I was fortunate enough to spend several years as an officer in The United States Army Reserve. You could say I was a nice enough guy, but never quite made it to Colonel.* Even given that somewhat limited background, I feel I learned sufficiently what an army does well and what an army should not be used for. Suffice it to say that the true purpose of an Army is to blow up our nation’s enemies or be powerful enough to command the respect of others to the point where they check their animosity towards us at the door. An army is not an institution that should ever be used for social engineering. Thus, a recent article by Dana Milbank** had me imagining an American version of Pinochet. Milbank opines below:
As I make my rounds each day in the capital, chronicling our leaders’ plentiful foibles, failings, screw-ups, inanities, outrages and overall dysfunction, I’m often asked if there’s anything that could clean up the mess….But there is one change that, over time, could reverse the problems that have built up over the last few decades. We should have mandatory military service for all Americans, men and women alike, when they turn 18. The idea is radical, unlikely and impractical — but it just might work.
Streiff took to the RS front page to explain Milbank’s rather selective interpretation of how the conscription impacted the quality of American leadership. He rather predictably served Dana Milbank his own flambéed posterior as a suitable turkey dinner. Perhaps I’m hitting him again because ‘tis the season for turkey-themed leftovers. Streiff handles the impact on leadership, I handle its potential danger to both the military and the society it protects.
While Milbank writes in admiration of the military and seems sincere in his appreciation for their effectiveness, he stumbles into an age old trap. Imagine that scruffy neighbor’s kid you hate getting told by the judge he can join Sam’s Army or he can do road work with the other prisoners at the Destin, AL lock-up in August. Sparky reluctantly enlists and comes back a year-or-so and many early mornings of PT and D-and-C later looking like Prince Caspian from The Narnia Chronicles in his starched dress blues. If the Army can fix Sparky, maybe we should yank all of his dysfunctional buddies away from their X-Boxes and porno-sites and square them all away. The future would be so bright we’d all have to wear shades.
And while we’re using our Friendly and Caring Drill Instructors to turn Sparky, Luigi and Duff into human beings rather than spoiled-rotten, post-modern American brats, we can mold our society through the magic of ppt. “You WILL respect Diversity or you WILL push Ft. Jackson, Maggot!” We can dress them all the same, feed them all the same, MAKE them all equal. We can standardize, we can maximize, we can optimize, we can brain-wash them all with the Super Tropical Bleach the Army cleans up chemical munitions sites with. What could mold our Brave New World better than the loving iron hand of unfettered authoritarianism?
Milbank misses several points the way this year’s members of The New York Knicks heave up air ball three-pointers. The Army can and is willing to sort out Good Old Sparky because Sparky is a distinct minority. He becomes surrounded by morally superior individuals who volunteered to be there out of a sense of noblesse oblige’, a burning ambition or an old-fashioned love of country. Put one wasted ejaculate in a squad with eight reasonably squared away individuals and the rough edges will be sounded smooth quite swiftly.
Put Sparky, Duff, Beavis, Butthead, Sanjey and Craig all in the same squad and Sgt. Alvin York can’t be large and in charge enough to pick up all that human garbage. The bad overwhelms the good, and the good then either leaves or grows corrupted. The army becomes like the army of the Late Roman Empire. It could be half-a-million strong and equipped with the most lethal technologies known to man, but an Army relying on Beavis will take one look at a pissed-off Kublai Khan and reenact The Bladensburg Races. Deliberately using the Steve Earle Protocol of “Drafting White Trash first to try and clear it away” will produce an army that reflects its pool of inductees.
Then there is the obvious and despicable evil of using the institutional power and authority to enforce Political Correctness on a captive audience. The Soviets tried a more extreme version of what Milbank obliquely suggests at a place called Maxim Gorky. He wants to use the Army as his own personal Borg to mold good, little obedient Fascists citizens. In the manipulative hands of technocratic mediocrities such as Dana Milbank, the Army becomes an indoctrination center that serves as a substitute for the burdensome task of actually winning philosophical debates and getting people to voluntarily agree with doing it your way.
This is the precisely the moral laziness that takes an ideological movement on the first step to becoming Fascist. We’ll square them away and MAKE them Liberal. It’s for their personal edification; we’re the good people here. So not only is Dana Milbank’s idea “radical, unlikely and impractical,” it is also lazy, duplicitous and ultimately self-detrimental. Bringing back the draft and using the Army to force acculturation down the throats of a sullen, brooding and increasingly enslaved population is just the sort of brilliant social policy that makes Glorious North Korea the paranoid dystopia that it seems forever fated to remain.
Milbank should go back to making classy and hilarious comedy skits about Dick Cheney’s hunting misadventures. Serious parents will assimilate our children into decent citizens through the affirmative mechanism of positive acculturation. This will produce ongoing generations of serious and thoughtful young people who will volunteer in waves to defend our Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. In that respect, America’s future is truly brighter than Dana Milbank could ever hope to be.
*-Others would leave it at saying I never quite made it to Colonel.
**-He who donned the dunk-hunter outfit to ridicule Dick Cheney after he shot his friend on a hunting trip.