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Where Are the Brave Military Voices Against Forever War?

But they’ve been taught the way to do it

Like Christian soldiers; not with haste

And shuddering groans; but passing through it

With due regard for decent taste

 —Siegfried Sassoon, How to Die (1918)

It is my favorite moment. Of World War I, that is. The one that stays with me.

Christmas, 1914: Nearly a million men are already dead, and the war is barely four months old.  Suddenly, and ultimately in unison, the opposing German and British troops begin singing Christmas carols. At first light, German troops emerge unarmed from their trenches, and walk out into “no-man’s land.” Despite fearing a ruse, the Brits eventually joined their sworn enemies in the churned earth between the trench lines. Carols were sung, gifts of cigarettes exchanged—one man even brought out a decorative tree. It only happened once. Though the bloody, senseless war raged across three more Christmases, the officers on each side quashed future attempts at a holiday truce. And yet, for that brief moment, in the ugliest of circumstances, the common humanity of Brits and Germans triumphed. It must have been beautiful.

[1]Ultimately, nearly ten million men would die in battle. For all that, little was settled. It rarely is.  The ruling classes still ruled, the profiteers profited, and Europe went to war again not twenty years later. So it went, and so it goes.


Nonetheless, World War I boasted countless skeptics and anti-war activists both in and out of uniform. Their poetry and prose was dark, but oh was it ever powerful. Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen from the Brits; Erich Maria Remarque for the stoic Germans; and our own Ernest Hemingway. A lost generation, which sacrificed so much more than youth: their innocence. They call to us, these long dead dissenters, from the grave.

They might ask: Where are today’s skeptical veterans? Tragically, silence is our only ready response.

It was not always so in America. During the brutal Seminole Indian Wars, 17 percent of army officers resigned in disgust rather than continue burning villages and hunting natives down like dogs in Florida’s Everglades’ swamps. Mark Twain’s cheeky prose demolished the Philippine-American colonial war at the turn of the century (some 30 years after he briefly served in the Missouri state militia during the Civil War). Hemingway, laid the truth bare after being wounded in the First Great War while serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver. And Major General Smedley Butler—two-time Medal of Honor recipient though he was—emerged from the Caribbean “Banana Wars” to admit he’d been naught but a “high class muscle man for Big Business,” a “gangster for capitalism.”  

For all the celebration (and mythologizing) over World War II, at least we had Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller to burst our comfortable, patriotic bubble. And, though it likely lost him the presidency, Senator John Kerry (and his Vietnam Vets against the War mates) showed the courage to testify to the truth in the Winter Soldier Hearings.

Today, despite a few brave attempts, we are treated to nothing of the sort. Why, you ask?

To begin with, most of the above mentioned wars were fought by draftees, militiamen, and short-term volunteers: in other words, citizen-soldiers. Even now, the identity of “citizen-soldier” ought to emphasize the former term: citizen. It doesn’t. Now, as we veterans are constantly reminded, we are warriors. Professionals. Hail Sparta!

In 2017, it’s near impossible to remember that today’s professional, volunteer army is less than half a century old, a product of epic failure in Vietnam. Most of America’s Founding Fathers, after all, scorned standing armies and favored a body of august, able citizen-soldiers. Something more akin to our National Guard. Deploy these men to faraway lands, so the thinking went, and each town would lose its blacksmith, carpenter, and cobbler too. Only vital interests warranted such sacrifice. Alas, it is no longer so.

In truth, the “citizen-soldier” is dead, replaced—to the sound of cheers—by self-righteous subalterns hiding beneath the sly veil of that ubiquitous corporate idiom: professionalism.  Discipline, motivation, teamwork—these are all sleek, bureaucratic terms certain to mold terrific middle managers, but they remain morally bare. And, ultimately, futile.

So today, my peers are silent. Professional officers are volunteers; dissenters are seen as little more than petulant whiners, or oddball nuts. It is hard to know why, exactly, but the increasing cognitive and spatial distance of contemporary soldiers from society at large seems a likely culprit. Combine that with the Republican Party’s veritable monopoly on the political loyalties of the officer corps and you have yourself a lethal combination.

Only don’t rule out cowardice. Who isn’t fearful for their career, income, and family stability? It is only natural.  After all, this business—despite protestations to the contrary—does not tend to value intellectualism or creative thinking. Trust me. Besides, in this struggling transitory economy, the military “welfare state” is a tempting option for America’s declining middle class. Ironic, isn’t it, that the heavily conservative officer corps loves their socialized medicine and guaranteed pensions?

Under the circumstances, perhaps silence is understandable. But it is also complicity.

By now, the wars are lost, if ever they were winnable. Iraq will fracture, Syria collapse, and Afghanistan wallow in perpetual chaos. It will be so. The people will forget. Our professional, corporate regiments will, undoubtedly, add banners to their battle flags—sober reminders of a job well done in yet another lost cause. Soldiers will toast to lost comrades, add verses to their ballads, and precious few will ask why.

Perhaps a good officer suppresses such doubt, maintains a stoic, if dour, dignity, and silently soldiers on. As for me, I am not made of such stuff, and more’s the pity. I buried seven men in the fields of the Forever War, casualties of combat and the muted sufferings of suicide.

Their banal sacrifice demands explanation. They deserve as much.

For those lonely few, we who publicly dissent, the audience is scant, interest meagre, and our existence: solitary.

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular [2], is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and wrote a memoir, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge [3]Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet [4].

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.)

*** This article has been edited to reflect Mark Twain’s brief stint in the Missouri state militia, not the regular Confederate army; and the fact that Ernest Hemingway served the Red Cross during World War I.

49 Comments (Open | Close)

49 Comments To "Where Are the Brave Military Voices Against Forever War?"

#1 Comment By Dale On September 18, 2017 @ 11:55 pm

Bravo. A man who understands reality and refuses to allow the corporate world to brainwash him.

#2 Comment By John Blade Wiederspan On September 19, 2017 @ 12:13 am

A word I rarely use, haven’t used it in decades, and yet, it is the only one that truly reflects my response to this article: Amen.

#3 Comment By Papa88 On September 19, 2017 @ 1:22 am

The article, a lament.
With no solution.
Prayers for peace? like a prayer wheel turning for centuries.
The President is doing it right with N. Korea, it may work.
But with the crazed Muslims?
Come Lord Jesus.

#4 Comment By David Jones On September 19, 2017 @ 2:48 am

Thank you for posting this. We cannot continue with endless conflicts. Each one gestating the seeds of the next until eventually there’s nothing left of civilization. Unfortunately, it seems many are unable to see past the short term implications of their actions, or they simply don’t care. I would not be surprised if the current administration escalated the NK situation further with rhetoric on their side in order to help sell those ‘beautiful’ weapon defenses, they certainly have been successful in this so far.

#5 Comment By Jon S On September 19, 2017 @ 7:55 am

Thank you Major. You may be alone amongst our weakened officer corps. But you are decidedly not alone among your fellow Americans.

#6 Comment By Uncle Billy On September 19, 2017 @ 8:16 am

This cranky, old Marine has noticed that many of the most militant and blood thirsty neo-cons never actually served themselves. They have never seen up close the fruits of their war mongering: dead burning bodies, crippled young men and other horrors. Yeah, just drop some bombs and our problems go away. When they are ready to walk point on a patrol in Afghanistan, risking life and limb, then they can be neo-cons.

#7 Comment By Tyro On September 19, 2017 @ 9:03 am

This has been going on for 16 years. Odds are if you signed up for the military, you supported this– you knew what the situation was like going in, and you signed up.

To dissent, you would have to have convinced yourself that you supported US military policy, signed up for the military, spend several years seeing what was going on, and then admit you and your colleagues were wrong. That’s not going to happen.

The problem with the professional military is that the only perspective they experience is their own. Then we are also told how “the military feels” about one policy or another, not acknowledging that the reason they might have a feeling that differs from public opinion is because the overall public isn’t in the military, and thus their opinions don’t count as “military” ones alongside the career groups who signed up because they supported those policies in the first place.

I hear lots of people complain that not enough people volunteer for the military because they feel that if more did, the citizenry would have more of a military culture. I think more people should enter the military briefly so that the military gets in closer touch with the rest of American culture.

#8 Comment By Citizen516 On September 19, 2017 @ 9:27 am

In his recent book The Limits Of Power, Andrew Bacevich reports that the citizen soldier is considered unaffordable by the the military as a sustainable policy, with costs topping a trillion dollars.
“Even if the bodies needed to fill such a force exist, the money doesn’t. Nor does the military want those bodies, except on very specific terms….When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the draftees of prior wars as having added “no value, no advantage really,” he may have violated some canon of political correctness, but he accurately
reflected prevailing Pentagon opinion.”
The military may think the citizen soldier is as risky as the
“unembedded” journalist… he/she is more likely to report and reflect upon what he/she sees, and to draw undesirable conclusions.

#9 Comment By Fred Bowman On September 19, 2017 @ 11:02 am

Empires don’t want “citizens-soldiers” as Wars are “the business” of Empire and “citizen-soldiers” are a “Pain in the Ass” to that “business”. Bottom line, in an “Up or out” corporatize military one keeps one mouth shut and goes “with the flow”. Meanwhile the Republic rots away.

#10 Comment By Anonne On September 19, 2017 @ 11:06 am

Thank you for this eloquent piece.

#11 Comment By John Gruskos On September 19, 2017 @ 11:14 am

Neither Smedley Butler, no any other independent thinking officer, would ever conceivably be allowed to serve 20 years and become eligible for a pension, much less become a general, in today’s US military.

Support for the uniparty platform (open borders, cultural liberalism, wars for Israel, and plutocracy) is a prerequisite for promotion.

#12 Comment By MikeCLT On September 19, 2017 @ 11:49 am

Keep writing, sir. More are listening than you think.

#13 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 19, 2017 @ 11:58 am

I really enjoyed this article. profound.

I have to express my view that Vietnam, dspite the hype was really a noble cause. And if I ever get well, I would love to lecture on healing the misguided wounds we have needlessly and conveniently subjected on our veterans.

Cheers on a very moving article and I am not one easily moved.

Low blow starting out with WWI Christas incident,


#14 Comment By Garry Kelly On September 19, 2017 @ 12:21 pm

Excellent. Worth the Read.

#15 Comment By Sal On September 19, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

“Where Are the Brave Military Voices Against Forever War?”

“this business—despite protestations to the contrary—does not tend to value intellectualism or creative thinking.”

“Besides, in this struggling transitory economy, the military “welfare state” is a tempting option for America’s declining middle class. Ironic, isn’t it, that the heavily conservative officer corps loves their socialized medicine and guaranteed pensions?”

“Combine that with the Republican Party’s veritable monopoly on the political loyalties of the officer corps and you have yourself a lethal combination.”

The only missing component to the above nauseating realities is the one where the corporate military overwhelmingly woos even GED failures and illegal immigrants — the latter void of American ideals, and the former void of cognition of these moral ideals

#16 Comment By Robert Charron On September 19, 2017 @ 12:31 pm

Speaking out is not good for one’s career.

#17 Comment By Michael N Moore On September 19, 2017 @ 1:14 pm

As University of Washington professor Rebecca U. Thorpe points out in “The American Warfare State”, her definitive study of the political economy of military spending, Congress will never stop any president from going to war because a significant majority of House Members represent districts that are economically dependent on military spending. The arms industry cherry picks or creates sub-contractors in ex-urban and rural areas where they become the monopoly employer. This particularly impacts Republicans. There is effectively no longer any check on Presidential war powers and the politics of constant war follow.

What the soldiers think is of little consequence. There are always plenty of replacements from “Places you never heard of”.

#18 Comment By Someone in the crowd On September 19, 2017 @ 2:53 pm

I was with you until the line “the wars are lost, if ever they were winnable. Iraq will fracture, Syria collapse, and Afghanistan wallow in perpetual chaos.”

Destroying these places was always seen as a likely, and not undesirable end state by those who saw to it that these wars were fought in the first place (and I am not referring to flunkies in the State Dept.).

Sure, if, by some miracle, these tribal places had signed up to become honorary Puerto Ricos, no one would have complained. But neocons, however morally corrupt, are not stupid. They expected exactly what these nations got. Or what? You thought it was about terrorism, or weapons of mass destruction?

#19 Comment By b. On September 19, 2017 @ 3:30 pm

“Discipline, motivation, teamwork—these are all sleek, bureaucratic terms certain to mold terrific middle managers, but they remain morally bare.”

This reminds me of a biting observation from that other nation of “citizen-soldiers”, called forth in direct response to “following orders” all too well. An entire generation of German politicians, led by the capable Helmut Schmidt, sold itself, with some justification, as the nation’s leading professionals, nothing more than the highest-ranking civil servants, but overdid the act. As one opponent pointed out, punctuality, thoroughness and reliability are just as desirable in someone guarding a concentration camp, and should thus rightly be considered “secondary virtues”. It is the mold from which Eichmanns are taylored.

The citizen soldier ultimately proves himself in the refusal of orders he perceives as illegal. Without this ultimate responsibility, military professionalism is nothing more than the prostitute handmaiden of a mechanical act of service devoid of honor. Wehrmacht soldiers were undoubtedly brave and professional, but in the end they were just that, and not brave enough – especially those East Prussia junkers at the top.

Of course, the same holds for the citizen that “supports the troops” to indulge in a dereliction of constitutional duty – to hold, immediately and loudly, accountable those, like Bush and Obama, that break their oath on the Constitution and their obligations to the soldiers in the nation’s service.

There might or might not be prominent dissenters among the veterans, there certainly are no Senator Gravels in the current lot, even those like McCain or, in his term, Kerry, that should well know better. There are certainly scant citizens eager to listen to dissent – one of the most dispiriting moments of the past decades was the dispersion of the so-called anti-war movement at the beginning of Obama’s term – or maybe the fact that it never re-appeared through eight years, straight into a Clinton primary in which not even Sanders questioned US interventionism – certainly not even as much as Trump did. It is bad enough to see a nation of law acquiesce to the crime of Iraq, to see it approve of Libya, Syria, Yemen and consider North Korea is a sign that even an all-volunteer military ultimately can only reflect the rot at the heart of the nation.

#20 Comment By John On September 19, 2017 @ 3:36 pm

The change in the nature of the modern military is not unlike the change in the nature of the Roman military. As it became increasingly less Roman, it became increasingly involved in politics, to the point where the Emperor served only at the pleasure of the military.

Are we to that point yet? Trump, after all, did run on a platform of scaling back on foreign wars and entanglements, yet we see a presidency that has taken a 180 degree turn. Change of heart or being told the truth about the grassy knoll?

The military itself, being a product of civilian largess, cannot maintain forever, either. Roman taxation squeezed the people to where living in barbarian lands was generally more attractive that continuing to remain within Roman borders. Are we there yet? We would be very close to a balanced budget if spending dropped to what would be needed for defense, with a heavy part-time component.

However, we are intractably locked into the Course of Empire, being somewhere between the third and fourth panel. The voices of citizens do not really matter any more, so there is not much left but to stand aside and try to avoid the perhaps literal fallout.

#21 Comment By Allen On September 19, 2017 @ 3:41 pm

I agree with the basics of the article, especially since I saw first-hand the failed attempt to create a democracy in Iraq.

But don’t think for a minute things would be any better if anyone other than Trump were in the White House. This is not a “Republican thing”. Hillary was a complete war hawk and couldn’t care less about dead patriots. “What difference does it make?” Bernie couldn’t control a rally, much less an army. The neo-cons and never-Trumpers are completely owned by the war machine.

As the Major says, we have no one qualified to lead us out of our futile wars. And so we stay, and die.

#22 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 19, 2017 @ 3:41 pm

Republicanism an officer problem that feeds the wars? Today’s leftist Democrats are comfortable with, nay, militantly for, a burgeoning imperial military footprint, as long as LGBTQ advocacy is enforced along with equal-opportunity killing for the empire.

#23 Comment By One Guy On September 19, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

Excellent article.

#24 Comment By Rossbach On September 19, 2017 @ 5:51 pm

Our nation is lost unless it can find a way to subordinate the Department of Defense to its only legitimate mission – the actual defense of the US.

#25 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 19, 2017 @ 6:33 pm

“They expected exactly what these nations got. Or what? You thought it was about terrorism, or weapons of mass destruction?”

No. The neoconservative position is very clear.

They intend to force democratization which they think will breed healthier economies and more peaceful states. When they say, democratizing the world they mean it.

Don’t mistake the destructive method for the goal. I think the goal against the method is extremely problematic at best and likely to fail and backfire at worst.

Perhaps there is only worst.

#26 Comment By Rich On September 19, 2017 @ 8:23 pm

Forget Neville Chamberlain at your own peril! Bemoan not the poor soldier, but the politicians that refuse to allow them to conduct their business without restraint for war is brutal, not restrained, all the more reason not to wage it. However, there are some whom care not for fellow man and initiate war for nefarious and silly reasons that require a response from righteous souls to end the carnage.

#27 Comment By J Harlan On September 19, 2017 @ 9:40 pm

Just an idea. Get rid of service academies. Do you really expect to get any outlook than what we get from organizations who are usually run by people who have attended the same three military academies? If you wanted uniform uncritical thinking West point et al would be stage one wouldn’t they?

#28 Comment By john On September 19, 2017 @ 10:48 pm

It takes courage at the political level to not have a war. The president that gets us out of Afghanistan will go down in history as having “lost”.

#29 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 19, 2017 @ 11:37 pm

“This has been going on for 16 years. Odds are if you signed up for the military, you supported this– you knew what the situation was like going in, and you signed up . . .”

I et the point here, but a soldier never really knows until he (or she) is on sight and in the muck. A soldier is told here’s the enemy. He is told to fight the enemy and then discovers te mission is not quite as clear.

It’s fight the enemy

It’s build rappaort

It’s create a democracy

It’s this and it’s that . . .
Oooops, no weapons of mass destruction.

We enlist our troops to fight for a cause but when that cause is layed wanton before their very eyes — well,

they aren’t stupid. There’s ws no way priat so ad so who enlisted before Sept 11 or even soon there after.

Now the mission is completely different in both arenas. Trust me they , you or I simply cannot know. I opposed te war, but as many others, but that required a lot of listening, reading and asking hard questions.

One would think that nearly every senior level enlisted and officer raking member would be near up in arms at what is happening since 2000 maybe before.

But when and outside looking in, I am not sure we want a military willing to do so. This business of civilian control is very serious and God protect us — should the day arrive and when they say (intellectual “Seven Days in May is intriguing — however –)


#30 Comment By N. Joseph Potts On September 20, 2017 @ 12:57 am

This article clearly states profound truths that tragically aren’t even suspected among most of the millions (of Americans) affected by and responsible for it.

#31 Comment By Chuck K On September 20, 2017 @ 7:27 am

I am someone who has lived the cognitive dissonance of fighting a war that I did not believe in politically.

I believe that a large part of the reason that US soldiers have not protested is that on a personal level the enemy in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan has been nearly inhuman. You cannot compare the morality at the soldier level of ethnic cleansing in Florida with capture/kill of ISIS, Taliban, or the Mahdi Militia. Upon arriving in theatre it is quite clear that although the political reasoning for the war is probably immoral, the persons that we are being asked to kill assuredly need killing. As well, I am certain from the four-star level down to the “strategic corporal,” we have spent a fortune in blood and treasure in trying to get the right enemy killed to the extent of deliberately endangering our own troops. This is why much of the protest that has occurred is of the “why weren’t we unleashed” variety. Further the greater chance of being killed drives up protest because reasonable people don’t want to die and in our current wars that chance is minuscule in comparison to WW1/2, Korea and even Vietnam.

So while I completely agree that “war is a racket,” I also believe that a significant culling needs to occur amongst the murderous Islamist leadership and that one can facilitate that culling while in the employ of the racketeers at relatively minimal risk to oneself. So I executed the emperor’s business in as moral a way as violence can be moral and I sleep quite well at night despite the violence and not protesting.

De Opresso Liber

#32 Comment By JDo On September 20, 2017 @ 7:37 am

The brave military voices are where the good German were

#33 Comment By the blame-e On September 20, 2017 @ 7:48 am

Didn’t the military on our side want to line-up all the Christmas pacifists of 1914 and have them shot?

It took a week for the “Christmas Truce” to show up in any of the media. The “New York Times” (when the “New York Times” was still a real newspaper manned by real journalists), was the first to break the story. The Christmas Truce of 1914 was flat-out censored almost everywhere else.

After World War I it became a corps martial offense for a combat soldier to “fraternize with the enemy.” So, after 1914, that was that.

From Endless War the U.S. Military Industrial Complex, the Corporate Oligarchs, and these professional politicians, along with all the war-mongers will proceed to Total War very soon — just like with Nazi Germany. Because Endless War just isn’t good enough. You watch.

However, you cannot keep a nation on an endless war footing forever. The people go nuts. We are seeing this today. But will these war-mongers change their ways? H*ll no! These fool idiots never reform; they always double down.

Hopefully, with the same results. total war always ends the same way: in total destruction. After World War II, Germany ceased to exist. Germany did not just lose World War II. Germany lost its very soul. The German people have been easy pickings — financialization by the U.S., for the peaceful conquest of Germany by migrants, and radicalized Muslim extremists.

Same thing here in the U.S. These idiots would destroy a country without remorse. Look at our hollowed out economy just so the war-mongers can have their latest toys. They would destroy a whole way of life without a second thought. Tanks in U.S. streets. The militarization of police forces. They would destroy Western Civilization in a heart beat if it would add more gold to their coffins (sic). We are seeing all this play out before us.

These war-mongers would destroy a whole world just so they can have their little wars.

#34 Comment By brians On September 20, 2017 @ 10:08 am

Excellent article, but to all my fellow anti-imperialists: read up on Orwell’s essays. We can despise the empire, but whatever replaces the empire is likely to be far worse. Of course, though, America is no Britain.

#35 Comment By SteveK9 On September 20, 2017 @ 11:53 am

Thanks to Russia, Syria will not collapse.

#36 Comment By Rudi Mattoni On September 20, 2017 @ 12:32 pm

Major, thank you. It is always good to know that there are a few like you around. I’ve found this generally the case for most organizations and places. Unfortunately the less well endowed morally are so rare. Keep on fighting.

#37 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 20, 2017 @ 1:33 pm

“You cannot compare the morality at the soldier level of ethnic cleansing in Florida with capture/kill of ISIS, Taliban, or the Mahdi Militia.”

Those who decide to fight foreign invaders will not be peaceful missionaries, but the effectiveness doctrine of warfare will demand the most cut-throat be elevated by war to prominence.

The similarity is in foreign invaders occupying someone else’s hereditary lands.

The difference in historical evaluation is determined by the victors writing the history.

#38 Comment By George Hoffman On September 20, 2017 @ 1:45 pm

Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam (31 May 1967 – 31 May 1968), I became a card-carrying skeptic about war. All I learned in Vietnam was: Never trust the brass and even more so the suits that sent us there. That still holds true. But now we have all these chicken hawks who love these wars as long they and their children don’t have fight in them. They target economically deprived kids to fight these wars. But even that pool of willing cannon fodder will not last, so we have this mercenary army who will fight for the highest bidder. And like the Roman Empire this trend will further undermine and semblance of a functioning democracy in our country. The empire is slowly collapsing upon its internal contradictions and stresses until we have a country which resembles a banana republic.

#39 Comment By William the Conkedout On September 20, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

Just do what Israel tells us and we’ll all be fine.

#40 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 20, 2017 @ 4:44 pm

” The empire is slowly collapsing upon its internal contradictions and stresses until we have a country which resembles a banana republic.”

I sometimes wonder why God hasn’t ended the matter. But the truth is the US still has immense value to the world. I think you are correct these are perilous ties. And the answers are not about looking outward either in slaying threat-less demons or rescuing illegal immigrants and refugees.. I believe and have since september 11, we need to take a deep breath and deal with us as a people.

Whether it Hollywood, Washington, wall street or intellectual regime changer cackling about the fears of isolationism our deepest wants rest at home and I think we should spend several years tending to them.

I also lean heavily on returning the draft and the pledge of allegience.

#41 Comment By Tomonthebeach On September 20, 2017 @ 5:54 pm

Back in the 1970’s, much of the eliminate-the-draft rhetoric derived from the perception that the draft was racist. It was in the sense that the white Donald Trumps of that era could easily obtain deferments whereas Blacks, being less-well off, could not. Nevertheless, demographically, the pre-draft service members looked a lot more like the racial and economic distribution of the US population than it does today.

When I entered the Navy in 1968, my pay was less than I made at my part-time job in college. There was no question that you were serving your country and not your standard of living. By the time I retired 32 years later, I was making a comfortable income. Uniformed service pay soared after the draft ended to ensure an adequate force size.

One could argue that the change in service member compensation has replaced the coercion of the draft with that of the coercion of economic need. Has this changed the influence of patriotism on military service? Has this contributed to our never-ending wars?

#42 Comment By Bruce B On September 20, 2017 @ 6:09 pm

@george Hoffman
“The empire is slowly collapsing upon its internal contradictions and stresses until we have a country which resembles a banana republic.”
…with nuclear weapons. Those are some ripe bananas.

#43 Comment By Raymond On September 20, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

Sal stated —- The only missing component to the above nauseating realities is the one where the corporate military overwhelmingly woos even GED failures and illegal immigrants — the latter void of American ideals, and the former void of cognition of these moral ideals.

IMHO we have been set up thru indoctrination of our schools, then with collapse of markets — where else can employment be had? Many did not get a skill or trade during this educational process.

I seldom speak of war or sanctions that come up in discussions because of been there done that. Sick business a complete loss.

#44 Comment By Eileen Kuch On September 20, 2017 @ 8:24 pm

The problem here, George, is that history’s been written by the victors, and is more likely than not, be false history.
Afghanistan’s never been conquered in its entire history; not one invading force succeeded. Why? All one need do is look at the terrain itself .. It’s quite mountainous and dotted with caves; thus, making the terrain itself quite inhospitable. On top of the hostile terrain are the diverse, warring tribes who inhabit this terrain. They’re ferocious, have been for centuries.
Just the Afghan conundrum alone explains the late Spanish writer/historian’s famous quote of “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. And, another quote comes to mind as well. It says “Insanity is doing the same actions over and over and over again and expecting different results”. This is especially in the case of Afghanistan. Trump knows it’s a waste of lives, time and money to continue this insanity in Afghanistan .. The Soviets did likewise, spending 10 years trying to subjugate the Afghans, but to no avail. By the time they finally left, it was already too late .. The USSR collapsed and broke apart.

#45 Comment By Paul Jurczak On September 20, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Thank you, sir. We desperately need more voices like yours.

#46 Comment By Fayez Abedaziz On September 20, 2017 @ 11:12 pm

How about taking a look around y’all at today’s citizenry?
Man, what a difference between now and the mid-60’s to the mid-70’s:
one could have a discussion about Vietnam, say, with people on a campus, in a student center/cafeteria, or even in a coffee shop/restaurant and there was give and take.
Not all were open to this view or that, but compared to now people were not afraid to talk.
These days, if you mention the weather, it’s as if you said something controversial…hell, if you said hi to someone today, they either ignore you or give you a funny look.
Rather than advancing in knowledge about the nation’s happening’s the American people are disgustingly ignorant and shallow, inauthentic human beings.
When you have the U.S.A. slaughtering people around the world,
yet you look around you, Dems or Repubs they don’t know or care about foreign policy…well, I for one say: what a bunch of weasels American men are-Clint Eastwood used another word-and he is right.
The females are confused and dumb.
Look at the media. What a joke, where are you Jennings and Cronkite…
I’ll tell you, if we knew, in the 60’s, that rather than be more free in giving our opinion and more free from huge government and intrusion in our privacy and how accepting Americans are with whatever the cheap, cowardly Congress/Senate does, we would say, you’re kidding…America is gonna regress..?
Look. Compare a John Kennedy with the clowns in government now.
Where are there more Tom Haydens, and yes, even an Abbie Hoffman? Or Daniel Ellsberg, eh? Why don’t more former military people speak out?
But then…
to whom, well, to the weirdo public? Ha ha
Many of us thank the author of this article: He has a Conscience and Guts.

#47 Comment By Alexkad On September 21, 2017 @ 10:03 am

The United States in social and political development lags behind reality. This causes irreconcilable contradictions in the society. Therefore, the country can not stop and end the war. War is the first means of reducing the contradictions in society.
But in order to stop, you need to find a balance in society. And for this it is necessary to liberate people, to ensure social justice and reduce the imperious coercion to the American way of life. Hence the United States is possible a social revolution.
Guys! You are behind the times!

#48 Comment By Allen On September 21, 2017 @ 11:24 am

We could stop this tomorrow with a few simple steps:

1) Reinstate the draft

2) Start with the children of politicians, generals and lobbyists

3) Put them on the front lines

Surprise! No more war! When Senators’ kids have to participate in the Afghan Hunger Games, that’s when the war machine will stop.

#49 Comment By Nilco1 On September 21, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

Great article, let’s bring back the draft!