Monday, April 5, 2021

Extremism In The Military

 In a couple of other posts to this blog I have mentioned this, but with the current "stand down" that is underway I want to mention it again.

In the days of the military draft if your father was President you could get into the National Guard; in those days the National Guard generally didn't go to Vietnam so being in the Guard was a pretty good deal.

Or if your father had a lot of money he could buy a doctor who would say that you had debilitating bone spurs.

If you were just a garden variety American you were pretty well screwed as far going into the military; the draft made it nearly certain that you were going to go; so the game quickly became one of making the best you could make of a bad deal.

The way you did that was you volunteered for military service as far from the Marines or the Army Infantry as you could get; you were probably going to Vietnam, but if you were in the Air Force or the Navy or the Coast Guard you probably were not going to be in gun toting combat.

The demographic result of that phenomenon was significant.

It was as if a giant scoop had reached down into the mass of young Americans and indiscriminately put them in uniform: we were all colors, all  religions, all geographies, all economic levels, all education levels, and all levels of prestige among the educational institutions that we were products of.

That's as heterogenous as a human population can be.

On the surface of it one would have thought that such an amalgam would be the basis for a socio-economic race riot; what it was in fact was a unified group of young Americans who got a lot mutually accomplished in the midst of what was at best a bad deal.

That's an analogue of the American Story.

The all volunteer military changed that.

Without the draft it's easy for America to indulge in never ending wars: if the kids don't have to go to war, they don't riot and burn their draft cards and their parents don't get up in arms about invading places like Iraq.

What happens instead is an act of dangerous sub-optimization: in general the young people who volunteer for military service are those who have few, or perceive that they have few, alternatives.

In general they sound a lot like trump's "base".

If that is generally true the downstream implications of that fact include the existence of a military sown with the seeds of an overthrow of our government.

I don't think we can bring the draft back quickly enough to fix that problem.

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