The danger of having an all-volunteer (I think mercenary) military is that it becomes a separate institution away from the American people — no longer a citizen army.
Now we have not seen it turn into something like say in South America where commanders obtain independent loyalties from the troops they pay and where the military threatens civilian rule with the threat of coups that topple governments. That is because our Constitution clearly puts the military under civilian control.
But the military has turned into a kind of police or security force ready to respond anywhere in the world at the president’s orders to fit into geopolitical schemes disguised as national defense.
One of the most apparent effects of going all-volunteer is that much of the public is oblivious or disinterested (I don’t mean uninterested, but that too) in what the troops are doing — parents and loved ones notwithstanding.
Think about it. If it was a citizen army, drawn from conscription, the draft, would we (the U.S.) still be in Afghanistan? No.
To keep the war going, though, supporters appeal to the argument that our troops must be supported. Well they would not need to be supported over there if they were not over there. But of course they are, so, yes, they do need to be supported.
From what I have been reading, the war in Afghanistan is an abject failure. We have lost some 2,000 troops, thousands more gravely wounded, and have spent more than a trillion dollars, not only on ammunition but costly but ineffective infrastructure projects to win the hearts and minds of the people, much of the money wasted via corruption.
We originally went in there to simply go after Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda forces who attacked us on 9/11. It’s kind of like we were lured into a trap, the morass of Afghanistan, something the old Soviet Union fell victim to years before (ironically when we actually supported Bin Laden).
While this is 20/20 hindsight, I think we would have been better off to go after Bin Laden using our modern technology instead of the ponderous conventional military approach. And for crying out loud, do we ever learn? Winning the hearts and minds of people while devastating their homeland never works. And where is it written that the mission of the United States of America is to win the hearts and minds of people around the world?
Our wars in the Middle East have been, continue to be, a tragic waste of human lives and national treasure. I believe the real support from them is from military contractors.
Once upon a time we had an army that did its own dishes and built its own bridges and provided its own security and was solidly backed by its citizens because it was such an integral part of society, seeing as how most everyone (men of age at least) was subject to service.
Ron Paul is quoted as saying there is no difference between Obama and Romney.
So far, I think he might be right when it comes to foreign policy.
We might get a better idea in the debate Tuesday.