Posted by Lex, on October 1, 2010
Speaking at Duke University, Defense Secretary Robert Gates bewails the increasingly narrow strata of society * from whence our volunteer military is drawn:
The United States is at risk of developing a cadre of military leaders who are cut off politically, culturally and geographically from the population they are sworn to protect, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told an audience at Duke University on Wednesday night.
In a speech aimed at addressing what he sees as a growing disconnect between the country as a whole and the relatively few who fight its wars, Mr. Gates said that although veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were embraced when they came home, “for most Americans the wars remain an abstraction — a distant and unpleasant series of news items that do not affect them personally.”
Even after Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Gates said, “in the absence of a draft, for a growing number of Americans, service in the military, no matter how laudable, has become something for other people to do.”
The secretary goes on to state that no one today takes seriously the idea of re-instituting mandatory military service of the kind recommended by Samuel Huntington in his seminal “The Soldier and the State.” He is left instead waving casual swipes at elite academic institutions: Harvard expelled ROTC units from campus during the passions of Vietnam era protests and now serenely declines to countenance military-sponsored education for its students until the military comports itself to Harvard’s policy preferences.
For my own part, I’m left to wonder whether another twenty-five or so officers per year trading crimson cap and gown for combat gear will fundamentally alter the national chemistry that SecDef finds dangerous. While noting that the military, with its ethos of duty, honor and country has not so much pulled away from California and the northeast so much as those enclaves have pulled away from the military’s core values.
04-22-18 – Link changed – Ed.