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Tilting at Windmills

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February 19, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

SURVEYING THE MILITARY....Foreign Policy features a survey this month of "3,400 officers holding the rank of major or lieutenant commander and above from across the services, active duty and retired, general officers and field-grade officers." It's hard to be encouraged by the findings, though. Here's a small sample.

On torture: 53% say it's never acceptable. It's nice that this view got at least majority support, but the 44% who disagreed is a discouragingly high number.

On Iraq: 56% say the war hasn't broken the military. That's another very thin majority. Not only do 42% think the war has broken the military, but an overwhelming 88% think it has "stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin."

And then we have the results on the right. Given various ways to increase enlistment, only 22% of the senior officer corps was receptive to the idea of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Compare that to the 38% who supported reinstating the draft (!) and the 58% who thought it was OK to lower educational standards. You'd think these guys could have made just a wee bit more progress than this over the past couple of decades.

Kevin Drum 3:24 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Counterpoint: allowing gays and lesbians to serve has many points to recommend it, but depending on the wording of the question, increasing recruitment may not be among them. You could be all for gays and lesbians in the military and think it wouldn't help recruitment because 1) it's a marginal population, and 2) it may simultaneously depress recruitment elsewhere.

I'd just be leery to jumping to the conclusion that the officers are bigoted on the basis of this response.

Posted by: Jeff on February 19, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Also, keep in mind that the survey included upper parts of the office corps -- traditionally the most conservative part of the services -- AND it included retirees.

They'd get much different numbers if it included only active-duty members, all officer ranks, or (especially) enlisted as well.

Posted by: bleh on February 19, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Where's "offer college scholarships"? The RAND study shows that education opportunities are far and away the best polling of the bunch.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot on February 19, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I agree... the results would be completely different if they had included NCO's and Jr Officers.

Ivory towers... ivory towers.

Posted by: enlisted on February 19, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Was going to post, but bleh nailed it.

Posted by: Tom on February 19, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

And then we have the results on the right. Given various ways to increase enlistment, only 22% of the senior officer corps was receptive to the idea of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.

At least that's a start. Think of how many white southerners must have supported integrating their elementary schools in the '60s. I've studied the civil rights movement a little, and I doubt it was over 30-something percent.

Posted by: Swan on February 19, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

The military would have to get very broken before you got a majority of active-duty service members to admit to it, and such a level of morale in the armed services would truly be alarming.

The "stretched dangerously thin" result tells you all you really need to know, as long as you know how to read these tea leaves, considering the psychologies involved.

Posted by: Jimm on February 19, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I found the the trading of service for citizenship to be interesting, since I thought that was already being done...anyone know is that isn't true right now?
However, I'm quite surprised on how many favored lowering of education standards...that seems counterproductive to a military that is increasingly gearing itself with complex weapon systems that require...you know...a basic level of education and an openness to learning new things...all of which a low educated recruit would either be foolishly incompetent, or incompetently foolish in their ability to use said high tech equipment.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on February 19, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

What if we started a Gay Corps that was just for homosexuals as an intermediary measure. . .

Posted by: Swan on February 19, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Trade service for citizenship" The commercials would be cheap -- just recycle some of those from VerHoeven's "Starship Troopers"!

Posted by: Ray Waldren on February 19, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

More interesting was that only 56% think that the war hasn't "broken" the military. That's a very slim majority given the the conservative bent of the sample, the fact that it includes retirees, and the overall "never-say-die" public attitude typical of military personnel.

Posted by: rk on February 19, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

I am disappointed that by including actively serving war criminials we are allowing the people who are besmirching the US flag to offer rationalizations for thier crimes.
After Tianamon Square I am sure that some majority of the Chinese actively serving military approved of the butchery there.
Same on a survey of Serbian military on the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Hertzovenia.
I speculate that the Indonesian military approved of their actions in East Timor since any one else "just didn't understand".
And don't forget the Rwandan military saw the genocide there as being perfectly reasonable.
So why should the US butchers be any different. The massacre in Haditha was an "accident" the torture at Abu Ghabrid were just fraternity pranks, he taking of hastoges is just a necessary tactic.
Why give legitimacy to these criminials?

Posted by: Ken on February 19, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

"rank of major or lieutenant commander"
and
"above general officers and field-grade officers"
is redundant.

"Anyone of rank O-4 and above" would be OK for most readers of FP. Almost seems like the author didn't know what they were talking about...

Posted by: RobertSeattle on February 19, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Why does this surprise you? The military mindset is a closed inflexible sub-set by its very nature and "progress" - such as you call it - is not something easily gained, or even desirable from that perspective. Change is not just hard work for such an organization, it is something to be viewed with suspicion, skepticism and considered dangerous until proven otherwise because it requires adjustment to what is considered a tried and true viable formula.
Even something as basic (yet critical) as the communication system on the NASA shuttle has been left almost entirely untouched because the original design has been "battle-tested" and proven reliable under a wide spectrum of operating conditions. That's the same style of mindset. Been there, done that.

Posted by: mikey on February 19, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

As soon a a Democrat is President the military will "become broken" - you can bet that will be the meme Jan 21, 2009.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on February 19, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

What if we started a Gay Corps that was just for homosexuals as an intermediary measure. . .

What if you stopped being the dumbest poster here, sir?

Believe me, that idea has been tried, and soundly rejected for one simple reason: buying in bulk. From a purchasing and inventorying point of view, stocking the "special" PX with beefcake and home-decor magazines is much more expensive than setting up all the troops with Juggs and Car & Driver.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 19, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

In some cases in past world history, such as the ancient Gauls, situational homosexuality was actually promoted, on the belief that you'd have your back covered better if, well, you had your back covered in the first place.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 19, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Norman: Now that you're back from your (involuntary, I assume) confinement in your home state's nearest mental hospital, neither Swan nor anybody else need fear seizing the title of "Washington Monthly's dumbest poster" from your cold, dead hands.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 19, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Explain to me again why it is we are supposed to "support the troops".

Posted by: Maynard Handley on February 19, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Part of what should be considered here is all the officers who haven't re-upped. The Army has been expereincing a drain of their best and brightest for a few years now. Of course most of those leaving are below grade O-4 but the ones going would have become the next generation. So the Iraq War is damaging to the military on a numer of levels.

Posted by: cyntax on February 19, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Explain to me again why it is we are supposed to "support the troops".
Posted by: Maynard Handley

Well, if you're a pacifist who believes the U.S. can function in the world without a military, then you really have no reason to support the troops at all. Of course if that were your point of view, then that would make your question entirely rhetorical and thus a bit pointless.

So assuming you don't take the position that we don't need a military, then the troops have volunteered to put themselves in harm's way for the benefit of the greater of good. Since you are a part of that greater good, their sacrifice might engender some gratitude.

Obviously, this isn't to say that everytime the military is used, it really is for the greater good, but as citizens its our responsibility to ensure the people we elect use resources like the military responsibly.

Posted by: cyntax on February 19, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Sheerakhan, it might mean you don't get to be a citizen at all unless you serve.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 19, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that the best way to increase the size of the military, IF that is what you want to do, is to increase the pay.

It might make sense to lower educational standards because then you could pay people less who could now join the military because of the change.

It might make sense to trade citizenship because then you could pay people less becaues of the people who value US citizenship would accept less pay.

It might make sense to increase the maximum age because you could offer less pay to everyone else since some of them could be replaced by an older person.

It might make sense to institute the draft because then you could force people to accept less pay.

I can't figure out why we won't let gays serve openly. (why is the term 'gay' now considered a gender specific term? Aren't my sister and her partner 'gay'? They were married in Boston last year.)

It might make sense to allow more criminals into the military because you could pay them less.

As you can see, virtually all of these tradeoffs are allowing the military to increase their numbers without increasing pay.

Posted by: neil wilson on February 19, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who would prefer that we hire people who are less competent than the current standard while we refuse to allow certain competent people to enlist is a poor officer, no matter how much of a success he has made for himself. Clearly, people with that attitude did not spend many days in battle.

Posted by: freelunch on February 19, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Depends on whether you want to defend the nation, defend Israel from terrorism, force our culture on other nations at gunpoint, send do-gooder forces to Africa, etc.

Our stockpile of 10,000 nukes should be enough to defend our nation from ordinary military onslaughts. Isn't it a little ridiculous to maintain bases in places like Europe and Korea?

Posted by: Luther on February 19, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

what Jeff said.

changing don't ask/don't tell would have a minimal impact on recruitment. it's a numbers point.

poorly worded question.

Posted by: Nathan on February 19, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

> "Anyone of rank O-4 and above" would be OK for
> most readers of FP. Almost seems like the author
> didn't know what they were talking about...

Tank!

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 19, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Our stockpile of 10,000 nukes should be enough to defend our nation from ordinary military onslaughts. Isn't it a little ridiculous to maintain bases in places like Europe and Korea?
Posted by: Luther

You are kidding, right? Only having the option to go nuclear seems like the most ham-fisted defence policy imaginable. Talk about a disproportionate response.

As to whether we need bases in Europe and Korea, that is of course up for deabte. Personally I'd like to see a lot less bases in Europe, at a minimum.

Posted by: cyntax on February 19, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with the notion that the troops serve a "greater good" is that they never complain when they do not. Instead you get guys whose service consisted of making Kuwait safe for monarchy blathering on about the great threat to world safety posed by ineffectual tyrants like Saddam Hussein.

The United States military showed in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Greneda, Panama, and Iraq that it was more interested in fighting than in fighting the good fight.

Yes, we have a responsibility to elect people who will not badly use the military. But that responsibility is somewhat diminished when the military self-selects bad guys like Bush - even after he started a pointless war of aggression. And each service member takes an oath, not to the cause of war, not to the Republican President, but to uphold the Constitution.

Remeber, there is no provision in the UCMJ requiring obediance to unlawful orders. There is no mechanism for giving a lawful order to wage an unprovoked war of aggression. If we are to treat each soldier as an adult capable of rational decision (which is only right and proper) then we must admit that every one of them taking part in the unprovoked, and illegal assult on Iraq bears culpability for his actions.

Our military is broken. It was not broken by Iraq. It was broken by its acquiescence to yet another war without any national security rationale.

Posted by: heavy on February 19, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

It may well be that they know that allowing gays in the military wouldn't result in a big enough jump to solve the numbers problems, not necessarily that they don't what open gays in the military.

Posted by: vrk on February 19, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"as citizens its our responsibility to ensure the people we elect use resources like the military responsibly."

That DOES seem to be the problem, doesn't it?

Posted by: jay boilswater on February 19, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Remeber, there is no provision in the UCMJ requiring obediance to unlawful orders. There is no mechanism for giving a lawful order to wage an unprovoked war of aggression. If we are to treat each soldier as an adult capable of rational decision (which is only right and proper) then we must admit that every one of them taking part in the unprovoked, and illegal assult on Iraq bears culpability for his actions.

Our military is broken. It was not broken by Iraq. It was broken by its acquiescence to yet another war without any national security rationale.

Posted by: heavy

Sorry but that way lies political coup. Our military members can vote and they do, and they tend to vote conservative, but that's a relatively small portion of any given popular vote. And just because you saw Gulf War I as unjust doesn't mean there was anything at all there that would fit the definition of an unjust order under the UCMJ. There wasn't. It was a war over a strategic resource--oil. Not a good reason in your opinion for a war? Fine, it's a good point. But not one that we should rely on the military to parse for us.

Essentially you're argument seems to be that military should take on the responsibility of counter-balancing the will of the people as expressed in popular votes. Really? The military should be a safety valve existing outside our democratic process? Sorry don't buy that for a minute.

If you don't like what the military is doing, go elect other officials. Do your own political heavy lifting. End of story.

Posted by: cyntax on February 19, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

----- Essentially you're argument seems to be that military should take on the responsibility of counter-balancing the will of the people as expressed in popular votes. Really? The military should be a safety valve existing outside our democratic process? Sorry don't buy that for a minute. -----

The question on the table being whether the military (esp. Army and Air Force) has already thrown its backing behind a specific political party.

Posted by: Not Really on February 19, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

wow, 47% is in favor of increasing maximum age restrictions. From this one can conclude that almost half the senior officers has a shockingly poor grasp of the english language. Like the authors of this study, they don't realize that this phrase means lowering, not increasing, the maximum enlistment age. We are doomed.

Posted by: fransoos on February 19, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

The question on the table being whether the military (esp. Army and Air Force) has already thrown its backing behind a specific political party.
Posted by: Not Really

Sorry what exactly are you referencing from heavy's post?

Posted by: cyntax on February 19, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

No, the notion that the refusal to follow blatantly illegal orders is the way to a coup is pure nonsense. Ordered to fire Archibald Cox one AG after another resigned until someone sleazy enough to commit an illegal act could be found. A non-broken military would act in the same manner. Freedom from is not the same as freedom to. Oh, and by the way, what you suggest is that they will take the freedom to uphold the constitution as leave to abrogate it. That turns my suggestion entirely on its head.

Also, you seem confused. That means I wasn't clear. Making Kuwait safe for monarchy was a bad goal, but that action was rather different from the 43 inhabitant of the White House's illegal war. It was an action in defense of another nation. A bad nation, engaged in likely criminal activity, but a nation nonetheless.

One other point, it isn't the size of the military vote that I'm referring to when I say they self-selected malice in Bush, I am talking about their disproportionate influence. "The military is fighting, they support George W. Bush, that must mean he's doing a good job." I did not say, nor did I imply, that such bad choices on their part excuses the citizenry from their own bad choices; my point is simply that using their influence to select for evil outcomes is a minimizing factor.

Each soldier who refuses to kill Iraqis is a patriot.

I am not asking the military to be a safety valve for democracy, I am asking them to obey the Constitution, the UCMJ, and the laws of our land.

Posted by: heavy on February 19, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Cyntax said
"As to whether we need bases in Europe and Korea, that is of course up for deabte. Personally I'd like to see a lot less bases in Europe, at a minimum."

Given that the Europeans heavily subsidize our military presence there, would you really like your taxes raised to pay the full cost of building and operating new bases in the US for these troops?

Posted by: oldwoodboats on February 19, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I am talking about their disproportionate influence. "The military is fighting, they support George W. Bush, that must mean he's doing a good job."
That's just laziness on the part of someone who doesn't bother to learn more about what's going on other than who won the military vote. How you can see that as something the military can or should account for is beyond me.


I am not asking the military to be a safety valve for democracy, I am asking them to obey the Constitution, the UCMJ, and the laws of our land.
Posted by: heavy

Sorry but you're asking them to obey your interpretation of the UCMJ. Again, if you don't like the way the military is being used get rid of the people giving them the orders.

Posted by: cyntax on February 19, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Given that the Europeans heavily subsidize our military presence there, would you really like your taxes raised to pay the full cost of building and operating new bases in the US for these troops?
Posted by: oldwoodboats

Er no. I think what you're failing to do is show that closing a base in Germany means opneing a base here in the U.S. When you get some data on that, let me know.

Posted by: cyntax on February 19, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm kind of joking at 3:37, by the way.

Posted by: Swan on February 19, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Yes THAT will make America safer! Give military training AND citizenship to just anyone.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA


*thud*

Posted by: getaclue on February 19, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

If you look at the cross-tabs, the 22% who favor letting open gays into the military is very good news. As we all know, attitudes to gays are generational. The final question:

What is your age?
38% 71+ years
34% 61-70 years
17% 51-60 years
6% 41-50 years
6% 31-40 years
.03% 25-30 years

Posted by: Joe S. on February 19, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, there is no interpretation of the UCMJ that allows a superior to give an illegal order to any soldier. That's not "my" inteterpretation. Why do you think there is a requirement to obey any "lawful" order?

We held fucking war crimes trials to uphold the basic principle that "only following orders" was not a valid excuse for commiting war crimes.

I take responsibility for my actions. The soldiers should not be infantilized and shielded from the consequences of theirs.

Posted by: heavy on February 19, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm kind of joking at 3:37, by the way.

You're kind of hopeless at any hour, son. I suggest you drop the search for an attorney position and submit to your fate. It involves hairnets and/or industrial-strength toilet cleaner. You may be all right with plenty of supervision. Chop chop.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 19, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

heavy,

While I sympathize with many of your sentiments, and believe that the Iraq War is/was illegal under international law and the UN charter, do you know of any courts in the US, military or civilian, that have ruled that the invasion was illegal?

Posted by: JM on February 19, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not saying that I support the concept of going to war for any of the reasons that shrubs enspouses. However, passive resistance as a form of protest is a recipe for disaster in the military. These men, especially the enlisted men, have obedience to their superior officers literally drilled into them from boot camp onward. To dump the burden of trying to figure out whether a war is just or unjust based on whatever lies and halftruths are filtered down to the average soldier is an impossible job. The time for refusing illegal or immoral orders is very situation specific, such as refusing to torture, refusing to launch a nuclear weapon or refusing to hold a military action against purely civilian targets. We the people have to take the rest of the responsiblities, because civilian control of the military is one of the bedrock principles of a modern democracy. We've live in a country were the threat of a military coup is not a daily worry, but that is historically one of the greatest threats to any government, free or not. That genie is especially hard to stuff back into the bottle once released.

Posted by: Aaron on February 19, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

What Aaron said.

Posted by: JM on February 19, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not suprised by the 22% who would accept gays and lesbians. I think this is a generational thing. If you surveyed those of ranks less than major, I'd bet there would be a different response.
I'm kind of shocked that 38% think the draft should be reinstated. That is a REALLY HIGH NUMBER considering all the talk about how successful the all-volunteer Army, etc. is. Things must be really hurting to see that number.

Posted by: w2 on February 19, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

heavy @ 6:15PM - "...there is no interpretation of the UCMJ that allows a superior to give an illegal order to any soldier." Quite true.
However, which court in this country (or any country, for that matter) has declared the occupation of Iraq illegal? During which session of Congress was it made illegal to serve in Iraq? Under which treaty does the occupation of Iraq
constitute an illegal act. The UN, which authorized the US under certain conditions, to invade Iraq, hasn't withdrawn that authorization. Nor has the UN declared the occupation illegal; which it is fully entitled to do if it wishes.
The present administration claims, officially, that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was in response to Saddam Hussein's refusal to allow weapons inspectors to verify the existance/nonexistance of WMDs in compliance with the mandate of the UN.
So what is a member of the military to base his/her defense on when arrested and charged with failure to obey a lawful order?
Your sense of moral superiority?

Posted by: Doug on February 19, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Course the other option would be to have a military designed for defending nation not empire and taking steps to reduce recruiting numbers. The sad thing though is that for a country that now has less social mobility than Germany the military has been one of the few bootstraps available for the truly disadvantaged.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 19, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Doug: The UN, which authorized the US under certain conditions, to invade Iraq, hasn't withdrawn that authorization. Nor has the UN declared the occupation illegal; which it is fully entitled to do if it wishes.

Specify, please: 1) which UN resolution authorized the US "to invade Iraq" and 2) by "if it wishes," presumably "it" refers to the UN Security Council, on which the US sits as a permanent, veto-wielding member?

Posted by: JM on February 19, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

You know what, there are worse ways to judge than my sense of moral superiority (spelling, on the other hand is hit or miss).

Using my sense of moral superiority there would be hundreds of thousands of Iraqis living and breathing. A famous Republican once said "freedom means nothing to the dead." In fact, the entirety of the butchery in Iraq and the illegal spying on Americans is premised on that very idea. But, oddly the Republicans who believe that have a very different plan for the human beings who live in Iraq.

Using my sense of moral superiority there would be a million old Vietnamese people who lived through the 60s and 70s without being killed by American bombs. Not to mention those maimed, displaced, and orphaned.

Did I mention the Laotians, or the Cambodians who would never have suffered under Pol Pot?

Don't discount a sense of moral superiority. When one's moral sense is as good as mine is it is a damn good guide for behavior and pretty good way to conduct foreign policy.

By the way, opposing unprovoked aggression doesn't even require a particularly refined sense of moral superiority. That's just fucking common sense.

Posted by: heavy on February 19, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

That being said, while no court has ruled the unprovoked aggression against the citizens of Iraq illegal, the very premise of "preventative war" is the definition of "unprovoked aggression." Which, by the way, is the very heart of a crime against peace - in other words a war crime.

There was never any evidence that Iraq was an immanent threat to the national security of the United States.

There has never been an American life taken by the state of Iraq without that individual being engaged in the commission of acts of aggression against that state.

No materiel has ever been damaged by the state of Iraq without (as above) that materiel being used in the commission of acts of aggression against that state.

(that some of those acts may have been justified by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait is not relevant - Iraq's behavior prior to suing for peace cannot justify the subsequent invasion)

In short, no objective viewer of the events leading up to the bombing of Baghdad would find in favor of the nation dropping hundreds of bombs in a futile and extremely brutal campaign to assassinate the Iraqi leader. The subsequent assault on the people of Iraq could fare no better than the opening salvo.

Again, there has been no ruling, but the evidence has been on display for all to see. Only those who choose to not to see it could be convinced that the United States has the better argument than the innocent people of Iraq.

Posted by: heavy on February 19, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Only having the option to go nuclear seems like the most ham-fisted defence policy imaginable. Talk about a disproportionate response."

As an option to a real, authentic military invasion of America proper, The Bomb is just what the doctor ordered.

America is essentially invulnerable to conventional military invasion. Why the huge military?

Posted by: Joey Giraud on February 19, 2008 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Gut the military. Slash the troop levels by 75-90%. Cease all funding for Iraq operations immediately. Make it a race to see which unit can get the hell out of that shithole the quickest.

It is an utter and compete waste of your tax dollars and doesn't buy us a smidgen of "national security". You people have been suckered big time. Damn fools.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 19, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

I don't often do congrats, but TCD is unfortunately right. In 1941 we had no massive military might. When we needed it, a call to patriotism went out and we built the biggest, baddest, motherfucking military in the world. With it, and the Soviets taking the brunt of Hitler's forces, we defeated an honest to god threat to the world.

Rather than recognizing that "can do" spirit we fell into a childish paranoia and have let that big, bad, motherfucking military take over something like half of our discretionary governmental spending.

It is a boondoggle; a jobs program for the psychotic and the morally twisted. It is an attractive nuisance that allows every President the unfortunate ability to wreak havoc on foreign citizens to distract (at best) or bamboozle the public. The most evil of those Presidents use the military as a prop and their valor as a shield to protect them from the ravages of the electorate who might otherwise notice the incompetence and malice the use of the military so often entails.

Posted by: heavy on February 19, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Trade service for citizenship 78%

Hmmm. Well, it looks like the cheap Mexican and Central American labor force that is now out of work due to the housing collapse can find opportunities in the Army and earn a path to citizenship that righties won't complain about. Management™ will not have a cheap input squandered! Here here!

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 20, 2008 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

In 1941 we had no massive military might.

Gee, do you think that maybe Hitler noticed that? Ever heard of the word deterrence? Better not to fight a war at all, moron.

(the military is) a jobs program for the psychotic and the morally twisted.

God, what a creep you are.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 20, 2008 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Trading citizenship for military service is a risky choice. The Romans tried it. Not enough Roman citizens wanted to serve, so to maintain force levels foreigners were offered citizenship in exchange for military service.

The new citizens eventually got tired of defending people who would not defend themselves. Rome fell.

The question that majors, et al, should have been asked is why aren't Americans supporting the war by joining the Army.

Posted by: zak822 on February 20, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Hm...one of us has killed people. One of us cheerleads for more ever killing. One of us thinks that the death of an innocent woman and child is justified by the extra-judicial murder of a terrorist suspect. Somehow the one who hasn't done any of those is consistently called a creep by the one who has.

Odd.

Don't be a fucking moron, deterrence doesn't justify the slaughter of Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Panamanians, or Iraqis; the idea of having a military is like the death penalty - it sounds good in theory but then when you see that the practice is racist and requires individuals commit horrific acts that twist their souls you realize that it doesn't work in practice.

Posted by: heavy on February 20, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and to be clear. Your edit of my comment doesn't do it justice. I'm not saying that just the military is a jobs program for the twisted, I am including those who build the bombs, those who plan the wars, and every one of the blood suckers who suckle at the government teat in the service of death and destruction to the detriment of our social fabric.

The children starving in America and abroad are ill served by spending money on ways to convert human beings into piles of mush. The energy crisis is ill served, in fact the number of things we could be doing instead of threatening the world with its largest war machine is staggering.

Also staggering, that anyone who supported the unprovoked aggression against the Iraqi people could possibly think they have anything of merit to contribute to discussions on the use of military force.

Everyone who supported it (Kevin mostly gets a pass because he realized before the invasion that it was stupid, a better position than Clinton's) should have the decency to shut the fuck up about national security because they are, demonstrably, incompetent on the issue.

Posted by: heavy on February 20, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Ever heard of the word deterrence? Better not to fight a war at all, moron."

Gee, now if you had just applied that little lesson to Iraq.... Now what was that you were saying about "moron", again?

Posted by: PaulB on February 20, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK
The UN, which authorized the US under certain conditions, to invade Iraq, hasn't withdrawn that authorization.

The only authorization the US had to attack Iraq was the one under which the US attacked to push Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991, and, in fact, the authorization for invasion was withdrawn completely by the subsequent cease-fire resolution imposed on all parties by the UNSC (a resolution which the aerial patrols and associated attacks carried out by the US, UK and, initially, France were clearly contrary to, incidentally.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 20, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

It seems, Kevin, that you are overlooking the most interesting statistic in the Foreign Policy survey, that 78%favor trading service for citizenship. Increasingly, our armed forces are to become a kind of foreign legion, made up mainly of foreingers available for use at the whim of the president. Why do conservatives, who advocate all kinds of foreign adventures, oppose illegal immigration? Where do they think they are going go get the troops?

Posted by: Todd on February 20, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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