Thursday, May 26, 2005

The New American Militarism, Part I

Democracy Arsenal scoops us this morning with a discussion on Andrew Bacevich and his new book, The New American Militarism.
Issues of war and peace deserve far more congressional attention--says Professor Andrew Bacevich, who is the author of "The New American Militarism" and who I had the opportunity to have a discussion with today. His book outlines worrying trends--both in US policy and society--of the American infatuation with all things military including unrealistic idealization by the public and the mis-match of resources in policy making. The resulting imbalance, he attests, creates both social division as well as an unhealthy environment for the military as an institution in American democracy.

When one works in conjunction with the military and lives inside the Beltway, it is difficult to get a good perspective on just how deeply the culture of war and the military has been infused into the rest of our country. It's worth noting, too, that Americans could gain a lot of very good things by learning from the culture of the modern American military, namely an appreciation of civic responsibility and service as well as an increased tolerance of different religions and ethnicities.

It seems, though, that Bacevich is more concerned with America's current enthusiasm for and glorification of the use of force to solve our foreign policy problems. I look forward to hearing Bacevich speak tonight and plan to buy his book.
-- Eric


Blogger United We Lay said...

I'm far outside the beltway and the military community, but I agree that nationalistic tendencies are dominating American culture at the moment. As a teacher, I see my students struggling with their own learning about the military, the government, and what it really means to be an American. They want to perform a service, but don't want to go into the military (THANK GOD). They don't agree with the war or the nationalist movement. People need to start seeing that the military is not the only way to serve our country.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that polanco vision makes a good point--there are other ways to serve your country admirably. I do not, however, think that the original piece exluded that possibility. I also do not believe that the original piece stated that "nationalistic tendencies are dominating American culture."

Bacevich is really making the point that many in the U.S. have a Hollywood-view of the military, and do not understand the dirty nature of conflict and combat (as referenced by the "unrealistic idealization" noted in the original Arsenal piece). War and combat are ugly, dirty operations and rarely go smoothly.

More to polanco's post, I would credit the author for being a teacher and finding his/her own way to give serve America. I would remind polanco, however, that the military provides more services than simple war-waging (that is glory of our Constitution, in allowing our military great flexibility in operations)

Finally, perhaps to assuage the points made in both the blog and polanco's post, the U.S. should adopt a draft not unlike that of Germany. Draftees may choose either military or civil service, but they must choose one. This would allow polanco's students to avoid the military, and would solve the bloggers goals of breaking down religious, racial, and socio-economic barriers

2:50 PM  
Blogger poster said...

Great points, both of you. I have long agreed with the anonymous commenter: though we may not need a military draft, we should institute a civil service draft that would require recent college graduates to serve for 1-2 years.

3:19 PM  

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