10.13.2005

On A Realistic View of the Military

A couple of days ago, Roger Morris and Steve Schmidt published the essay "Strategic Demands of the 21st Century: A New Vision for a New World" at CounterPunch. The last paragraph of the piece reads:
A new vision for a new world will require the most comprehensive rethinking of foreign policy and national security, of America and its role in the world, we have ever undertaken as a people. If we are to be a free and secure society in the 21st century, the moment demands nothing less.
I couldn't agree more. I am as radical left and as anti-war as I can get. I hate violence. I hope that someday the human race will get to a point where any person or group or country who tries to make war will be swiftly and surely punished by a World Court.

Having said that, I think the far left tends to be rather muddle-headed when it comes to things and people military. I can remember landing at Zurich airport in the 80s at a time when airline and airport bombings were happening in Athens and other places. Walking through the terminal to the train station, I noticed immediately that there were a lot of soldiers around, in pairs, armed with machine guns. I have never felt safer in my life. Conversely, one would be hard-put to locate even one cop on duty at my city's central bus terminal. I'm nervous every time I go there.

Although I realize that our military under the command of the Doubleduh-Cheney Gang could easily be the instrument of brutal suppression of our rights here in the US - remembering, as I do often, the Kent State murders by a panicky National Guard unit - I think we are extremely naive and unrealistic in our attitude toward our military.

I'm speaking specifically of the knee-jerk reaction of many of my friends to the notion of the military being in charge of disaster relief. Think about the abject failure of civilian response before, during, and after Katrina. It's still happening, by the way: thousands of camper trailers sitting in some FEMA yard somewhere, while folks are still living in the damn Astrodome. Contrast that with the tireless and nearly flawless responses of the Coast Guard and National Guard.

With some notable exceptions, I am impressed by the professionalism, integrity, and dedication of our military. My admiration rises significantly when I think about how our government (and, by extension, our citizens) exploits, abuses, and abandons our armed forces.

Morris and Schmidt speak of some of the challenges that we face now:
Geo-political: The immediate necessity to break free of the pyrrhic war in Iraq and the mutually ruinous complicity with Israel's expansionist tragedy, and at the same time to defuse sectarian terrorism at its source, stem clear and present nuclear dangers, end our addiction to peaking foreign oil already intolerably ransomed by lives as well as treasure, and altogether restore the integrity of American foreign policy and the loss of international respect for our word and purposes, a loss as lethal as any threat we face.

Geo-environmental: Urgent planetary mobilization to meet the crises upon us from climate change, ecosystem degradation, and resource exhaustion. In ice and thaw, flood and drought, famine and disease, the predictable collapses and social-economic disruptions from environmental reckonings will plague continents with domestic upheavals and international armed confrontations, what a Pentagon study calls "a world of warring states," as threatening and likely as any military or terrorist strike. As with those other attacks, environmental blows may come abruptly, or over time. However, unlike human threats, which statesmanship may avert, some ecological onslaught is now inevitable, as we have seen so graphically and poignantly with the tragedy and governmental-political disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. We must cope immediately with attacks already underway, as well as reversing the reversible, preventing or defending against future assaults.
The shame is that criminal governments (not just the Doubleduh-Cheney Gang) pushing our military into criminal wars like VietNam and Iraq weaken our military and erode our national defense.

I feel extremely vulnerable with our military concentrated in Asia. On the other hand, all things being how they are, I could easily get used to seeing a couple of armed soldiers walking through my neighborhood every hour or so. Scare the shit outta the fuckin crack dealers three blocks over.

A truely populist and progressive government would benefit greatly by a military trained in the real protection of all citizens - here at home.