Some prima facie unpatriotic thoughts over on the Patch. Some musings that didn’t make it, aka wormholes I thought about but couldn’t weave in. None are fully fleshed out but the begins of ordering some thoughts.
If anything, Chris Hayes asked us to challenge our assumptions about the military and what it’s used for. If someone came to your house and stole your children to fight overseas, if we didn’t have an all-volunteer force, I do think Americans would ask harder questions of their political leadership. I’m not advocating for reintroduction of the draft (our military is successful because it is so highly professionalized, even moving “admin” functions like cooking to the private sector so it can concentrate on effective fighting) but I do believe the current worship of the military is a direct result of the military-civilian divide.
We live in a county where a noted foreign policy expert, Aaron David Miller, wrote in Foreign Policy “What has emerged in the second decade after 9/11 is a remarkable consensus among Democrats and Republicans on a core approach to the nation’s foreign policy. It’s certainly not a perfect alignment. But rarely since the end of the Cold War has there been this level of consensus.” There is not an effective dissent on where and when to engage militarily. Fortunately, most of the consensus foreign policy is a common sense balance between values and interest, but the lack of overseas knowledge in a global world is concerning. Terrorist = bad = kill them is not an effective long-term strategy.
To wit (kind of): Mitt Romney spoke out against the Vietnam War. “If it wasn’t a political blunder to move into Vietnam,” said Romney, whose father was then serving in Nixon’s Cabinet, “I don’t know what is.”
I believe in solemn remembrance, but I also believe in the joy of thanksgiving. That’s why I don’t think remembering the fallen and barbeques need to be mutually exclusive. Check this story about Marine vets visiting the gravesites of their comrades on Memorial Day. Their gatherings are a mixture of weeping and celebration, of a nod to the fallen and a hug to the living.
And finally, every thinking American needs to read the Obama Secret Kill List article, if only to understand the complications of a global shadow war. The question is, of course, what better options have we, and that’s a difficult question to answer. If debate was more open (less classified, involved more Congressional members, et cetera) the targets could be lost. However, right now we have a President able to sentence and American citizen to death with no trial, no real open debate. Not good. I think the article in and of itself is a good beginning, opening the process up to review. Given the amount of access (“three dozen” officials) I have to wonder if this is a leak job, despite the article’s “critical” nature. It lays a lot out there, but no path, method, or impetus for change, nor any reasonable alternative.
There should be more thought and resources given to combating radicalization at its source, notably poverty, undereducation, and unemployment. That’s certainly a lot tougher (and harder to measure) than killing a government-defined Number One.