The Source of American Military Power
By Bruce Walker
April 2, 2012
Our world is dangerous. China, a corrupt and chauvinistic one-party Communist regime, is becoming an economic superpower. Russia is drifting toward authoritarian imperialism, with a jealous eye towards those Soviet Socialist Republics lost when the USSR disintegrated. Radical Islam is still simmering throughout the Indian Ocean basin, and the democratization of this irrational and angry sentiment does not make it safer for the peaceful West. Except for America and Israel, none of the free nations takes national defense very seriously.
The supercilious "deal" made between Obama and Republicans to reduce the deficit includes some automatic cuts in national defense. Many Americans, like Rick Santorum in this recent article, worry that these cuts will endanger us.
There are excellent reasons for not penny-pinching when it comes to national defense. Peace is always cheaper than war, and wars come when aggressive nations believe that they are more powerful than peaceful nations. Gold-plating our weapons and munitions allows us to avoid almost all the collateral damage to civilian populations which has historically been an accepted part of war. Defense spending helps develop our technologies and preserve our industries. Most importantly, though, we must never scrimp on defense spending if our troops pay in blood the price of our defense frugality.
The real strength of our military, however, involves more important factors than simply spending enough on national defense. Every great captain in military history has known that the quality of warriors trumps everything else. Our men and women in our armed forces are the finest in the history of the world. Does that sound too gushing? Consider these factors.
In the last fifty years, our military has fought wars in steaming jungles, in burning deserts, on tropical islands, and in inland mountainous lands -- almost every conceivable sort of climate and culture. This has given our military much more combat experience than any other nation on earth. Those men and women who have joined the services also stay in the services much more than in past decades. These men and women are significantly more intelligent than the average American. These facts collectively mean that the capability of our military personnel is vastly superior to other armed forces.
Another reason for the superiority of our troops is the fact that all who wear the uniform are volunteers. Conscripted armies are filled with men who dislike military service and may find the military objectives of their government foul. Our military, in stark contrast, has only those who have chosen to fight for their country and have accepted military service as an honorable career.
When we relied upon the draft and a disproportionate percentage of our military was filled with conscripted poor and black enlisted men, the families of these men viewed the military service as a form of serfdom -- involuntary service which too often ended with a traumatized, maimed, or killed family member. Women, too, are a significant demographic group in our military, perhaps larger than in any army, except the Red Army in the Second World War, in human history.
The fact that these are all volunteers radically changes the political consequences of smearing our troops. When creepy leftists like Dick Durbin and John Kerry say dreadful things about our troops, huge chunks of America, including demographic groups who generally tilt to the left like black mothers, are angered and appalled. When leftists in Hollywood produce films like Valley of Elah, the defamatory creation is box office poison.
We do not just support those who are in uniform now; our nation has embraced those men and women who have been maimed or crippled to keep us safe with wonderful efforts like Wounded Warrior Project, which means that not just government programs, but grateful countrymen will help said people and their families through the pain of the sacrifices they have made for us. Operation Homefront focuses on the families of servicemen and women. Tom Hanks, a leftist, has supported Welcome Back Veterans, which is committed to making sure that the soldiers who fight our wars come home to a grateful nation. This popular support for our troops, whatever the machinations of political leaders, has an incalculable effect on those in our armed forces.
Here lies the greatest source of American military power: our armed forces are filled with men and women who are proud to fight for their country, which have more experience in combat than any military in the world, who are seasoned professionals, who are smarter than their countrymen, and who feel strong support from the American people.
When you feel discouraged by the course of our country (and it is only logical to be despondent about many things in America today), recall that we are protected by the best of the best, who place their bodies between us and evil every day.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.