Military and Civilians Divided (May 25, 2015)


The LA Times' Memorial Day weekend "Special Report" entitled "U.S. Military and Civilians Are Increasingly Divided" implies the divide to be an aberration burdensome to U.S. troops. Nonetheless it is a natural and desirable divide necessitated by practicalities.

Belligerence is the lone military raison d'etre, and since anything goes on the battlefield there are irreconcilable differences between core military values and the characteristic values of ordinary civilian communities. Recognized differences are great enough to necessitate different systems of jurisprudence for the two. For token example consider that civilian employees can be fired for ignoring the boss while military subordinates legally can be shot dead under certain circumstances.

The end justifies the means in military circles and the military's "win at any cost" mindset is a primary reason that astute individuals oppose appointing career military officers to head-up powerful government organizations like NSA. Such highly trained individuals are biased against anything possibly thwarting immediate goals even when human rights issues and humanitarian values are the obstacles. One case in point is ongoing illegal surveillance activity usurped under the PATRIOT act. Militarized intelligence agencies have little respect for laws interfering with perceived objectives and military bosses will sometimes lie to civilian inquirers threatening immediate goals—James Clapper and Keith Alexander are prime examples.

The U.S military today is not "becoming a separate warrior class", it IS a separate warrior class—well-compensated and cared for, especially retirees. Veterans have been extensively trained in military values sometimes inconsistent with civilized ends. The longer an individual "serves" the more challenging it can be to "overcome" this training. The challenge intensifies in proportion to combat experiences. It is desirable from both military and civilian perspectives to have active duty troops "live in relative isolation" when not deployed. Otherwise sociological problems currently manifest on Okinawa can take hold. Those problems are great enough that an estimated 15,000 Japanese civilians surrounded government buildings in Tokyo this weekend protesting additional U.S. base construction on Okinawa.

No less disturbing is contemporarily fashionable homeland adulation of all things military. "Thank you for your service" is replacing "have a nice day" as adieu when addressing veterans. Exactly what does one thank a veteran for? Participating in illegal invasions of foreign nations under false pretense? Slaughtering brown people for riches? Collecting everyone's personal information and life details for possible use by the higher-ups? Defending our way of life? Ha. "Our whole history shows we have never fought a defensive war" is how U.S. Marine Corps General Smedley Butler stated it back in the 1930s.

War is an instrument of national policy and wars are initiated to create conditions favorable to national policy interests. The belief that wars are initiated to defeat enemies is a popular misconception perpetuated by warmongering politicians who use the notion advantageously in rallying patriotic support for the next alluring standoff. There is a widely accepted reasonable argument that hubristic US foreign policy is the root cause of today's international terrorism. No doubt more than a few earthlings wish harm to America in espoused redress for calloused polices dating back to the end of WWII if not before. Certainly this holds true for the Middle East. In October 2001 Osama bin Laden videotaped that rationale and his three specific reasons for attacking the Twin Towers—well documented by Chalmers Johnson in the prologue to Nemesis.

In any case military and civilian circumstances, values, and training are innately and irreconcilably disparate. An anonymous ROTC student was quoted by The LA Times like this: "I am irritated by the apathy, lack of patriotic fervor, and generally anti-military and anti-American sentiment [of other students]". That most encouraging comment implies that perhaps students not subjected to ROTC training more readily forego childish patriotic fervor, fashionable adulation of things military, and mindless nationalism in favor of reason, enlightenment, and reflection unfettered by emotion. Fewer not more military mindsets are needed in all positions of national leadership—both military and civilian.

If the U.S. could genuinely relish humanitarian outcomes [irrespective of potential profits] and could unselfishly champion diplomacy, negotiation, compromise, and mutual respect as preferred tools of international discourse, belligerence as an instrument of national policy might eventually be criminalized and possibly eradicated. In the meantime let's keep the volunteer professional warriors in their place—reasonably far from polite society.

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