The military and society

That there is an estrangement between America’s elite and its military
is well-known.
Here is a book that discusses this estrangement, and
an anonymous review at amazon.com which makes some very good points.

** Roth-Douquet+Schaeffer-AWOL
Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer,
The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service
and How It Hurts Our Country
Washington Post review
[An excerpt from the review (emphasis is added):]

Whether ...
personal connections [between policy makers and the military]
actually affect policy is almost impossible to say,
but common sense supports the authors' assertion that
“the grunt on the ground is best equipped, best trained, and best served
when the opinion makers have a personal stake in his or her well-being.”


those who benefit most from living in a country
contribute the least to its defense

those who benefit least
are asked to pay the ultimate price,

something happens to the soul of that country.”


“We are shortchanging a generation of smart, motivated Americans
who have been prejudiced against service by parents and teachers.
Their parents may think they are protecting their children.
Their teachers may think they are enlightening them.
But perhaps what these young people are being protected from is
selflessness, and
the kind of ownership of their country that can give it a better future.”

Some of the “Customer Reviews” for this book at amazon.com
are exceptionally interesting,
showing what real people want to say to
the elite who are constantly telling them what to think, and say.

Here is one of those Customer Reviews which I think
makes some very good points.
His description of the elites is, of course, not 100% accurate,
but does still have a great deal of validity.
(I have lightly edited his review to, in my opinion,
“improve” its grammar and clarity (hope I haven’t missed too much).
Also, some emphasis has been added.
My apologies to its author if I have distorted his intended meaning.)

***** Perhaps working America will wake up and figure out the truth
June 15, 2006
Reviewer: Right-Wing-disliker

AWOL is written by two authors who are sort of on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
They are worried about the future of this nation because the upper class,
the "good" students of our society,
has seen fit not to serve in the military.
To use one of the writer's words,
"the elite's children let the lower class do the heavy lifting".

Both of these authors may see the real danger that lies to America.
Oh, it's not from some foreign army.
The danger is that the lower class kids and parents will figure out that
their military service is merely used
to help blue blood liberal Democrats and rich Republicans
keep power over the lower class in this nation.
Consider this,
Ford motor company executives,
mostly educated at the elite University of Michigan,
will be shipping most of the Ford's good paying assembly line jobs to Mexico
in the coming decade.
America's working class military service in protecting the privileged elites
has resulted in
absolutely no loyalty to America by its elite upper class.
Why protect people who will ultimately do you harm?

This reviewer put in twenty years of service.
I received poor pay for the service.
When attending college I was somewhat ridiculed by some professors
for being part of American imperialism.
This reviewer faced open job discrimination for being a veteran.
This is a direct quote from a corporate recruiter,
"why should we hire a veteran
when we can hire some kid who put themself through school
by working at McDonalds and getting college loans?"

Then an epiphany hit this reviewer.
My military service protected and enriched the people who meant me ill.
My military service enabled employers to discriminate against me.
My military service gave protection to the college professors
who would later belittle my service.
The elites who benefited the most from my military service
had nothing but contempt for my work.

I now tell most lower class children that they are crazy to join the military.
I tell the children at my church that
military service goes to protect college professors and some employers
who may not have their best interests at heart.

In my family I'm known as the veteran.
I make it a point of bringing up the fact that
defending this nation isn't really a good idea.
Why should you put your life on the line for the ACLU?
The ACLU is the same group of people who will sue on behalf of a group of child rapists or Islamic terrorists.
You want to defend them?
That snide college professor, who never did one bit of selfless work in his life,
you want to defend them?
That leftist judge, who let a multiple murderer off with a light sentence,
you want to go through misery in basic training
so he can still give terrible court decisions?
Yes, when the drill sergeant yells at you during an all night patrol
you can take comfort in the fact that
the elites you're protecting are working against your best interests.

The bottom line in life is a lot of traditional American kids give a great deal of time and effort into military service to protect their "Blue" state overlords.
Have no military service but a Harvard education?
Fine, become a leader in the US State department.
Have no military service but received a degree in feminist studies at Princeton?
You can go to the head of the line and become a director of Gender education
at a college, the pay is over $75,000 per year.
Have no military service but have a degree in international business from Stanford? That is O.K. You're qualified to work as a business manager at Ford.
Mexican labor is a fraction of the cost of a worker in the USA.

Now, for you traditional kids who defended this nation and went to college, well, that is no big problem.
The US government might give you preference for lower level government jobs,
such as a postal letter carrier or a prison guard.

Traditional Americans are stupid to join the military
to defend both the rights of the upper class.
There is no profit in it.

And these two upper class American authors have figured this fact out:
military service by the lower class
merely reinforces the power of the privileged elites.

America's privileged elites are not worth the effort to defend.
the ACLU, NOW,
the Democratic Party, the Republican Party,
the leftist judges, the Hollywood elites,
and the rest of the clowns
defend themselves.

This book is thirty years too late.



Their War
Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population serves in our military.
In a time of war, what should that mean to the rest of us?

By Kristin Henderson
Washington Post Magazine, 2007-07-22

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

American civilians no longer seem comfortable
labeling a soldier as both a killer and a hero.

In fact, they’re not particularly comfortable with the military in general.

Less than half the civilian population believes military leaders can be relied on to respect civilian control of the military, according to surveys by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, an academic think tank in North Carolina. Never mind that 92 percent of military leaders still insist their civilian masters should have the final say on whether to use military force. And while nearly two-thirds of military leaders believe they share the same values as the American people, only about one-third of their civilian counter-parts agree. The vast majority of civilians believe service members are intolerant, stingy, rigid and lacking in creativity. More than 20 percent report they’d be disappointed if their children joined the military.

Before the invasion of Iraq,
the editorial boards of major newspapers endorsed the use of force,
yet a search turned up
no calls for Americans to join up to support the effort.
President Bush urged civilians to go shopping.

“The military is at war, but the country is not,”
warns University of Maryland sociologist David Segal.
“And the military resents that.”



In the heat of an unpopular war, decades of social trends boiled over: the development of relativistic theologies, growing legal emphasis on the rights of the individual and the emergence of the teenage years as a time free from both parental restrictions and adult responsibilities.
These trends empowered and united war opponents with a moral certainty
that surpassed anything seen during previous conflicts,
as described by Frank Schaeffer and Kathy Roth-Douquet in
The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes From Military Service --
and How It Hurts Our Country

In Vietnam, Gen. William Westmoreland lied about body counts, and American soldiers massacred women and children at My Lai. Vietnam taught its generation to distrust the military. The collective memory of Vietnam’s luckless, disadvantaged draftees, forced to fight a politically polarizing war, and the certainty of the protesters that they were right to oppose it, still shape civilian American attitudes toward the military. While pre-Vietnam generations saw military service as an apolitical civic duty, Schaeffer points out that today’s civilians tend to see it as a career choice for the underprivileged, a choice that also depends on whether they approve of the policies of the moment.

“The new excuse is, I’d never send my son to fight in Iraq,” says Schaeffer. An author with no military background who lives in an affluent area near Boston, Schaeffer also blames the lingering priorities of the Me Generation. “My class are dismissive of anything other than the glittering fast track of money.”

Statistically, recruits are less likely to come from affluent Zip codes such as those in many Washington area suburbs. Some claim this is because military recruiters target the poor. But recruiters are not welcome in most affluent neighborhoods.


Civilian and military researchers have confirmed that recruiters are not targeting the very rich, but neither are they aiming at the very poor -- the privileged aren’t interested, and the disadvantaged can’t handle the increasingly technical training. It’s the middle they’re after.


Until Vietnam, the military broke down along the same political lines as the rest of the country, about one-third independent, one-third Democratic, one-third Republican. The enlisted ranks still do. But in the past 30 years, the officer corps has undergone a revolution. In the most recent comprehensive study, conducted in the late 1990s by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, Republican officers outnumbered Democrats 8 to 1. In 2006, only 16 percent of Army Times active-duty readers, who are mostly senior in rank, declared themselves Democrats.

Contrary to a common misperception, minorities are only slightly overrepresented in the military, making up 35 percent of service personnel compared to about 33 percent of the general population.

Overall, recruits tend to come from small towns. And, while these small towns often have a boarded-up factory, family incomes indicate that those joining the military are the upwardly mobile working middle class.

There’s clearly some self-selection going on, too, because nearly half of all Army recruits are following in the footsteps of a parent who has served. We seem to be creating an American warrior class.

Yet, historically, America’s military has always been small, volunteer and professional in peacetime, swelling with draftees in times of war. Large, professional standing armies made the Founding Fathers nervous, because they had watched the monarchs of imperial Europe use armies to oppress their own people, writes military historian Russell Weigley. So, until recently, whenever we needed an army big enough to do real damage we relied on conscription.

Even today’s all-volunteer force, designed in the 1960s and launched when Congress repealed the draft in 1973, was originally based on that pattern. “The blueprint says when we’re in a situation like the one we’re in now -- a large-scale, protracted war, with more than a hundred thousand deployed, lasting longer than six months -- that would trigger a draft,” says sociologist Segal, who directs Maryland‘s Center for Research on Military Organization. “We’re asking the volunteer force to do something it was never designed to do.”

The 1991 Persian Gulf War, and now Afghanistan and Iraq, are the first major wars America has fought with an all-volunteer force. For a democracy, it’s a huge experiment in the art of waging war.

“In a democratic society, the army is a people’s army, a reflection of the popular will,” Segal explains. “Military operations cannot be successful in the long run without popular support.”

To some degree, the gap between the military and the people has been masked by one of the other lessons of Vietnam: Don’t blame the soldiers for the military misadventures of our civilian leaders. Today’s peace marchers generally take care to chant that they support the troops, not the war. But Segal worries that the military’s low visibility in American society is leading to estrangement. “People say they support the troops, but I don’t know how long one can sustain that if one doesn’t know what a soldier is.”

In a nation of more than 300 million people, less than 1 percent serve in all the armed forces combined, active duty and reserve. Compare that to previous wartimes: 4 percent served during Vietnam, 12 percent during World War II, 11 percent during the Civil War. Today, in many neighborhoods, civilians can go about their lives without ever crossing paths with someone on active duty. Even in military towns, connections are hard to sustain -- active-duty service members move every three years, on average. “They’re coaching youth soccer, serving as deacons, volunteering in the schools,” Segal says. “But if they’re deployed, you lose your deacon.” Meanwhile, rootless military children are always the new kid, rarely graduating from the same high school where they started as freshmen.

More and more in America, civilians have no contact with the people who do the fighting, yet civilians are the ones who decide when and where those people fight. What happens to a democracy when its civilians live in one world and its warriors in another?

Not so our military leaders. Not these days.


In 1956, during the draft era, 400 members of Princeton‘s graduating class of 750 went into the military; five decades later, Princeton led the Ivy League by producing all of nine new officers. It’s been this way since the angry college protest days of Vietnam.

Back then, as America’s elites were deferring their way out of military service, so were America’s elite universities. Faculty and student leaders argued that ROTC was an academically limited program that shut down discussion instead of broadening the free and open exchange of ideas. In 1969, the Yale faculty voted to stop giving academic credit for military science courses, which are taught by the military officers who run ROTC and are open to any student, not only cadets. In response, the military closed down the Yale ROTC programs. The same thing happened at many leading schools nationwide.

As a result, students such as Day who attend schools such as Yale, Harvard and Stanford have to go somewhere else to find the military science classes and physical training that their ROTC scholarships require. The Army runs ROTC programs at other Connecticut schools, close enough to Yale that the two cadets can get to them. The University of Connecticut and Sacred Heart University, for instance, are a reasonable driving distance away. But Yale’s isolation is underscored by the fact that a state institution such as UConn hosts more than five dozen cadets, compared with Yale’s two.

Congress launched ROTC during World War I to standardize the education of America’s citizen soldiers. Along with the National Guard and Reserves, ROTC acts as one of the few connecting threads that weave the military into the broader fabric of society -- cadets live, learn and socialize alongside civilian students, building relationships and helping to ensure that the military and civilian communities each have a stake in the other.

But since the end of the draft in ‘73, the percentage of officers educated in the isolated bubble of the military academies, instead of in ROTC, has doubled. This is producing an officer corps that collectively is less and less representative of the civilian world it serves, a trend observed by professor and national security specialist Michael Desch.

A similar process is occurring on the civilian side. Since 1992, continuing another trend that started early in the last century, five of the six Republican and Democratic nominees for president have held a degree from Yale or Harvard -- Ivy League schools have become the incubators of our top civilian leadership. The absence of military science classes and cadets from those campuses means our future civilian leaders are less likely to learn about military issues and have fewer opportunities to get to know the officers they will one day command.

The consequences appear to be suspicion and stereotyping. Those Triangle Institute for Security Studies surveys reveal that only 1 percent of military leaders think civilian leaders are very knowledgeable about the military. More than one-third of civilian leaders believe the military is dishonest, and fewer than half believe it’s attracting high-quality recruits.

The military and civilian camps must work together on life-and-death issues that face the country, yet, increasingly, they neither understand nor trust each other.



Former military officials' performance in administration questioned
By Anne E. Kornblut and Scott Wilson
Washington Post, 2010-05-24

[It would be nice if there were a rebuttal to this
from the point of view of military officers.
Unfortunately, the absence of retired flag officers from our chattering classes
is breathtaking.]

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