Sunday, March 8, 2009

America's Foreign Legion

"Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna, who have just completed a major multi-part examination of Army suicides at, record this official reaction to the military health crisis: 'Why do the numbers keep going up?' ... The two reporters find a wealth of evidence of military misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and plain, outright lack of desire to face a plague of suicides. ... But above all, of course, there are simply those endlessly repeated tours of duty in the Afghan and Iraq war zones. Suicides, in this sense, can be thought of as the individual symptoms of a larger military disaease. In these last years, the US military has been, like the individuals who committted suicide, overstrained, overstressed, and made to fight wars that consumed America's treasure, while becoming ever more unpopular at home. ... The obvious response, the one that could bring the military back to a state of health, is of course roundly ignored: Downsize the global mission. ... A leaner, meaner, higher tech force--that was what George W. Bush and his [SecDef] Donald Rumsfeld promised to transform the American military into. Instead, they came close to turning it into a foreign legion. ... Now would be a good time for President Obama and [SecDef] Robert Gates to begin to reclaim that military for its proper purpose: to support and defend the Constitution of the [US] against all enemies, foreign and domestic. ... A few fortnights ago and forever ago, in the Bush years, our 'expeditionary' military came remarkably close to resembling an updated version of the French Foreign Legion in the ways it was conceived and used by those in power--and even, to some extent, in its makeup. ... Its members, recruited worldwide, but especially from French colonial possessions, were considered expendible, a fate captured in its grim, sardonic motto: 'You joined the Legion to die. The Legion will send you where you can die!'. Looking back on the last eight years, what's remarkable is the degree to which Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration treated the US military in a similarly dismissive manner. Bullying his generals and ignoring their concerns, the [SecDef] even dismissed the vulnerability of the troops in Iraq, who, in the early years, motored about in inadequately armored Humvees and other thin-skinned vehicles. ... Put another way, [Bush's] administration made the very idea of national 'sacrifice'--by anyone but our troops--foreign to most Americans. In response to the 9/11 attacks, Americans were, as the President famously suggested only 16 days after the attacks, to show their grit by visiting Disney World and shopping until they dropped. Military service instills (and thrives on) an ethic of sacrifice that was, for more than seven years, consciously disavowed domestically. ... Is the fate of our troops no longer of much importance to most Americans? . ... Troops are now regularly recruited in 'foreign' places like South Central Los Angeles and Appalachia that more affluent Americans wouldn't be caught dead visiting. In some cases, those new recruits are quite literally 'foreign'--non US citizens allowed to seek a fast-track to citizenship by volunteering for frontline, war-zone duty in the the US Army or Marines. ... Caught in the shock and awe of 9/11, we allowed our military to be transformed into a neocon imperial police force. ... Our military may not yet be a foreign legion--but don't fool yourself, it's getting there", Tom Englehard and William Astore, 16 February 2009 at:

Well said. Even more troubling is the prospect of this national police force coming home to do "policing". See my 28 October 2008 post:

Junior at Junior Deputy Accountant has a 23 February 2009 related post you should read, link:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everything is out of balance... our military is so overused... preserve, protect and defend our nation.

Stand down these "missions"... recast our sphere of influence... renumber our core commitments...

It's a new era for our nation... and we must match our resources and our capabilities...