Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Heck No, We Won’t Go?

Interesting piece in this month’s Atlantic Monthly. Andrew Bacevich, professor at Boston University and retired Army colonel, talks about an increasingly vocal element of the armed services. A small group of service members are lobbying Congress to withdraw from Iraq.

He writes, “It heralds the appearance of something new to the American political landscape: a soldiers’ lobby. In formulating their appeal, men and women in America’s fighting forces claim a new prerogative: to engage in collective political action for the explicit purpose of influencing national-security policy.”


“The creation of the all-volunteer force had a second consequence. Military service, once viewed (at least nominally) as a civic obligation, has become a matter of choice. As a result, the burden of “defending our freedom” no longer falls evenly across society. Those choosing to serve do not represent a cross section of America, and most are presumably well aware of that fact.

To assuage uneasy consciences, the many who do not serve proclaim their high regard for the few who do. This has vaulted America’s fighting men and women to the top of the nation’s moral hierarchy. The character and charisma long ago associated with the pioneer or the small farmer—or carried in the 1960s by Dr. King and the civil-rights movement—has now come to rest upon the soldier.”

He concludes:

“[E]mpowering groups of soldiers to join in the debate over contentious issues is short-sighted and dangerous. Implicit in the appeal is the suggestion that national-security policies somehow require the consent of those in uniform. Lately, media outlets have reinforced this notion, reporting as newsworthy the results of polls that asked soldiers whether administration plans meet with their approval.”

I am not so concerned about the folks who agree or disagree with the current operations in Iraq. What I want to see are the effects on voting once these brave men and women rotate enough times. This also has to have an effect on their family's vote. I’ll be watching out for any blue and red shifts in the next several elections. Any guess on how many Iraq war vets will run for office?

The full (subscription) article can be found here:



The DEW Line said...

Hasn't there always been some form of internal dissent in the military? Unlike Bacevich, I'm not surprised, and I'm not sure we really need to worry about it. In a war this long and this controversial, it's inevitable that a certain number of service members voice their opinion about it.

Unmanned Bloggers said...

I agree. Bacevich's point about these small group of dissenters is on the surface very localized. But I think there are larger implications. Does easier access to mass communication make dissenters more influential? To other servicemembers? To the American public? I don't know. I do agree with Bacevich in questioning how much of a disruption to an all volunteer force this can be. I'm interested to see what the larger trend here is, if any.