--- The Most Critical Issue of Our Time:
The Under-reported Purge of the U.S. Officer Corps ---
I believe the failure of the Left to notice or speak out about this vital issue makes them complicit in it. The matter is that serious. (Far more serious, even, than the Iraq War itself.)
I have spoken about how terribly important it is to defend the professional detachment and untampered political neutrality of men and women who volunteered to devote the core of their lives defending our civilization and freedom. Thanks to reforms instituted six decades ago by George Marshall (arguably the greatest man of the 20th Century), the Officer Corps (including the intelligence, military and diplomatic communities) has striven hard to become the third best-educated clade in American society today, right after university professors and medical doctors.
Yes, there have been some awful aberrations, cabals and crimes - from My Lai to Iran-Contra to Abu Ghraib - the sort of thing that can erupt out of fallible human nature whenever accountability gets trumped by secrecy, either because of national need or venial self-interest.
(It can be hard to tell the difference, especially from the inside -- which is why I speak elsewhere about methods to ensure accountability without giving away the store.)
Nevertheless, members of the U.S. Officer Corps tend to have a better on average record of rectitude than people in most other fields. And no one can match these men and women for devotion to Constitutional government, often in the face of either neglect or unfathomable misuse by the political caste.
How ironic, that the present phase of meddling - worse than anything seen in a hundred years - is being perpetrated by people who used to rail against "political interference" for costing us the Vietnam War. (The eerie comparison of Donald Rumsfeld's FIRST term as Secretary of Defense - overseeing our final humiliation in Vietnam - with this term in the same office, is just too creepy even to describe.)
Likewise, the same people who sneered at the"failed utopian fantasy of so-called nation building" are now spending vastly more, per day, on the openly and avowedly utopian notion of building a modern, democratic Iraq from the ground up, than any combination of their predecessors ever tried to do in, say, the Balkans, or even Cambodia.
And yet, who is to blame? A political cabal whose members are clearly acting in ways that - while corrupt and loony - at least have plenty of precedent in human history? (Find me one other time in history when aristocratic elites did NOT conspire?)
Or should we blame the "loyal opposition" for failing to even notice this shameful turn of events, let alone stand up for the brave professionals who stand between us and the cold wind?
After the Officer Corps is fully suborned, who will we turn to, when fanatics come up with pretext after pretext for re-establishing the age-old human pyramid of tyranny? By then, it will be too late.
Once upon a time, liberals viewed the military - and America's churches - as allies in the struggle to reform society, to rid it of racism, sexism and other perversions that were not only immoral, but grossly IMPRACTICAL wastage of valuable human resources. (To a modernist, inefficiency usually points to something immoral, and vice-versa.)
The military was the first major U.S. institution to desegregate, for example, becoming a giant school for tolerance that processed a majority of adult males, back in the era of the draft. Preconceptions that men had grown up with were challenged by daily exposure to the competent courage of other soldiers who just happened to look a little different. Once this happened, there was no turning back.
So then, why did liberalism turn its back upon the military, which pummeled Hitler, staved off Stalinist monsters, pioneered equality, and remained the one force standing decisively between us and any possibility of Big Brother?
How else could one of the most noble words - liberalism - have became a curse on the lips of millions of decent citizens?
Today, only a few Democratic politicians will even comment on flagrant efforts by right-wing forces to politicize the intelligence and military communities. Nor are many members of those communities speaking up.
Most are forbidden to do so until they retire. And even retirees (a rapidly growing group, as top officers resign) are reticent out of habit.
Still, they will speak, if you ask. If anybody bothers to ask. And I've had recent opportunities. As a frequent consultant on issues of "future threats to national defense," I was recently invited to speak at conferences on "Future WMD Dangers" and "Terror Threats to Soft Targets". (The latter was especially frightening, as we studied vulnerabilities of our schools, airports and shopping malls, charged to come up with imaginative ways to defend them.)
At such conferences I get to listen to intelligence and military officers after hours, in the bar, when they can let their hair down. Off the record, of course. And even after a few drinks, they are still generally more guarded and circumspect than a civilian would be at any time. So I'll respect them by not naming names or even places.
But they do talk, in general terms, about plummeting morale.
And make no mistake, things are getting VERY bad, boys and girls. The Officer Corps is being assaulted from both ends.
While radical congressmen are stocking the military academies with young fanatics, filling the pipeline with extremist zealots...
...those at the other end - generals and admirals who are the competent, brilliant and mature heirs of George Marshall - are being chased out. Subjected to political litmus tests. Cauterized in dead-end jobs....
... while middle-grade officers stare in dismay, worrying about their careers, their families, and their nation.
A majority of these guys are lifelong republicans, so this re-evaluation is hard on them. And it would be unwise to make of their despair more than it is. For example, they are not sudden-converts to Hillary Clinton! (Though, ironically, she is one of the few democratic officeholders who has taken a stand on this issue, stepping forward on their behalf.)
Still, these guys can tell that this is not the GOP of their fathers, nor of Barry Goldwater, nor even Billy Graham.
This is something else. And we had better study it carefully, before all the heroes are cowed or collared or driven into exile. If we wait too long, it will be too late.
And there won't be anybody left to stand between us and the wind.
Follow-up: See The Officer Corps Fights Back...Shall We Help Them?
The GOP vs. The U.S. Military: Indoctrinating the Ranks
The Officer Corps Stands Up!
I suppose I owe an explanation for this long absence, which has turned into a Summer Hiatus... at least for the whole month of July.
In fact, as I said at the beginning, I am not a blogger by nature, or by passion, or for lack of other outlets of self-expression. With far too little time for my novels, speeches and nonfiction projects - or even sometimes my family - this medium has to take last priority.
And yet, it does offer a place to deliver (in episodic form) some items that I want to share, such as:
- musings about where we stand in the Enlightenment's long term project to improve human society...
- ammunition for those of you out there who may be allies in what I call "the Real Culture War"... a hidden conflict that is so thoroughly masked by the hoary/stupid "left-right axis" that it appears to have gone virtually unnoticed. And yet, I feel it underlies our struggle to preserve modernist confidence against a rising tide of fear & superstition...
- commentary on recent cultural events... such as the new Steven Spielberg film...
- an upcoming serialized essay on "Twelve Major Theological Questions for Twenty-First Century Humanity." (This one ought to be way fun.)
- news about various projects and books, etc. And so on.
On the latter front, do drop by my main web site - http://www.davidbrin.com/ and see items like my recent review of Robert O'Harrow's book about privacy called No Place to Hide, published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Also try out samples of my books and stories, plus the popular graphic novel The Life Eaters, which has lately attracted some real interest from game developers!