Monday, July 04, 2011

Why do we serve?

When in the Course of human Events it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth the separate & equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness:...
And so our Revolution - really a civil war - began. Those who served, fought, wounded, or died in that war understood why they left family and future to put their lives on the line.

In 2011 after a decade of undeclared war, with a leadership that cannot even call bombing another nation conflict and the reasons for these wars not even defended by those who lead us - why do we fight?

Besides following orders and doing what you can to protect and serve your band of brothers - why are we scattered around the world killing others, and for what purpose?

If our leaders cannot define or describe what we are doing with our armed forces - can we?

Over at the Christian Science Monitor, our friend Professor Bruce Fleming is asking that question.
The class of 2011 at the US Naval Academy ... has just graduated and its members have become officers. As have the classes of the other service academies. They should know what they are about to embark upon: A futile effort? A noble endeavor? A job with guaranteed benefits that may have them coming back in a box or spending years in rehab?

We got Osama bin Laden, but the euphoria will fade and the fight against terrorism will go on. Indeed, after a decade of US military intervention in the greater Middle East, the benefits – even the point – of shedding our blood and treasure seem elusive at best. We should tell our young soldiers what, exactly, they are defending.

How should the military see itself in this age where victory is unclear and the value of violent intervention so nebulous? Why should anyone join the military, either as an officer or as an enlisted person? Is it all about paying for college, having a steady income, or escaping a stifling small town or inner city? US military leaders give no clear answers. Yet these are the questions we must ask.
The most important word in the English language: why.

UPDATE: BTW - in case you missed it the first time, this weekend's Midrats is a "best of" with our interview with Don Rumsfeld and Bing West. You can listen to it here.


AW1 Tim said...

 I would offer that an answer to the question will not be forthcoming until our nation installs leadership worthy of the military they would control.

 After all these years, I have come to understand the gravity of the following:

 “We had been told, on leaving our native soil, that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens settled overseas, so many years of our presence, so many benefits brought by us to populations in need of our assistance and our civilization.
 “We were able to verify that all this was true, and because it was true, we did not hesitate to shed our quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes. We regretted nothing, but whereas we over here are inspired by this frame of mind, I am told that in Rome factions and conspiracies are rife, that treachery flourishes, and that many people in their uncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to the dire temptations of relinquishment and even to vilify our actions.
 “I cannot believe that all this is true, and yet recent wars have shown how pernicious such a state of mind could be and to where it could lead.
 “Make haste to reassure us, I beg you, and tell us that our fellow citizens understand us, support us, and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the Empire.
 “If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones on these desert sands in vain, then beware the fury of the Legions.”
    Centurion Marcus Flavinius, Second Cohort, Augusta Legion to his cousin Tertullus in Rome.

AW1 Tim said...

 I understand why the Praetorians became kingmakers, why the legions would kill an emporer and install someone else.  There has never been a revolt of the US Military throughout our history, and it is to our great honor that we have born the trials and tribulations of feckless politicians and ungrateful citizens. Yet, there HAVE been times, such as this, where good men and women in uniform have asked "why?" and these past 40 years or so that question has been put forth more often, and with no good answer.

 If there is any real shame to be mantled upon any class, it is that particular set of leaders who have set aside or willfully disregarded and manipulated our Constitution while those in uniform have scrupulously held it close, and defended it with their very lives.

 That must change, and sooner rather than later.  Otherwise, at some point those who have taken a solemn oath to protect and defend that same Constotution might change their question from "why?" to "why bother?"

 The great fear is not so much that the military turns on leadership. It's that the military simply walks away and goes home. All of us would argue that it can't happen. I would argue that it can.


ewok40k said...

picture worth 1000 words, imho
the answer is, to be on the right side

Stingray said...


Good post! I liked the picture, your sentiments,
and the questions you pose. Professor Fleming,
perhaps understandably given his situation, discusses
these issues in trms of Service Academy graduates.
Just for the record, the NROTC Class of 2011,
face  the same concerns. To the extent that they have
a more firm link with the citizen soldiers in your picture
perhaps they will have more success in dealing with them.

Byron said...

Why? Because we're Americans, a scruffy bunch of mongrels who have hearts that are sometimes too big and who are willing to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

LT B said...

Happy Fourth to those that sit on the porch and come around to grab a beverage or throw eggs at us. 

I am unhappy with our leadership, but still serve because I love my country, what she stands for, and the uniform helps me pick up chicks. :)

Here's an article from a father of a deploying ANG Soldier.

sid said...

Happy and Safe 4th to all those currently "On Watch"...

Hawkeye said...

Why do we serve? Well, my letter is being turned in tomorrow, so I guess I don't. But there is more than one way to ensure liberty.

I say this because it is said the Armed Forces are representive of what is best about America--and that may in fact be more true that we realize. But here is the nub--when the main bulwark of republican spirit becomes the personnel of its armed forces--not because they are a reflection of the citzenry at large, but because of self-selection and impulses to virtue and self-sacrfice inheherent in the military environment--then there is a problem that must be resolved. And as painful as the process of correcting this problem may be, it must be done, and in a way that ensures it need not be repeated.  To this I turn myself, as well as to other things. 

LT B said...

Regardless of when your letter is submitted, Thank you for your service.  Best of luck to you in your new life.  Now go buy civilian clothes.  You get looked at funny now if you wear the same thing every day. :)   Happy Independence Day!

LT B said...

Hey Byron, thank you for your service.  Yes, you, the ship fitter, contractor guy that keeps our ships going, the water out and not in and believe in our same ideals.  Happy Independence Day, shipmate! 

Sean said...

No greater worse enemy....

To quote our bethren in arms...

Sean said...

Ooooh Rahhh!

Sometimes you just need a photo to explain the obvious (obvious to us that serve, anyway...)

Reference RAH speech to the Naval Academy on the moral benefits of the baboon watching the troop....

pk said...

if you can slip into the civilian side. it can result in not missing a paycheck for 35 years and who knows you might be able to do some good.


pk said...

a few minutes ago i finished the book "Six Frigates".

no not in one sitting, and yes the kindle was smoking when i finished.

it explains a lot of things.  as in the more they are different the more they are the same.

by the way there is a site <span></span> that might be of interest to the lads. i down loaded 13 of alfred thayer mahans' books from it for free.

gba, GBA, <span>GBA</span>

FCC said...

<span>Well, my letter is being turned in tomorrow, so I guess I don't.</span>

Perhaps "won't" would have finished that sentence better, but judging by the rest of your insightful passage, I'd recommend "already have." 

Congratulations and thank you, sir.

Salty Gator said...

I think maybe this sums it up best.  Over to "Hoot" Andrews as played by Eric Bana:

Whatever reason we sign up, it ultimately becomes about not letting down our Shipmates or fellow Marines.  When we get out, we never forget them, past, present, future.  We are tied to them forever through that bond, that devotion.

Happy Independence Day to all my brothers and sisters.

Retired Now said...

5th Dimension sang Preamble to Declaration of Independence back in late 60's.  Like all good songs, it stuck in my memory, word for word to this day.   Excellent R&B / Soul song which is for sale on i TUNES:   Fifth Dimension,  album title = "PORTRAIT".    It is song #7 called,  "Medley, the Declaration...".

If it wasn't so long, I vote to have this song be our National Anthem.    Since this 5th Dimension album is old, APPLE does not copy protect it, and you are allowed to burn it to CD's, etc. for your car, etc.

Someone famous once said that if he was allowed to write all the songs for a country, he could easily control the entire country.    The Declaration song still rings word for word in my mind to this day, without any errors.     Soon, I'll be able to really impress my grandkids as I recite it flawlessly as they get older.

Mary Alpha said...

Sorry that I'm a day late with this but I want to thank all of you who serve now and who have served this great nation, especially my son. God bless each of you and hold you in his care.

DM05 said...

Sometimes it's noble, sometimes necessary, and occassionally, in the past court ordered. For those that take a liking, and keep their thinking caps on, it can be quite a ride. And yes, it's not for everybody. For those of us on the outside, we defend the defenders, while missing being part of the 'system', periodically dysfunctional, but tempered with honor, duty, committment, and long storied history. The platforms, the medals, and the I love me certificates are nice, but it has to be more, something in the soul to serve with honor, while sometimes doing the countries distasteful bidding. To those that wear the nation's fabric, thank you for your service.

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