American Thinkers

US College Entrance Scam …

Posted on March 14, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-tip-the-yale-coach-and-the-wire-how-the-college-admissions-scam-unraveled-11552524237

https://nypost.com/2019/03/14/meet-the-finance-fraudster-who-blew-the-lid-off-the-college-admissions-scandal/

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Alcatraz – Possible Escape Story? …

Posted on March 14, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

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A Tree …

Posted on January 25, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

3200 YEARS IN ONE PHOTOGRAPH~ AT SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK ~ 

Thankfully, no loggers took it down, nor forest fires or earthquakes!  Just a quiet life in a California forest for all these years … 3,200! 

Not every tree has a nickname, but ‘The President’ has earned it. This giant sequoia stands at 247 feet tall & is estimated to be over 3,200 years old.  

Imagine, this tree was already 700 years old during the height of ancient Greece’s civilization and 1200 years old when Jesus lived while Rome was well into its rule of most of the western world and points beyond.  

The trunk of The President measures 27 feet across, with 2 needles from base to top. Because of its unbelievable size, this tree has never been photographed in its entirety, until now.National Geographic photographers have worked along with scientists to try and create the firstphoto that shows The President in all its glory. 

They had to climb the tree with pulleys and levers and took thousands of photos. Of those, they selected 126 and stitched them together to get this incredible portrait of The President. 

And here it is: The man standing near the trunk of the tree is a good indicator of the tree’s size. Incredible, isn’t it?

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-f2pzpWWYXzc/U0tLCN7rUTI/AAAAAAAAMfk/1ORa53OUBFk/s1600/last.jpg










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Trade War …

Posted on October 7, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Chinese Wisdom |

New York Post – Steven W. Mosher is the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.”

With China still running a record trade surplus with the US, it seems premature — to say the least — to say that Trump has won his long-overdue trade war with China.

But it is not too early to conclude that, despite their threat of retaliatory tariffs, China’s Communist authorities know that they have lost.

The increased tariffs to date, combined with the threat of more, have already clipped the wings of China’s economic rise. Its stock market is down 21 percent year over year, industrial output is slowing and its currency is weakening.

Looking beyond the bluff and bluster emanating from Beijing, there is evidence that Party leader Xi Jinping is looking for a way to stand down.

Let’s read the Chinese tea leaves.

In early July Xi ordered state-media outlets to tone down their rhetoric. “Self-deception and boasting will not bring about true self-confidence and pride,” the official Communist Party newspaper dutifully editorialized.

This sudden modesty was a striking turnabout from five years of constant bragging — by none other than “Core Leader” Xi himself.

Almost from the moment he took power in 2012, the Chinese leader was so confident that his own country’s rise was unstoppable, and so certain that America was in terminal decline, that he openly boasted about the China-dominated world to come.

The Art of War has met The Art of the Deal. And The Art of the Deal has won.

He even drew up a series of grandiose plans — China would dominate high tech by 2025, the Asia-Pacific region by 2035 and the world by 2049.

Xi may try to blame his propaganda flacks for overdoing it, but the Chinese people know who is responsible. In backing off the braggadocio, Xi is “slapping his own face,” as the Chinese say.

The Chinese state-run media has been busily throwing up a smokescreen to cover Xi’s retreat. It has launched increasingly unhinged attacks on what it calls the “lunatic,” “insane” and “terroristic” Trump administration.

After all, the masses must be told who to blame for China’s recent economic difficulties.

The official Global Times has even published an article calling for US administration officials to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.

In private, however, senior Chinese officials have come to view Trump as a Sun Tzu-like strategic genius.

Yes, you heard me right.

After the election, Xi Jinping tried to rope Europe and other Asian countries into a new, anti-US coalition, only to see this initiative fail.

The EU recoiled from Xi’s embrace and is now in serious free and fair trade talks with Washington.

Even the Philippines, which Xi tried desperately to woo with the promise of billions in investments, has now backed away from China.

But as Xi was stumbling, Trump went on the offensive. He signed a new trade agreement with South Korea and expanded defense cooperation with Japan and Australia.

Using the threat of tariffs as leverage, he even got Xi to agree to UN sanctions against North Korea, stifling the economy of China’s only formal ally.

This week, with the successful renegotiation of a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada — the USMCA — Trump is now able to control China’s access to the entire North American market.

Beijing officials now realize, even if many in the US foreign policy establishment don’t, that they are facing a master tactician, one who is moving steadily from deal to deal, getting as many concessions as he can, and then moving on the next.

But they also see Trump as not just transactional, but strategic. He is pressuring China not just on the economic front, but on the military and ideological front as well. They fear that his goal is not just to rectify the trade deficit, but to eliminate the threat that a rising China poses to the US.

The Chinese have been set on their heels by an American adversary who quotes Sun Tzu: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

The Art of War has met The Art of the Deal. And The Art of the Deal has won.

Only the terms of the surrender remain to be negotiated.

China is eager to resume talks but, as Trump said this week, he is in no hurry to reach a deal.

I am pretty sure he means that China is not yet sufficiently subdued.

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Korean War – Valor …

Posted on September 29, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Chinese Wisdom |

Gen Bhimaya – 

A courageous battle fought by the First Gloucester in the Battle of Imjin River is worthy of mention. The Battalion’s indomitable courage gained precious time for the Corps to organize Seoul’s defense.
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When determined efforts to link with the encircled Battalion failed, Col Carne, the commanding officer, ordered the coy commanders to break out.
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Only 38 soldiers from D Coy eventually made it. Two VCs and one GC were awarded to the Battalion.
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On return to England, the City Freedom was awarded to the entire Battalion, which marched through the city, with Col Carne, VC in the lead, and cheered by the entire city!
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In a somber ceremony at Honolulu’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in early August 18, the remains of 55 U.S. troops who fought and died in the Korean War were repatriated from North Korea. Of those 55, 35 were service members recovered from the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

Chosin was the site of the first major engagement, in November 1950, between Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s United Nations coalition force, spearheaded by Gen. Oliver Smith of the First Marine Division, and Mao Zedong’s People’s Volunteer Army.

Until that point, Beijing had refrained from lending military support to Pyongyang, which had sparked the war five months earlier by invading South Korea. As U.N. troops appeared close to destroying the North Korean army and putting an unfettered force on China’s doorstep, Mao finally decided to join the fray.

The U.S. Army and other coalition forces were also involved, but the Battle of Chosin Reservoir holds a special place in Marine Corps lore—alongside Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima and Khe Sanh—notable not as one of the Marines’ greatest victories but one of military history’s greatest tactical retreats.

Countless books have been written about this storied battle, recounting many individual acts of bravery, as well as the maneuvers and strategies that helped extricate the troops from an unwinnable battle amid treacherous weather conditions.

Subzero temperatures not only froze to death in their foxholes some of the ill-equipped Chinese troops, but also saved the lives of many coalition fighters by freezing otherwise life-threatening wounds. Among Marines, the battle has come to be known as “The Frozen Chosin.” Those who survived are reverentially referred to as “The Chosin Few.”

Some of the best books on the subject include “Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950,” by Martin Russ, and “Frozen Chosin,” by Edwin H. Simmons—both authors had served in the war—and “The Last Stand of Fox Company,” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, who provide a more focused telling of one Marine company’s ordeal in the battle.

To this pantheon we can now add Hampton Sides’s “On Desperate Ground,” which hits all the right notes in the novelistic way that histories are written today.

Mr. Sides does an admirable job of balancing the book’s two storylines, explaining the upper-echelon politics that put the Marines in such a precarious position, and the on-the-ground planning, execution and sheer bravery that helped them escape.

To Mr. Sides, the Marines’ Gen. Smith is the hero of the story, and rightly so. Smith had the better understanding of the conflict his men were thrust into, even as he was being thwarted at almost every turn by MacArthur and his staff.

As commander of the U.N. forces, MacArthur had ambitions to further aggrandize himself in the Far East. He greatly underestimated the willingness of the Chinese leaders to engage the Americans, and the difficulty his own troops would have against a force that was numerically, if not militarily, superior.

MacArthur had surrounded himself with yes-men so beholden to and in awe of the general that they refused to believe their own intelligence reports about Chinese troop movements.

Mr. Sides makes the legitimate argument that the ill-informed hubris of MacArthur and his staff, rather than the deadly fighting on the ground, played the biggest role in causing the Chosin Reservoir casualties.

Mr. Sides sets the scene well, beginning with the Battle of Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950, when U.N. forces invaded the seaside South Korean town to expel North Korean forces.

MacArthur ignored his ground commanders when they warned that Inchon was a poor choice for an amphibious landing. Luckily for him, the North Koreans put up only a token resistance. “The reason it looked simple,” Smith said later, “was that professionals were doing it.”

From there U.N. forces proceeded northeast toward Seoul. Smith cautioned MacArthur that the troops were moving too far, too fast. But MacArthur had imposed a deadline of Sept. 25 for liberating the capital city—three months to the day North Korea invaded the South.

The only way to meet MacArthur’s target was to thoroughly bombard the city. When, on Sept. 29, the general visited a not-quite-liberated Seoul, he was aghast at the destruction that resulted from his own rash and ill-advised orders.

It was with this same hubris that MacArthur and his staff, ensconced in their palatial headquarters in downtown Tokyo, convinced President Truman that China had no intention of joining the war. The path to Pyongyang was supposed to offer little resistance.

MacArthur ordered his troops to proceed north, through narrow mountain passes carved with steep ravines and onto the high, flat ground around the Chosin Reservoir, an ideal staging ground for what the Chinese feared (and MacArthur hoped) would be an advance into communist China.

As Mr. Sides explains, the Marines knew they were walking into a trap. Even MacArthur’s own intelligence reports warned that Chinese forces had already crossed the Yalu River into North Korea. The general refused to believe them, attributing the sightings to rogue units, not a broader strategy.

Realizing he could do nothing but obey orders, Smith planned his defenses well. At Chosin, he ordered that a runway be built, to help, Mr. Sides writes, with “bringing in and taking out everything Smith needed to keep his division alive.”

Smith also placed troops on the perimeter of the reservoir, pre-emptively taking the high ground from the Chinese.

Despite this planning, the Marines’ biggest foe would be the weather, which, in Edwin Simmons’s own description, was cold enough “to numb the spirit as well as the flesh.”

The freezing temperatures were “a physical force you had to reckon with,” another Marine told Mr. Sides. “It got down into the marrow of our bones.”

On the evening of Nov. 27, all of MacArthur’s prognostications were proved ridiculous—and all of Smith’s planning paid off. The Chinese, some 150,000 strong, charged up the hillsides toward the U.N. positions, which were manned by some 30,000 troops (about half of which were Marines).

Mr. Sides does some of his best work recounting the combat, thanks in part to his interviews with Hector Cafferata, who saw the worst of it with Fox Company. (Cafferata died in 2016, at the age of 86.)

Twenty-four Marines were killed, more than 50 wounded and three were missing. Fox Company lost nearly a third of its force that night. “The Chinese casualties, on the other hand, were more difficult to ascertain, but they were impressive,” Mr. Sides writes.

Some Chinese troops charged the Marine positions with crude weapons; Cafferata describes these as being “almost archaic in some cases,” including “a long pole at the end of which a knife had been attached with string.”

Sometimes the Chinese charged with no weapons at all. As Cafferata’s squad leader surveyed the scene the next morning, he estimated that “two enemy platoons had been destroyed.”

Over the course of the two-week battle, the Marine-led forces fought bravely. According to best estimates, their casualties totaled around 10,000 troops, some 4,300 of them Marines. More than 7,000 other Marines suffered noncombat injuries, primarily frostbite.

By contrast, the Chinese reported roughly 50,000 killed or wounded, but some estimates put that figure as high as 60,000. “Was it this bad on Okinawa?” Cafferata remembers asking. “Doesn’t matter where you are,” his sergeant replied. “When the lead is flying, that’s the worst place you’ve ever been.”

Despite their massive casualties, however, the Chinese made it so that all the coalition could do was defend its position. MacArthur was eventually persuaded that the Chosin Reservoir stalemate was untenable.

If left there, his troops would have been decimated by the weather and Chinese reinforcements. China’s entry into the war changed everything.

Instead of simply mopping up what was left of the North Koreans, the U.N. coalition had to completely rethink how it would deal with its new foe. The smartest thing to do, MacArthur realized, was to retreat and regroup.

Smith led his troops through one choke point after another, encountering attacks by the remnants of the Chinese force, until they reached the harbor in Hamhung, almost 80 miles away, where they boarded ships, pulling out of North Korea entirely and sailing south to regroup around Pusan.

In the end, it was one of the greatest retreats in military history. It’s a story Marines are rightly proud of and one that should be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about the remains that just returned home from Korea, and why those men deserve to be remembered.

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Tale of Trump Loyalists …

Posted on August 25, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers |

https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2018/08/26/dana-milbank-dark-times/

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Response to a Protester …

Posted on July 13, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts |

They say the US Lost the Viet Nam War courtesy their Free Press …. Here is One Response to one such Protester …

On a rainy afternoon, a group of protesters were gathered outside the grocery store handing out pamphlets on “T he  evils  of America . ”   I politely declined to take one.

There was an elderly woman behind me and a young (20-ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined.

The young protester gently put her hand on the old woman’s shoulder and in a patronizing voice said, “Don’t you care about the children of Iraq?”

The old woman looked up at her and said: “Honey, my father died in France during World War II, I lost my husband in Korea, and a son in Vietnam.

All three died so a naive, ignorant, self-centered bimbo like you could have the right to stand here and badmouth our country … and if you touch me again, I’ll shove this umbrella up your ass and open it.”

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Murderous Intent …

Posted on June 30, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers |

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/06/29/lawyer-describes-dangerous-jarrod-ramos/747466002/

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Be Safe – Not Sorry …

Posted on June 11, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts |

There was a woman standing by the mall entrance passing out flyers to all the women going in. The woman had written the flyer herself to tell about an experience she had, so that she might warn other women.                                      .
 The previous day, this woman had finished shopping, went out to her car and discovered that she had a flat. She got the jack out of the trunk and began to change the flat. A nice man dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase walked up to her and said, ‘I noticed you’re changing a flat tyre. Would you like me to take care of it for you?’                                                           .
The woman was grateful for his offer and accepted his help. They chatted amiably while the man changed the flat, and then put the flat tyre and the jack in the trunk, shut it and dusted his hands off.                                                  .

The woman thanked him profusely, and as she was about to get in her car, the man told her that he left his car around on the other side of the mall, and asked if she would mind giving him a lift to his car. She was a little surprised and asked him why his car was on the other side.                                .

He explained that he had seen an old friend in the mall that he hadn’t seen for some time and they had a bite to eat, chatted for a while, and he got turned around in the mall, left through the wrong exit, and now he was running late.                                                                                                                      .

The woman hated to tell him ‘no’ because he had just rescued her from having to change her flat tyre all by herself, but she felt uneasy. (Trust that gut feeling!) Then she remembered seeing the man put his briefcase in her trunk before shutting it and before he asked her for a ride to his car.                . ….
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She told him that she’d be happy to drive him around to his car, but she just remembered one last thing she needed to buy. (Smart woman!) She said she would only be a few minutes; he could sit down in her car and wait for her; she would be as quick as she could be. She hurried into the mall, and told a security guard what had happened.                                                                            .
The guard came out to her car with her, but the man had left. They opened the trunk, took out his locked briefcase and took it down to the police station.                                                                                                                                .
The police opened it (ostensibly to look for an ID so they could return it to the man). What they found was rope, duct tape, and knives. When the police checked her ‘flat’ tyre, there was nothing wrong with it: the air had simply been let out. It was obvious what the man’s intention was, and obvious that he had carefully thought it out in advance.                         .
The woman was blessed to have escaped harm. (Amen, thank You God!) How much worse it would have been if she had children with her and had them wait in the car while the man fixed the tyre, or if she had a baby strapped into a car seat? Or if she’d gone against her judgement and given him a lift?
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BE SAFE and NOT SORRY!

 

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What the Army in Kashmir Thinks …

Posted on April 18, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities, Searching for Success, Uncategorized |

This NYT Article by Phil Klay, a Marine Corps Vet, fully applies to the Indian Army in Kashmir and the NE – 
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“We’re at war while the Nation is at the Mall.”

I’m not sure when I first heard this in Iraq, but even back in 2007 it was already a well-worn phrase, the logical counterpart to George W. Bush’s arguing after the Sept. 11 attacks that we must not let the terrorists frighten us to the point “where people don’t shop.”

Marines had probably started saying it as early as 2002. “We’re at war while America is at the mall,” some lance corporal muttered to another as they shivered against the winds rushing down the valleys in the Hindu Kush. “We’re at war while America is at the mall,” some prematurely embittered lieutenant told his platoon sergeant as they drove up to Nasiriyah in a light armored vehicle.

Whatever the case, when I heard it, it sounded right. Just enough truth mixed with self-aggrandizement to appeal to a man in his early 20s. Back home was shopping malls and strip clubs.

Over here was death and violence and hope and despair. Back home was fast food and high-fructose corn syrup. Over here, we had bodies flooding the rivers of Iraq until people claimed it changed the taste of the fish. Back home they had aisles filled wall to wall with toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant and body spray. Over here, sweating under the desert sun, we smelled terrible. We were at war, they were at the mall.

The old phrase popped back into my head recently while I was shopping for baby onesies on Long Island — specifically, in the discount section on the second floor of the Buy Buy Baby. Yes, I was at the mall, and America was still at war.

There’s something bizarre about being a veteran of a war that doesn’t end, in a country that doesn’t pay attention. At this point, I’ve been out of the military far longer than I was in, and the weight I place on the value of military life versus civilian life has shifted radically. On the one hand, I haven’t lost my certainty that Americans should be paying more attention to our wars and that our lack of attention truly does cost lives.

“We’ve claimed war-weariness, or ‘America First,’ and turned a blind eye to the slaughter of 500,000 people and suffering of millions more,” the former Marine Mackenzie Wolf pointed out in a March essay on America’s unconscionable lack of action in Syria up to that point.

On the other hand, I’m increasingly convinced that my youthful contempt for the civilians back home was not just misplaced, but obscene and, frankly, part of the problem.

After four United States soldiers assigned to the Army’s Third Special Forces Group were killed in an ambush in Niger, the American public had a lot of questions. Why were they in combat in Niger? What was their mission? How do you pronounce “Niger”?

Answering these questions would have required a complex, sustained discussion about how America projects force around the world, about expanding the use of Special Operations forces to 149 countries, and about whether we are providing those troops with well-thought-out missions and the resources to achieve them in the service of a sound and worthwhile national security strategy.

And since our troops were in Niger in a continuation of an Obama administration policy that began in 2013, it also would have meant discussing the way that administration ramped up “supervise, train and assist” missions in Africa, how it often tried to blur the line between advisory and combat missions to avoid public scrutiny, and how the Trump administration appears to have followed in those footsteps. It would have required, at a bare minimum, not using the deaths as material for neat, partisan parables.

Naturally, we didn’t have that conversation. Instead, a Democratic congresswoman who heard the president’s phone call to the widow of one of the fallen soldiers informed the news media that Mr. Trump had ineptly told the grieving woman that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Quickly, Americans shifted from a discussion of policy to a symbolic battle over which side, Democratic or Republican, wasn’t respecting soldiers enough. Had the president disrespected the troops with his comment? Had Democrats disrespected the troops by trying to use a condolence call for political leverage? Someone clearly had run afoul of an odd form of political correctness, “patriotic correctness.”

Since, as recent history has shown us, violating the rules of patriotic correctness is a far worse sin in the eyes of the American public than sending soldiers to die uselessly, the political battle became intense, and the White House was forced to respond. And since in a symbolic debate of this kind nothing is better than an old soldier, the retired Marine general and current chief of staff, John Kelly, was trotted out in an Oct. 19 news conference to defend the president.

He began powerfully enough, describing what happens to the bodies of soldiers killed overseas, and bringing up his own still painful memories of the loss of his son, who died in Afghanistan in 2010. He spoke with pride of the men and women in uniform.

But then, in an all too common move, he transitioned to expressing contempt for the civilian world. He complained that nothing seemed to be sacred in America anymore, not women, not religion, not even “the dignity of life.”

He told the audience that service members volunteer even though “there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required.” He said veterans feel “a little bit sorry” for civilians who don’t know the joys of service.

To cap things off, he took questions only from reporters who knew families who had lost loved ones overseas. The rest of the journalists, and by extension the rest of the American public who don’t know any Gold Star families, were effectively told they had no place in the debate.

Such disdain for those who haven’t served and yet dare to have opinions about military matters is nothing new for Mr. Kelly. In a 2010 speech after the death of his son, Mr. Kelly improbably claimed that we were winning in Afghanistan, but that “you wouldn’t know it because successes go unreported” by members of the “‘know it all’ chattering class” who “always seem to know better, but have never themselves been in the arena.”

And he argued that to oppose the war, which our current secretary of defense last year testified to Congress we were not winning, meant “slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to the nation.”

This is a common attitude among a significant faction of veterans. As one former member of the Special Forces put it in a social media post responding to the liberal outcry over the deaths in Niger, “We did what we did so that you can be free to naïvely judge us, complain about the manner in which we kept you safe” and “just all around live your worthless sponge lives.” 

His commentary, which was liked and shared thousands of times, is just a more embittered form of the sentiment I indulged in as a young lieutenant in Iraq.

It can be comforting to reverse the feelings of hopelessness and futility that come with fighting seemingly interminable, strategically dubious wars by enforcing a hierarchy of citizenship that puts the veteran and those close to him on top, and everyone else far, far below.

But John Kelly’s contempt for modern civilian life wasn’t a pep talk voiced in a Humvee traveling down an Iraqi highway, or at a veterans’ reunion in a local bar. He was speaking to the American people, with the authority of a retired general, on behalf of the president of the United States of America. And he was letting us know our place.

Those with questions about military policy are being put in their place more and more often these days. When reporters later asked the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, about some of Mr. Kelly’s claims, which had proved false, she said, “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s highly inappropriate.”

It was an echo of the way Sean Spicer tried to short-circuit debate about the death of a Navy SEAL in Yemen by claiming that anyone who questioned the success of the raid “owes an apology” to the fallen SEAL.

Serious discussion of foreign policy and the military’s role within it is often prohibited by this patriotic correctness. Yet, if I have authority to speak about our military policy it’s because I’m a citizen responsible for participating in self-governance, not because I belonged to a warrior caste.

If what I say deserves to be taken seriously, it’s because I’ve taken the time out of my worthless sponge life as a concerned American civilian to form a worthy opinion. Which means that although it is my patriotic duty to afford men like John Kelly respect for his service, and for the grief he has endured as the father of a son who died for our country, that is not where my responsibility as a citizen ends.

I must also assume that our military policy is of direct concern to me, personally. And if a military man tries to leverage the authority and respect he is afforded to voice contempt for a vast majority of Americans, if he tries to stifle their exercise of self-governance by telling them that to question the military strategy of our generals and our political leaders is a slight to our troops, it’s my patriotic duty to tell him to go pound sand.

If we don’t do this, we risk our country slipping further into the practice of a fraudulent form of American patriotism, where “soldiers” are sacred, the work of actual soldiering is ignored and the pageantry of military worship sucks energy away from the obligations of citizenship.

I understand why politicians and writers and institutions choose to employ the trope of veterans when it comes to arguing for their causes. Support for our military remains high at a time when respect for almost every other institution is perilously low, so pushing a military angle as a wedge makes a certain kind of sense. But our peacetime institutions are not justified by how they intermittently intersect with national security concerns — it’s the other way around.

Our military is justified only by the civic life and values it exists to defend. This is why George Washington, in his Farewell Orders to the Continental Army, told his troops to “carry with them into civil society the most conciliating dispositions” and “prove themselves not less virtuous and useful as citizens than they have been persevering and victorious as soldiers.”

Besides, let’s not pretend that living a civilian life — and living it well — isn’t hard. A friend of mine, an officer in the Army Reserves, told me that one of his greatest leadership challenges came not overseas, but when a deployment to Afghanistan got canceled and his men were called to the difficult and often tedious work of being husbands, fathers, members of a community.

My wife and I are raising two sons — the older one is 2 years old, the little one 6 months. And as we follow our national politics with occasional disgust, amusement, horror and hope, we regularly talk about the sort of qualities we want to impress upon our boys so they can be good citizens, and how we can help cultivate in them a sense of service, of gratitude for the blessings they have, and a desire to give back.

It’s a daunting responsibility. Right now, though, the day-to-day work of raising these kids doesn’t involve a lot of lofty rhetoric about service. It involves drool, diapers and doing the laundry. For me, it means being that most remarkable, and somehow most unremarkable of things — a dad.

Which is how I found myself that day, less a Marine veteran than a father, shopping with the other parents at Buy Buy Baby, recalling that old saying, “We’re at war while America is at the mall.” I wondered about the anonymous grunt poet who coined it. Whoever he was, there’s a good chance that even by the time I heard it, he’d already done his four years and gotten out.

Maybe he’d left the Corps, settled into civilian life. Maybe he was in school. Perhaps he was working as a schoolteacher, or as a much-derided civil servant in some corner of our government. Perhaps he found that work more satisfying, more hopeful and of more obvious benefit to his country than the work he’d done in our mismanaged wars.

Or perhaps, if he was as lucky as I have been, he was in some other mall doing exactly what I was — trying to figure out the difference between 6M and 3-6M baby onesies. If so, I wish him well.

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