Monday, May 27, 2013

A salute for Memorial Day

During World War II, Ray Gordon, my partner's deceased father, created a series of woodblock prints, of which this is one. At least that's what he did when the Army didn't have him drawing public health posters. Many soldiers had worse wars.

According to an oped in the NY Times, in World War II, twelve percent of the population served in the Armed Forces; today, the percentage is 0.5. Retired Army lieutenant general, Karl W. Eikenberry and Stanford University historian David M. Kennedy claim disturbingly that

The Congressional Research Service has documented 144 military deployments in the 40 years since adoption of the all-voluntary force in 1973, compared with 19 in the 27-year period of the Selective Service draft following World War II — an increase in reliance on military force traceable in no small part to the distance that has come to separate the civil and military sectors. The modern force presents presidents with a moral hazard, making it easier for them to resort to arms with little concern for the economic consequences or political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans are happy to thank the volunteer soldiers who make it possible for them not to serve, and deem it is somehow unpatriotic to call their armed forces to task when things go awry.

Civilian control of the military may someday break if soldiers are repeatedly sent to die in stupid fights for unattainable objectives against foes they experience as unpredictable alien beings.

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