply guard against its own government.

Many African-Americans understood that link in the Civil War, and again in World Wars I and II, when they clamored for combat roles, which they saw as stepping stones to equal rights. From Aristotle's Athens to Machiavelli's Florence to Thomas Jefferson's Virginia and Robert Gould Shaw's Boston and beyond, the tradition of the citizen-soldier has served the indispensable purposes of sustaining civic engagement, protecting individual liberty - and guaranteeing political accountability.

Or leading to demagogic disasters, such as Alcibiadies expedition to Sicily, or, wait for it, VIETNAM.

Oh, and Maciavelli’s attempts to actually drill Florentine Militia, who pretty much laughed at him, failed spectacularly.

That tradition has now been all but abandoned.

And who’s idea was that?

A comparison with a prior generation's war illuminates the point. In World War II, the United States put some 16 million men and women into uniform. What's more, it mobilized the economic, social and psychological resources of the society down to the last factory, rail car, classroom and victory garden. World War II was a "total war." Waging it compelled the participation of all citizens and an enormous commitment of society's energies.

While there are those who will argue that the Administration is not doing enough, this “War on Terror” Cannot be measured against the scale of World War II. The professor is comparing apples and oranges. The comparison fails.

But thanks to something that policymakers and academic experts grandly call the "revolution in military affairs," which has wedded the newest electronic and information technologies to the destructive purposes of the second-oldest profession, we now have an active-duty military establishment that is, proportionate to population, about 4 percent of the size of the force that won World War II. And today's military budget is about 4 percent of gross domestic product, as opposed to nearly 40 percent during World War II.

The implications are deeply unsettling: history's most potent military force can now be put into the field by a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so. We can now wage war while putting at risk very few of our sons and daughters, none of whom is obliged to serve. Modern warfare lays no significant burdens on the larger body of citizens in whose name war is being waged.

And this is a bad thing? Being able to project power when necessary without inflicting significant burden on the country?

This is not a healthy situation. It is, among other things, a standing invitation to the kind of military adventurism that the founders correctly feared was the greatest danger of standing armies - a danger made manifest in their day by the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Jefferson described as having "transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm."

Well, that’s another wonderful misreading of the history of the Napoleonic Wars. Not only was the French Army an Army of Conscripts, Napoleon had no brake on his ambitions other than failure. Its wasn’t like Napoleon was going to stand for being elected Emperor more than once, was it? And Jefferson’s comment about France is, well, just wrong. It was wrong then, and is still wrong 200 years later. The French Republic (before it was an Empire) had no compunction about invading its neighbors, no compunction about slaughtering those who didn’t want to be conscripted, and no compunction about using its citizens any way it saw fit.

Some will find it offensive to call today's armed forces a "mercenary army," but our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago –

Its not that it is offensive, really, its that the professor is demonstrating that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, which is sad, given the fact he seems to have spent his life as a historian. And No, today’s Military is not he military of WWII. I’ll assert that they are actually better troops. Better paid, better trained, better motivated, self selected—in short, the best that one could ask of a Citizen soldier.

drawn from all ranks of society without respect to background or privilege or education, and mobilized on such a scale that civilian society's deep and durable consent to the resort to arms was absolutely necessary.

The professor knows that consent wasn’t absolutely necessary. Anyone who has studied the mobilization of American society in both WWI and WWII, should understand the coercive nature of that mobilization. How exactly did dissent get dealt with during WWI and WWII?

Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy.

This is argument fails and fails miserably. Like having a conscript Army in anyway affected the decisions to get involved in Korea or, wait for it, VIETNAM. I repeat, VIETNAM.

The life of a robust democratic society should be strenuous; it should make demands on its citizens when they are asked to engage with issues of life and death.

Why? Whatever for?

The "revolution in military affairs" has made obsolete the kind of huge army that fought World War II, but a universal duty to service - perhaps in the form of a lottery, or of compulsory national service with military duty as one option among several - would at least ensure that the civilian and military sectors do not become dangerously separate spheres.

The argument is false. The USA had a conscript Army, with fully accountable elected officials, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and that did not prevent military intervention in either Korea or, wait for it, VIETNAM.

A universal duty to service is already there. It exists whether or not there is a draft law. To fufill that duty, all it takes is to walk into a recruiting station and say, “I wish to join.” The professor could have done that at anytime in his life. He appears to have chosen not to. In short, the professor himself is at the heart of the professor’s argument that there is a disconnect between the citizenry and the military. Enough of the professor’s generation decided that a draft was unnecessary and made its feelings known quite loudly that the draft was abolished. And now the professors is complaining because there isn’t a draft?

I’d really like to know what the professor’s opinion on the draft was when he was a peace fellow at the Hoover Institute. Or when he was getting his B.A., M.A. and P.H.D. It appears that managed to have avoid service in the 1960’s, even with a draft. Why was that?

War is too important to be left either to the generals or the politicians. It must be the people's business.

I’m beginning to think that history is too important a subject to be left up to the historians.

But still the professor has also not made the case for a draft, given the manpower requirements of the military. Or really the Army, since its only the Army that isn’t meeting its recruiting goals, and if the Pentagon wasn’t trying to expand the size of the Army, (like the way the Navy, Marines and Air Force are not expanding), then there wouldn’t be any recruiting shortfall to talk about.

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