Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of July 25, 2011
Readers write in to join the dialogue on whether the US military still has a clear purpose.
Defining US military purpose
The headline over Bruce Fleming's June 20 commentary, "Does the US military have a clear purpose?" led me to expect more analytical depth than he delivered. Still, I welcomed what he had to say as another in a small but growing chorus of informed voices asking the right questions in the wake of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For most of my life, certainly my adult life, the United States has been in a constant state of war. Once engaged, it seems that the reasons not to disengage overwhelm any president's will or ability to do so, our current commander in chief being a prime example.
My fervent prayer is that voices like Mr. Fleming's, as well as the costs and results of our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, will lead to a wiser course in the future, with full and honest cost calculations up front and use of a massive military footprint only when appropriate.
Fleming clearly misses and seems unable to conceive of why a person serves. One doesn't decide to join the armed forces based on America's latest enemy, or on some grand government plan or strategy, for these things change constantly. Nor does one volunteer because the government is properly allocating resources and responsibly spending defense dollars.
One volunteers to join the force because he or she has an innate desire to serve. He or she is willing to fight and die for the ideals that our great nation stands for and does its darnedest to uphold.
We all joined the force because we believe in the great American dream. We joined the force because we wanted to become a part of something bigger and better than ourselves. We understood that, somewhere among all of the murkiness of life, there are people who believe in brotherhood and teamwork – that our collective selflessness and hard work can positively affect the world.
I am extremely curious as to what types of values and ideals Fleming is imparting to his midshipmen.
While I enjoyed reading Fleming's commentary, I am comforted to know no one, personally, who takes pride in their military service "at the cost of denigrating the civilians" whom we serve, as Fleming cautions against in his reference to military price. True service is based on pride while the condescension of which he speaks is based on hubris.
At its very core military service defies most, if not all, logic. How could such sacrifice not? In the deepest sense, military service is ultimately a matter of the heart – therein lies the real basis of any new military metaphysics.