* The Danger Grows...
Our topic is an ongoing campaign by President George W. Bush and the Neoconservatives to undermine, discredit, suborn and crush the professionals who make up the U.S. Civil Service, the intelligence and law enforcement communities, the courts, scientists, and any others who might stand in the way of their principal program -- the unlawful usurpation of unaccountable power.
Foremost among these skilled and dedicated public servants -- who have been the Bushites’ first and worst victims -- are members of the United States Military. As I have been showing, our men and women in uniform are harassed, overworked and undersupported. The services are worn down and misused, apolitical traditions shredded, and careers terminated... especially whenever a brave officer or enlisted person stands up to protest.
Whether this destructive process is driven by obstinate dogmatism -- or something diabolically deliberate -- is left to opinion. (Or else, it is a matter for our harried professionals to uncover.)
Nevertheless the overall outcome is unmistakable. It appears that flag-waving jingoism and noisy posturing do not guarantee genuine support for our troops. Indeed, they seem to correlate with the exact opposite.
* The Great Purge
In Parts One and Two we discussed the demolition of our nation’s reputation for invincibility and our stature on the moral high ground. Two traits of inestimable value, even in strictly military terms. But those are still abstractions, so Part 3 focused on the marrow -- the plummet in readiness of the United States army and Marines. A situation that is horrifying, the more you learn.
In Part 4 we saw how demolishing the Army, the Marines and the Reserves, without asking the rich for money or the rest of us for volunteers, does not even remotely resemble how leaders of a rational nation would fight either a war of national policy or a response to dire crisis. All of the excuses that have been offered have been revealed as absurd.
* But that ain’t the worst, by far.
Vastly more chilling is the relentless effort to purge the officer corps. A culling process that has only accelerated in the last couple of years, eliminating men and women of high calibre from what had been a pool of supremely educated, competent and apolitically dedicated professionals, replacing many of them with yes-man hacks...
...a catastrophe that could justifiably be compared to Joseph Stalin's purge of the Red Army in 1937-1938, which is widely blamed for leaving the Russian officer corps understaffed and undertrained on the eve of war with Nazi Germany. True, the neocons aren’t shooting our generals and admirals, just forcing them into early retirement. But be patient. We may still be in early days.
A couple of years after I first broached this matter (pretty much alone), news articles began circulating about clusters of retired flag officers, speaking out against the creeping betrayal.
What remains puzzling is the gaping silence from prominent democrats -- except for Wesley Clark -- about a scandal that should be right out there. Treated as a major campaign issue and one of our paramount concerns.
(Let’s take a note of optimism in the rise of Navy CNO Admiral Mike Mullen to be our nation’s next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with Adm.William Fallon as Commander of US Central Command -- both of them outspoken critics of administration policy and diametrically opposite to kind of officers we are accustomed to seeing rewarded by this president. These important promotions suggest that the military professionals aren’t exactly lying down. Dedicated to silence on political matters, they may nevertheless have applied forceful back pressure of their own, behind the scenes, against the ongoing Bushite purge. If so, these people deserve honor for defending us, yet again, this time from an enemy within.)
* But the Great Purge Has Many Sides
Alas, our military’s professionalism and dedicated tradition of Constitutionalism are under assault from many directions, not just the ongoing effort to bully or dumb-down commanders at the top. There is also a deeply worrisome campaign to suborn and infiltrate dogmatism into the ranks, from the side and from below.
Bruce Wilson a lead researcher for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, wrote to me about ongoing neocon efforts to transform the United States Military, turning it into an active force for the fundamentalist Christianization of America. (Moderate churches have always played a very different and positive role.)
Read more about scandalous efforts to turn our apolitical and Constitutional military into an instrument of religious orthodoxy, on our way toward a theocratic state like the one forecast - in fiction - by a worried Robert A. Heinlein. (In prophetic novels he portrayed theocracy beginning, chillingly, in the year 2012.) MRRF is commendably trying to combat this trend, which some services have resisted more vigorously than others. (For a darker view, from an even more worried perspective, see http://community.livejournal.com/dark_christian)
Take this testimony from a recently-serving Army NCO: “In Basic Training in Kentucky, all soldiers are sent to a local church that gives you a few hours of downtime on a weekend and required to attend an Evangelical Christian worship service - no matter your religious persuasion. (Those who objected based on religious grounds were so harshly threatened that they gave in and went.) This fire and brimstone service in no uncertain terms paints the current geopolitical situation in terms of the Book of Revelations, anoints these trainees as chosen soldiers of God converting and killing heathens, and ends with a conversion ceremony where nonbelievers are peer-pressured into being 'Saved' .”
(In fairness, when I queried soldiers and marines whom I know or could reach via blog, only a minority report having seen this kind of travesty, though more subtle attempts at suasion appear to be common. Notably, none of the sailors I’ve spoken with -- either serving or retired -- have experienced anything like it. But that’s the Navy for you.)
Responding to my recent articles, Bruce Wilson wrote: “I can guarantee your concerns were not overblown. In fact, my research findings have recently demonstrated that.” Wilson acknowledged though, that none of their efforts have yet been directed at what may be the most dangerous part of this trend, an attempt by up to one hundred far-right members of Congress to stock the military academies with young men and women whose allegiance would no longer be Constitutionalist and neutral, but rather, as personal, ideological and lopsidedly political as the praetorians, janissaries, or jaguar warriors of old.
Of course, I had hoped that MRFF would already be monitoring this part of the problem. Perhaps now they will. It could take substantial dedication and research... or else, perhaps, just a simple polling of Congressfolk, under the letterhead of a quasi religious group, asking a straightforward question: “Are you using your Congressional privilege to appoint dedicated evangelical Christians to the military service academies?” One might be surprised how eagerly obliging and up-front some of the representatives are likely to be. (If any of you out there have suggestions or contacts that might be helpful, do contact MRFF. http://militaryreligiousfreedom.org/
I am especially interested in further confirmation of one clear impression -- that the Navy has been stalwart in resisting attempts to “stock” fanatics into Annapolis, while the Air Force has given in completely -- lock, stock and MX missile.
* Again... at least there is the Navy.
God bless the United States Navy.
And let’s go save the Army.
==Continue to Part 7