What I find most irritating about Gilliard and co. is the profound misunderstanding of the military, what it does, and what it should be. The logic of “if you believe in a war, you enlist” leads to a politically and ideologically charged military organization of exactly the type that we DON’T want, especially if we’re on the left. While it is impossible to keep politics completely out of the military (or the military completely out of politics) it is certainly desirable to minimize the contact between the worlds as much as possible. Military officers should make military decisions, not political ones, and shouldn’t evaluate the political decisions of civilian leaders, even in approval.
A military officer is a professional, just like a doctor, lawyer, or bureaucrat. The same goes for the most experienced enlisted men. The officer corps of the United States military represents one of the most capable and well educated segments of the American population. Moreover, they are drawn from all strata of society (as are the enlisted men). Their duty, as professionals, is to serve their client, which is the United States government. It is better that they serve their client in a non-ideological, professional manner. Claims that “if you believe in the war, you have to enlist” completely misunderstand the purpose of the professional military, especially the officer corps.
The military should have a commitment to serving the civilian leaders of the United States. Ideally, they should take no stance on POLITICAL decisions, of which launching a war is one. Of course, this ideal will never be met, but it is hardly in the interests of progressives to glorify the ideological component of a military organization.
Oh, and yes, I considered military service very strongly back in 1991, when I was about to graduate from high school. I was interested in both West Point and Annapolis, and they were interested in me. What made me decide against military service was not cowardice, as least not in the sense that Steve Gilliard is using the term, and certainly wasn’t “entitlement”. Rather, it seemed to me that I would make a piss poor military officer, and that I lacked the discipline for military life. The course of my life since 1992 has done nothing to dissuade me of that belief. So yes, if I were drafted I would serve, but I have very good reason to think that there are a lot of people who can do this job much better than I could. I would like to think I have a bit of talent for teaching, and after all we need teachers too. . .
Now I’m done with this garbage. Believe what you want.