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After Multiple Deployments, Coming Home to a Changed Country

Serving in the armed forces has its share of burdens, from frequent moves to extended time away. The military does, however, does give you a different perspective on America [1] and what being American means.

I recently enjoyed four weeks off following a six-month deployment to Afghanistan (my fourth)—time off being relative, of course. I was only home early for the birth of our third child, prior to moving to Hawaii. At any rate, I spent nearly a month in our hometown of Papillion, Nebraska, where my wife and children had been spending my deployment.

While we had visited them at least yearly up until then, these were short-term, family-oriented trips, without time to take in changes. The combination of a new baby, packing and organizing for the move, and being as close to any home I’ve had since joining the Army at 17, made me nostalgic. It gave me an eye to the changes in my hometown and how they might relate to larger changes in the American cultural landscape. My time off also allowed for reflection on the growing civilian-military divide [2], something my family feels acutely.

Papillion is at the southern edge of the greater Omaha metropolitan area, one of the American suburban pods or city-states Robert Kaplan described in his 1996 book An Empire Wilderness. Kaplan predicted that areas like St. Louis, Atlanta, and Houston would increasingly aggregate power, creating local identities to the detriment of state/national consensus. Suburbanization only accelerates this fracturing.

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A former homestead farm with topsoil cleared prior to construction of a suburb.
(John Q. Bolton)

An irony of American history is that our country filled up at its edges before its center. Pioneers largely passed the “Great American Desert” for the fertility of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The American interior lacks water and predictable weather but has some of the best farmland in the world. American history largely consists of colonizing our great middle, with the courage of settlers and soldiers balanced against the atrocities wreaked on the Plains tribes. The changes across this grass sea occurred despite the region’s climate and geography. The magnitude of change was apparent to me during my month at home.

In the two decades since I’d left, settlement, suburbanization, and sprawl had fashioned enormous changes throughout Eastern Nebraska, stripping the formerly small community of much of its character, consuming the prairie in endless shopping centers and homogeneous neighborhoods separated into class-based clusters.

Omaha’s unending, treeless housing development.
(John Q.Bolton)

Though Omaha’s robust insurance, farming, and service sectors helped the metro largely escape the 2008 recession, this growth was not without cost. The smaller retail spaces where my friends and I would pass the summer days running errands were gone, replaced by huge concrete pastures “anchored” by a Target, Walmart, or Sam’s Club. The older, smaller spaces were mostly empty, now filled with medical offices, dog groomers, and seasonal shops. I was told one large retail space had hosted six major chains in 10 years after a large supermarket failed. Everywhere, large, faded signage seemed like ghosts of the previous tenants. One plaza where a Walmart had supported multiple smaller shops was now an impromptu used car lot. That Walmart had moved a few blocks over to a new neighborhood and, I was told, a better tax package. In case shoppers needed goods in greater bulk, a new Sam’s Club was a block to the south.

In a way, the state of these public spaces reflects the thinning of American political culture. It occurred to me that our military must also change as our culture becomes increasingly lonely [3] through “radical individualism,” as Yuval Levin describes it in The Fractured Republic, and our national identity itself dissolves as suburban pods grow. This fracturing of the national consensus—and the public ambivalence about our never-ending wars—hits military families hard [4], particularly spouses [5].

change_me

Though only 1 percent of the nation is in uniform, the more alarming trend is that military service is increasingly a family affair [6]. Coupled with the localized recruitment and basing in the West and Southeast, we are quickly evolving into a praetorian military culture. The tenor of discussion while I was home reflected this reality.

I found people expecting me to confirm things they already believed about our military in order to affirm their confidence in America. The trouble is I don’t share that confidence. My 40 months deployed since 2006 have left me with a hard edge. To be sure, I am proud of my country and certainly feel a strong desire to continue service past my thankfully short time left in uniform. But I temper that loyal desire with hard-earned realism about the capacity of the military to deliver on the blind faith the public reposes.

Perhaps condescendingly, I felt most people back home were naïve or at least perpetually misinformed. Consideration or debate beyond the platitudes didn’t occur [7]. No matter their education or worldliness, most Americans retain their supremely American-esque limited interest in politics and foreign and military policy. Much-needed realism, if not satire, is absent [8] from our sacred military, because the public either regards it as sacrosanct or detestable. Worst of all, the public is apathetic about their military [9].

(John Q. Bolton)

From otherwise considerate and intelligent friends and family I heard comments like “Hope your killing lots of those f–kers” and “Kick some ass over there,” despite the lack of any serious, let alone existential, threat to the American homeland posed by extremists in Afghanistan. Even well-meaning people, it seems, don’t want to understand what our policies hath wrought, at home and abroad.

Many consider it patriotism, but this feeling [10] is specious, insipid, and self-destructive. Calls to “do something” ignore the two-fold genesis of terrorist threats against us: domestic instability in Islamic countries and American actions. The truth is that America is exhausting itself in internecine wars of choice across the greater Middle East [11]—actions that exacerbate [11] instability. War has bankrupted our nation during a time of effective peace, without any discernible threat comparable to the costs, though the media certainly doesn’t help [12] the public see the threat clearly. The wars have also contributed to our fractured politics, as we ignore guns versus butter by using debt and conduct specious freedom versus security arguments.

America is “fast becoming a country undone by war [13].” As Christianity declines, Americans have chosen a less demanding, syncretic national religion: military hero worship. I’m not a hero, but I felt people wanted me to affirm their beliefs. Rather than turn a skeptical eye toward our militarized foreign policy, Americans seem determined to support the military regardless of cost or efficacy.

I think serious military professionals should find this insulting and disheartening. The military isn’t sacred and its members aren’t all heroes [14] (though military heroes undoubtedly exist in droves). Tragically, military hero worship has created a separate caste of military professionals: effective, well-trained, and distant. It has made the cost of our wars palatable because the human dimension is absent from discussion. Ironically, the military doesn’t have a supply problem—it has a demand problem. [15] It is over-extended, to the detriment of other elements of national power [16].

After a career fighting them, I can attest that America’s wars are harmful to our people, politics, and liberty—a “form of prolonged ritual suicide.” With no unifying vision or principles, huge swaths of the people have turned tribal. This Sunni versus Shiite breakdown of the American electorate [17] will release shards [18] that leave permanent cultural wounds. 

Towards the end of my stay in Nebraska, I drove to the Offutt Air Force Base gym. Taking the long way, I drove over a newly paved road that had a dirt track when I was in high school—we used to drink beer there because no traffic ever came, certainly not at night. Now a four-lane thruway, I passed former homesteads: over a dozen were being demolished as the suburbs encroached. In a process not dissimilar to strip mining, the prairie topsoil was gone, exposing the rich black soil underneath—the same that allows a single American farmer to feed hundreds. A strong wind picked up, grabbing the soil and debris into small dust devils. The dirt swirled for a few seconds, fell, then rose, dissipating in the breeze.

It was a metaphor for the cost of material progress and our unwillingness to discuss it. Our national inheritance being consumed before our eyes for the easy convenience of the present, consumed without thought for the future [19] and the price our children will bear for our recklessness.

John Q. Bolton is an Army officer recently returned from Afghanistan and has had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. An Army aviator, he holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy, an MBA from American Military University, and a Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the Command and General Staff College. This article represents his personal views, not those of the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, or the U.S. government.

35 Comments (Open | Close)

35 Comments To "After Multiple Deployments, Coming Home to a Changed Country"

#1 Comment By Whine Merchant On May 10, 2018 @ 3:24 am

Wonderful to read such a calm yet moving piece that clearly articulates the self-inflicted problems faced by the US, bemoans the simplistic views of the body politic, and challenges the myth of American exceptionalism.

#2 Comment By Uncle Billy On May 10, 2018 @ 8:10 am

As a former officer in the Marine Corps (1970’s), I can say that a little humor, especially humor with a sharp edge is helpful. The military is not sacred. It is not above saltire. My favorite boss was a Major who had won a Silver Star in Vietnam, and had a razor sharp wit. He often broke the tension with a joke or witty barb.

People who have never served don’t understand this. They regard the armed forces as some sort of priesthood, which it is not. Indeed, very often situations resembled a Saturday Night Live skit.

Unfortunately, political correctness would stifle the humor of 40 years ago, which was often ribald, but quite funny. Too bad.

#3 Comment By wake On May 10, 2018 @ 8:13 am

This is good writing and thoughtful on our state as a country.

The retail and small town aspect of it are a destructive and inevitable result of efficiency of larger corporate systems. People complained about Wal-Mart’s destruction of small towns decades ago, and it was true, while bringing lower prices to all, and concentrating profits of hundreds of thousands or million s of shopkeepers into the hands of a very few.

Amazon will make it all that much worse again.

The farming economy is also consolidated, with big farmers now running 10,000 acres instead of 1,000 or 600 of several decades ago. The hollows the remainder of the small towns, just ghostly remains now whether they have died or not.

#4 Comment By John On May 10, 2018 @ 8:44 am

Thank you for this thoughtful article

#5 Comment By Oakinhouston On May 10, 2018 @ 9:06 am

Mr. Bolton, thank you for writing this. Probably the best I’ve seen in the pages of TAC in quite some time.

I can’t add or substract anything. Just, again, thank you, and good fortune to you and yours. Be safe, and come back to your family soon.

#6 Comment By Harry Colin On May 10, 2018 @ 9:46 am

An exceptionally important piece. One of the catch phrases of our cheap patriotism here in America is “Thank you for your service,” which many (well-meaning, for sure) folks will utter when they come upon an active duty or veteran military. As a former Army officer, I’ve always tempered my appreciation for those remarks with the idea that the unspoken part of that phrase is, “better you than me.”

This is a courageous reflection by a man subjected to a ridiculous four deployments to a war-torn hellhole; thanks to him indeed for not only bearing this unfair burden but for his willingness to speak so forthrightly about our foreign policy. These continual re-deployments to combat areas help explain the awful rate of suicide among veterans; continual exposure to these situations is absurdly dangerous to one’s mental health, not to mention the physical toll.

Far beyond time to exit from this ultimately self-destructive course we are on and focus on America’s needs at home.

#7 Comment By John Blade Wiederspan On May 10, 2018 @ 10:04 am

A truly objective look at society and the military, written with an exceptional style. As a fellow Nebraskan, I am proud of this young man. It will be interesting and sad to see how lesser minds react negatively to this fine article.

#8 Comment By Reader On May 10, 2018 @ 10:06 am

A great essay.

I have seen the same thing happening here in Illinois, where I have lived all my life. The town where I grew up and still live has a population five times what it was when I graduated from high school in the 1970s. All the towns around us have similarly grown. Some of the world’s best farmland is now parking lots and shopping centers. Streams have been turned into lifeless drainage ditches. Most residential areas have no character, unless bland is character.

And Walmart! Exactly what is described in this essay happened in my town. The old Walmart — which was built on a beautiful dairy farm — closed several years ago and moved less than two miles north at the edge of our neighboring town, which gave huge tax breaks to get the store. The old Walmart is now vacant, another farm was ruined for the new Walmart, and a stream at the edge of the new Walmart parking lot has been ditched.

Virtually every shopping center has spaces that have been empty for years.

And don’t get me going on the worship of cops/military. There are churches in this town that put US flags near their altars. It’s routine in some churches to ask military personnel and police to stand for special recognition and applause.

The people who do this say they worship the Lamb of God and Prince of Peace.

#9 Comment By Raymond On May 10, 2018 @ 10:25 am

Well said, John.

We have the same unexamined soldier-worship in Canada, though perhaps our case is less severe. Certainly Canada does not suffer from the war-fever that has seemed to grip your leadership for a generation. But the same bumper-sticker deep analysis, the nativism, the weakening of civic norms and obligations – they have infected us as well.

Like you, I also worry that the military is becoming a caste in Canada. My father served before me and now my daughter is heading out on her first deployment. Many Canadian military spouses were themselves base kids – and many are also serving members. Its not healthy for our democracy. Like you, I also worry about proto-praetorianism.

What both our societies need now is a long break from war. The grim truth is that its really up to your country to decide that. Like your other close allies, Canada will support you when you call – perhaps with the slightest of a sigh as we shoulder our rucksacks. But yeah, war is starting to just seem normal. And that worries me.

#10 Comment By Patrick Moore On May 10, 2018 @ 10:38 am

Thank you for an unusually perceptive — “insightful” — and nuanced analysis of our military mindset and the cultural fragmentation that suburbia manifests; and for writing so clearly and eloquently. As someone who has never served in the military, permit me to add that I don’t usually find these qualities what the usual media publish by career military people.

While I don’t agree wholeheartedly with Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option” — for one thing, we are at the end instead of the beginning of a civilization — I do agree with him that the antidote to our increasing social and cultural fragmentation and, really, dispersion, will have to be personal and not social; indeed, to (finally!) take seriously Christ’s commandment to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.

#11 Comment By M_Young On May 10, 2018 @ 11:16 am

On the national level, all population growth is driven by immigration. I’m pretty sure that even Nebraska has seen a huge increase, in percentage terms, in its ‘Latino’ and Asian populations over the last two decades.

There are of course other trends leading to suburbanization, but immigration is driving overall sprawl, from Metro DC to the interior valleys of California to the Great Plains.

#12 Comment By Ellen On May 10, 2018 @ 11:31 am

My hometown is growing, growing, growing. They are putting up apartments as fast as they can break ground. My friends who love to hunt complain that they can’t find anywhere to hunt anymore since it is all so developed. We have two Wal-Marts and our mall isn’t dead but it’s not at all what it used to be. There is some attempt at revitalizing the downtown, but at night and weekends it is a homeless camp.
Things are getting more and more crowded but the sense of community that I remember from my childhood is no more.

#13 Comment By EliteComminc. On May 10, 2018 @ 11:34 am

In spite of the myriad of complaints and interpretations it garners. I would like to extend my deep appreciation for what you and your family bring to the nation in service and sacrifice.

I deeply appreciate being reminded that the sacrifice is not unique to you lone, but your family as well —

No doubt there will be plenty to fuss about concerning your comments over the next few days. –

powerful.

#14 Comment By EliteComminc. On May 10, 2018 @ 11:37 am

No disrespect to Mr. Van Buren — I am not sure the article’s placement is correct.

#15 Comment By Jon On May 10, 2018 @ 12:18 pm

Indeed, I am chiming in here with very little to say except accolades for this well written blog. I am comforted to know that some military personnel see through this faux jingoism where veterans are paraded for show in our small towns and neighborhoods as though they have protected our freedoms. Soldiers should be honored for their service,but it should be for defending our country and not for carrying out a misguided foreign policy that embroils us in unending conflict overseas.

#16 Comment By Boethius On May 10, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

I can’t help but think that the hero worship of soldiers, the expectation that we can and are winning wars by throwing money at them, and the idea that our freedoms are at stake, are peculiar to conservatives and the heartland. I would subscribe to none of them. But I would also know well enough to keep my thoughts to myself, lest someone accuse me of being an unpatriotic, “blame America first”, lily-livered liberal.

#17 Comment By KarrenBrown On May 10, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

Thank you for a thoughtful essay. Makes me nostalgic for the willingness to discuss hard issues with intellectual rigor that use to be a hallmark of conservative thinking. Not the populist trash jingoism that is fraudulently passing itself off as conservatism. The issues you raise are a common concern with thoughtful people regardless of their political tribe labeling. My label is social democrat, but I agree with everything you wrote.

#18 Comment By Eddie On May 10, 2018 @ 1:04 pm

It spoke volumes when a poll showed most Americans had no opinion to offer regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

What a shocker. Since when are Americans unable, let alone honest enough to concede, to offer an opinion on much of anything?

It’s pretty obvious why – we’re so focused on the culture wars that are Balkanizing the country.

As for what John Bolton said, I certainly empathize with him. I’ve been long critical of American foreign policy and it certainly sounds as though he’s weary of being used as a instrument of national policies that don’t seem to be delivering tangible results. I also empathize with him when he says everyone seems to support the military, but they know so little about it. Meanwhile, nothing seems to getting any better back home.

At the same time, I feel as though this is a norm. People who think conscription will solve our problems are crazy and shouldn’t be taken seriously. More often than not, war has been waged by professionals like John Bolton and it ought to more or less remain that way. The problem is, certainly, the demand – there is no willpower on the part of anybody to draw down our missions, even quietly. For example, what’s with all of these “counter-terror” missions going on in Africa that so few Americans know about?

The sad truth is that it’s going to take a major conflict for Americans to honestly appreciate the service of our warriors and begin demanding the U.S. draw down its presence around the world. Often times, the most important lessons are learned the hard way. Just look at Vietnam – until the last American departed, our leaders were looking for any excuse to stick around and many continue to insist we should’ve stuck around.

#19 Comment By Bryan On May 10, 2018 @ 1:24 pm

Thank you for your service and insightful piece. In light of recent events, I am curious how military families and citizens who consider themselves “pro-military” view the actions of the current administration. Trump ran on an anti-interventionist, anti-nation building platform and many interpreted his rhetoric as isolationist in a way that would be good for military families (no more unnecessary wars; not entirely unlike Obama’s rhetoric), but it seems delusional now to think that we will have less war and deployments under the current administration. If a war breaks out with Iran, or if we become more involved in Syria, or if the peace process on the Korean peninsula fails, etc. what will those voters think?

#20 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On May 10, 2018 @ 3:44 pm

I’m glad at least one of the John Boltons in America isn’t an insane chickenhawk.

So, mind if I write you in on the ballot in 2020?

#21 Comment By Conewago On May 10, 2018 @ 3:57 pm

Mr. Bolton, what a wonderful article you have written.

I am from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – a place where rich farmland, military history, and exurban/suburban pressures all meet as they do in your story.

My family members have worked the land in this county for over 8 generations. I am sorry to hear of that black Nebraska soil blowing away.

The people of this country, having fallen away from religion and having become torn from the real American dream – the dream of a self-sufficient family farm or business – are deeply impoverished.

Our Lord tells us through the gospel of Matthew that we should not store up treasures on this Earth. It is tragic that those who wish to do so anyway destroy the really precious things on this Earth, like good Nebraska soil and Pennsylvania orchards, while they chase gilded crap. Oh well, Watching sprawl eat away the heart of this country gives me a penance to offer to Christ. What a painful penance it is.

It is a cliche, but I thank you for this article and for your service. When I was a boy, I wanted so much to be a U.S. fighting man just like Chesty Puller, Alvin York, and the blue and grey heroes of Gettysburg. Before I could join, I, too, awoke to the troubled realities of our American life. I asked myself, “What I would be serving for?” I found no good answer, so I didn’t join. It was a bitter but instructive disillusionment.

#22 Comment By Conewago On May 10, 2018 @ 4:18 pm

“Has it ever occurred to you, Woodrow, that all the work we done was for bankers and lawyers? Hell, we killed off everybody that made this country interesting!”

– Gus McCrae from Larry McMurtry’s ‘Lonesome Dove’

#23 Comment By usmc0846 On May 10, 2018 @ 4:25 pm

Excellent well written piece, plenty of things to chew on. When I left the USMC in 1966…I took off my uniform, grew my hair and did what I had to in order to slide under anyone’s gaze. It was another 20 years before I stuck any stickers on my car or even remotely acknowledged my generations tussle in VN. Today I’m regularly thanked for my service…it’s well meant I suppose, but I’m always a bit uncomfortable about it too-not my service, just others acknowledgement of it.

Mr. Bolton has, I think, gored a few bulls here, it’s good that he’s getting out in a bit. But he used a few words too that are absolutely spot on…most notably “Tribal”. Sadly that’s what this nation has devolved to and we’re all the lesser for that.

#24 Comment By Nick Stuart On May 10, 2018 @ 6:54 pm

Good statement of the problem. What are the answers?

As to suburban sprawl, people have to live somewhere. Walmart and the other big box stores wouldn’t do what they do if there weren’t demand for it. I’d like to think that somehow we’ll get that sorted out.

As for Iraq and Afghanistan. We should have put paid to Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War. Thank Collin Powell and George H. W. Bush that we didn’t. It’s good we deposed him in the Second Gulf War where, yes, there WERE chemical weapons, and that was only one of over a dozen violations of agreements that formed the basis for the Second Gulf War ( [20]). It’s easy to forget there was overwhelming support from Right, Left, and Center to wage the Second Gulf War (popular outcry is not a good reason for a war, but it’s helpful to remember it had overwhelming popular support from all quarters until it got messy). The problem is how hideously we screwed up managing affairs after Saddam Hussein was deposed (thank George W. Bush and Collin Powell who was back for an encore performance screwing things up). Clearly simply walking away like Barack Obama did in 2012 didn’t work. Simply walking away probably won’t work now. What do we do? Serious question.

Afghanistan should have been a sharp, hard, punitive expedition lasting maybe 18 to 24 months. Pull the tribal leaders together in a big room, don’t let them out until they hash out some way to run the country, and tell them “you don’t want us back. Next time screw the civilian casualties, and we track YOUR location down to the half-meter at all times.” Well, that’s not what we did, can’t unscrew it. Just walking away, like in Iraq, probably will simply make a bad mess worse. What do we do now? Again, serious question?

#25 Comment By Laurence Mardon On May 10, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Beautifully written piece. Yet another justification for shelling-out actual moolah to subscribe to TAC.

#26 Comment By Les Govment On May 10, 2018 @ 11:55 pm

A very impressive article.

The John Bolton in the White house could learn a lot from Officer John Q Bolton. But Bolton in the White House will probably never read this article.

— Les Govment [21]
.

#27 Comment By Tyro On May 11, 2018 @ 7:59 am

Late last year, I was in Alabama accompanying my girlfriend on a business trip. Having never been in the Deep South before, we rented a car and took a drive outside of Birmingham to visit some local restaurants and other places I had read about.

And the area was all pretty much what I was familiar with: shopping centers with a CVS and Target as far as the eye could see.

What I don’t understand is why this is a controversy now. These trends have been in place for 60 years. The population of the USA hit 200 million in the 1960s, and it is 320 million, now, and people have to live somewhere. We decided back in the 1980s that owners of capital were taxed too much and wage earners weren’t taxed enough, so we made it cheap to raise capital to build large retail chains but expensive to make a living working at them due to payroll taxes. The flip side is that the relatively modest salary of military service can pay the mortgage on a big house and lots of stuff for it due to cheap mortgages in those suburbs and inexpensive consumer goods.

Sure, I would like the country to be dotted with cities connected by train or intercity bus to small towns, but when we decided how to best support military veterans coming home from WWII, we decided against that in favor of suburbanization.

#28 Comment By peter in boston On May 11, 2018 @ 9:42 am

There are two big things going on in this great piece. One is foreign: it concerns the cost of US military empire. The other is domestic: It concerns a loss of community, which is the cost of the subsidies in our current development pattern [22]. This piece should be listed under TAC’s NewUrbs heading. It reminds me of the J.H.Kunstler quote: “We have created thousands and thousands of places in America that aren’t worth caring about, and when we have enough of them, we’re going to have a country that’s not worth defending.”

#29 Comment By charrob On May 11, 2018 @ 11:33 am

>>>”After a career fighting them, I can attest that America’s wars are harmful to our people, politics, and liberty—a “form of prolonged ritual suicide.” […] The truth is that America is exhausting itself in internecine wars of choice across the greater Middle East—actions that exacerbate instability. War has bankrupted our nation during a time of effective peace, without any discernible threat comparable to the costs, though the media certainly doesn’t help the public see the threat clearly.”

Why did it take “a career fighting them” for John Q. Bolton to know this? The best thing about a “voluntary” military is that people won’t volunteer for the insanity our politicians have created since 9/11 – which by the way was not a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack is an attack against civilians, like what U.S. backed forces have done in Yemen when they attack wedding parties. 9/11 was blowback against our government for generations of foreign policy that harmed the people of the Middle East: they attacked Wall Street which pays for the wars and U.S. foreign policy, the Pentagon which implements the wars and U.S. foreign policy, and attempted to attack the White House which commands the wars and U.S. foreign policy. It was not an attack against wedding parties like in Yemen or the Mall of America – it was not an attack against civilians; it was an attack against our government. Blowback. Not terrorism.

I’ve long said it’s up to the voluntary military to stop this country’s slaughter of innocents overseas. The paid off politicians will never stop them. And as John Q. Bolton stated, the American people are apathetic about our foreign policy. It’s up to the John Q. Boltons in our military to say: “The buck stops here”, and to have real courage to stop these wars. Stop the recruitment. When people continue to volunteer and then “follow orders”, it harms us all.

Let’s be honest: without U.S. military “help”, the Saudis could not be carrying out their genocide in Yemen. Our military “trains” the Saudis, performs in-air refueling for Saudi bombers who are slaughtering civilians, bombing wedding parties, destroying water treatment facilities which directly led to a cholera epidemic unseen in modern history, helped the Saudis by blockading Yemen ports which resulted in needed food and medicine not getting through, gives the Saudis intelligence, and is sitting in offices right next to Saudis in Riyadh commanding this war. And now we know U.S. Special Forces are in Yemen fighting against Houthis who have never threatened the U.S. and who simply want representation in their government rather than a Saudi puppet commanding their country. Here’s from an article on Yemen: “The military aggression has indirectly killed almost 300,000 civilians, including more than 247,000 children. Most of the people died due to severe malnutrition, some 17,608 because they were unable to get medical treatment. On top of that, the bloody war by the “coalition” on Yemen has also injured more than 300,000 civilians, since it started in March 2015.” [23]

How many *millions* of people rightfully now hate our country because of U.S. Military participation in this genocide?

The buck stops with our military. It’s up to _them_ to stop following unconstitutional orders. It’s up to young men to stop volunteering to become a terrorist. Otherwise as John Q Bolton states, our citizenry’s security and liberty is being irreparably harmed by their actions.

#30 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 11, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

“The flip side is that the relatively modest salary of military service can pay the mortgage on a big house and lots of stuff for it due to cheap mortgages in those suburbs and inexpensive consumer goods.”

That all depends on one’s rank and where one is stationed and for how long as well as what branch of service.

#31 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On May 11, 2018 @ 3:32 pm

Wonderful article and congratulations on the third child.

Tragically, military hero worship has created a separate caste of military professionals: effective, well-trained, and distant.

This is certainly true, nearly everybody I know in the military either has a father that served in Vietnam or the Gulf War part I or is from an immigrant family.

Eddie says:
People who think conscription will solve our problems are crazy and shouldn’t be taken seriously. More often than not, war has been waged by professionals like John Bolton and it ought to more or less remain that way.

What is your argument against conscription? I don’t think conscription is politically tractable and I think it would make the military less efficient, but I think it would create more resistance to prolonged engagement. I don’t view conscription as a method to bolster our military, but as a way to increase our war weariness. I’d love to hear the opinions of those currently serving like Mr Bolton.

It seems the direction our politicians would like to go is towards having what amounts to a mercenary army to minimize any kind of accountability to their constituents, to those fighting, or even for the actions and policies of the military.

#32 Comment By Scott Smith On May 11, 2018 @ 5:33 pm

From a fellow (former) Army aviator:

Assuming you’re an American, by whom would you rather be killed?

(A) an American
(B) a non-American
(C) no preference

If you chose answer (A) you are more likely to support the invasion of foreign countries as a method of reducing your risks of premature death. A cost/benefit analysis of this method would likely produce a much higher cost than other risk-minimizing strategies for prolonging your life (such as lower speed limits). We aren’t terribly upset by Americans killing Americans. But when Americans die in a terrorist attack we’re outraged that they were killed by non-Americans because our national pride is wounded.

(from: [24])

#33 Comment By Sid_finster On May 13, 2018 @ 1:26 pm

@charrob:

Preach!

#34 Comment By Kansas City Phil On May 13, 2018 @ 10:53 pm

The question I kept waiting for in the 2016 election: when will we win the war on terror? And how will we know?

I’m still waiting for the question to be posed to our leaders by our fearless journalists.

I never thought I’d live to see our country become used to a permanent war, but we have. I think this, more than anything, is the biggest change wrought upon our land in the wake of 9-11. This, and the enormous war debts we’ve accrued. And for what?

#35 Comment By Sara Smith On May 15, 2018 @ 7:19 am

Army life is a tough life, There is so much hardship, but you still feel so proud for service your country.

I am in the army for the past 10 years and have multiple deployments overseas. Living away from your family and kids is one of the hardest experience of life.

I will have my retirement soon and planned to spend my time with my family.

I am thankful to you for sharing your story here as it recall my memories of family reunion.