In two generations we have gone from General Patton telling his troops to grease their tanks with the enemy's guts to an extensive purge of Navy command officers over a series of raunchy video skits. Slowly but surely we are turning the greatest armed forces into the world, into the most politically correct disarmed forces the world has ever seen.
A congressional report now says that the US military has too many white males at the top. Women are being kept out of the highest ranks because they lack combat experience. The report calls on the military leadership to "better reflect the racial, ethnic and gender mix of American society". Which is code for affirmative action. If we didn't have enough incompetents at the top, we can look forward to an affirmative action military in which the generals will be there because of the color of their skin or their gender, not because they're the best at what they do.
The mandate that every civic institution has to reflect the multicultural politics of the liberal elites reflects their determination to impose their vision on the country by hijacking its institutions. And every institution touched by their vision has become functionally useless, incapable of performing even their simplest tasks, but always needing more money. America's great cities have become sinkholes. The Postal Service is on the verge of extinction. And now it's the military's turn.
Such dramatic overhauls of the military usually take place because it is culturally out of step with the government. Would be tyrants, such as Turkey's Erdogan, go after the military because it represents a barrier to absolute power. Others because the military is a barrier to their agenda. Sharon destroyed the once great IDF, purging its commanders and replacing them with political generals in order to push through his ethnic cleansing of the Jewish communities in Gaza, leading to the disastrous performance in the Second Lebanon War. The Democrats may not have anything as ambitious in mind, but they are determined to bring it culturally into line with their agenda. And that will destroy the military as anything other than a politically correct corps that will occasionally show up for UN peacekeeping missions.
This did not begin yesterday. The left has hated the American military because it is a vehicle of national exceptionalism. A strong military gives the country a sense of independence and confidence that many European countries have lost. During the Vietnam War, the Anti-War movement targeted the military as an institution and the soldier as an individual, in order to destroy America's ability to take independent military action. Despite the abolition of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the left has continued its vocal opposition to an ROTC presence on campus. When a wounded Iraq War veteran spoke at Columbia, he was booed and jeered. Their excuse is that the military "discriminates" against transsexuals. And when that barrier too is dismantled, then there will be something else. It's not about gays or transsexuals, it's about a deep rooted ideological hostility to the military. Not because of any specific policy, but because of what it represents as the defenders of a country and an order that the left would like to see destroyed.
The War on Terror began a new phase of leftist terror against the military, with political organizations, the media and lawyers joining forces to demonize and demoralize the armed forces. They had a limited success until Abu Ghraib opened the door to a variety of prosecutions. The message shifted from soldiers as heroes, to soldiers as villains. Washington D.C.'s message to the military became to be unobtrusive and avoid embarrassing us-- while still getting results. From the man in the field to the man in the big office, if you do something that catches the media's unblinking eye, we will hang you out to dry. The panic that set in after Abu Ghraib kept sending shivers through the establishment. Good men were dragged through the mud to show our good faith, our willingness to burn our own at the stake of public relations.
But the bug was always in the system. Because once the initial fighting was done, Afghanistan and Iraq became political objectives. Turning a mess of tribal warlords and urban religious factions into working democracies became the mission. A political mission laid out in Foggy Bottom by men who never have to go out and die for it. And the men who did, went on dying because it was an impossible political objective. The worse the situation became, the more their hands were tied. Forgotten by the media which once turned every death into a cause, American soldiers are dying in Afghanistan because of Rules of Engagement that are meant to win over the locals. The locals have not been won over, but the graves in military cemeteries keep on growing.
Thousands of Americans died on 9/11 because of a failure to identify the enemy. Thousands of Americans have died since then in Iraq and Afghanistan for the same reason. Because our governments invested their lives into the implementation of optimistic theories about human nature and democracy. A theory they had to cobble together from bits and pieces, because the reality was too ugly and uncompromisable for them to face. So they lied to us instead. And they lied to the men they sent off to die, so that wells might be dug and generators started, candy handed out to smiling children and elections held in crowded cities. Now the wells have been dug, and so have the graves, and the Taliban are still here, and the Mullahs spread their shadowy wings over the region.
Now two airmen are shot in Germany by a Kosovar Muslim, another child of our efforts to bring peace and democracy. And because German officials do not know enough to lie about what happened, the media winces and uncomfortably reports the truth, while Obama mumbles empty platitudes and PJ Crowley wonders aloud how you go about defining terrorism. That is another one of those political problems. Politicians and their camp followers are very much concerned with defining things, not according to their meanings, but their implications. Defining what happened in Frankfurt or Fort Hood as terrorism would require action. And not the politically appropriate kind.
While the next wave of violence was being birthed in caverns and huts, the American military establishment was busy debating how to comply with the political objective of integrating gays into the military. No satirist could have come up with a more absurd scenario in wartime. But life always outdoes the satirist, if he waits around long enough. One day those solemn discussions may go down with Caligula's horse in the Senate as moments of blinding insanity by the leaders of a great power come completely untethered from reality. They are damning because they represent a terrible disassociation from the military as a means of defending the society, to the military as a representative of the ideals of society's political representatives.
To the politicians, the military must represent their ideals. And so the military has become the peace corps, the tolerance corps and eventually nothing but a series of defense contracts for Green energy and Global Warming defense. Give this bunch in charge another few years and the key national security objective will be defined as fighting Global Warming and the army will be recruiting environmentalists to promote sustainable living in Afghanistan. The left has never understood why we needed to fight terrorism at all, instead of its root causes, such as globalism, global warming and other things that begin with 'G'. It is lunacy, but so was the Bush Administration's deeply held belief that the only thing wrong with the Muslim world was a lack of voting booths.
The underlying problem is that neither administration was very clear on what the military was for. They were and are even less clear on what reality is. They used the military as a vehicle for their ideals and their global vision. The world in their minds is one great line of dominoes and they have a moral obligation to send them flying in the right direction. This childish world-image collides with reality, men die, and still the dominoes go on falling in the game rooms of their minds.
The Muslim world still understands war in the old sense, a contest in which forces war to impose their will on one another. Their war is one of attrition. They cannot beat us in a straight contest, but give them enough time and they can still make us retreat.
They want to impose Islam on us so that we too will cry Allah Akbar, acknowledging the supremacy of their culture and race over our own .We want to impose something on them, but we don't know quite what it is. It's usually some muddled form of democracy, rights, freedoms, unions, multiculturalism, a dim murky mirror image of ourselves. But if the British couldn't do it after generations of colonialism, what in the world makes us think that we can.
The Muslim world has hated us ever since it learned that we existed, sometimes with the calmly implacable hatred of the other, sometimes with the burning rage of frustrated honor, sometimes hidden behind unctuous smiles, and sometimes with full throated bellows of rage. In this contest we are the weaker party because we hate less. Often we do not hate at all. And like tourists wandering with money in our hands through the bazaars of Cairo, that makes us vulnerable. Our enemies pride themselves not on their strength of arms, their intelligence or competence-- but on the strength of their hate. It is a fevered hate that would break itself against our arms, our intelligence and our competence-- if we were to actually make use of them.
It is not that we lack the ability to defend ourselves. It is that we lack the understanding and the will. Our leaders aspire to a purity of ideals that transcends self-interest, and such Gandhian austerity is another form of death. To say that we would rather die than defend ourselves is to commit suicide. To place a society's ideals above its survival is folly, as the society's doom is also the doom of its ideals. And those who do this are no longer following ideals, but a peculiar and fanatical faith of their own that compels them to die rather than spill a drop of the enemy's blood. But there is a more commonplace form of folly, to define reality narrowly by those ideals and to send men out into the trenches to die for them. After doing it a few too many times, Europe decided that it would no longer send men off to die for any reason, and then was forced to do it anyway.
Now the civilized world has decided that it will not send men off to die except for wholly unselfish reasons, pure 'good of other men' reasons, sanctified by the blessing of the UN and the international community. Good and pure 'feed the starving children' type reasons. No more greedy warmongering or cynical landgrabbing. We are now a good and pure people who rarely kill, and if we kill, it is only because we have absolutely no other choice. Why we would rather die than kill, and often do.
But war is selfish, not altruistic. It is a selfish decision to take the life of another, rather than our own or that of our loved ones or our fellow men. Its nobility comes from that very selfishness, a selfishness rooted in kinship and friendship, rather than the abstract ideals which so often come down to nothing. If we are to fight, then we must be selfish. If we are to win, then we must be realistic. Politics has no place on the battlefield. The only thing worth fighting for is ourselves. Our land, our homes, our survival. It is one thing to fight side by side in alliance with friends, but fighting wars to reform enemies is the worst sort of foolishness. We can try to transform our enemies, but then they will transform us also as well. By trying to win over Islam to our way of life, we have given it great influence over us.
The rest of the free world is cleverly building its own ghettos, dividing so that the conquerors will have an easier time of it. Worrying over the morals and ethics of their actions. Purifying its armies to reflect its ideals of tolerance, co-existence and surrendering before the first shot has even been fired.
For now the First World has the best soldiers and the worst leaders. And it would have almost be better if it were the other way around. The generals who are the interface between the two have become politicians. The armies rot, go unused or misused, and the enemy passes right around them. We can't win if we don't fight, and we aren't fighting. Not for ourselves anyway. For the purity of our ideals, and for some notion that everyone is entitled to a voting booth, birth control and microfinance, but not for ourselves. And until we start fighting for ourselves, until we find leaders who want to defend a country, rather than a set of ideals, then we will go on spending the lives of our soldiers for nothing and the future of our civilization for a tin penny prize.