Too Much Uncritical Reverence for American Military Actually Hurts Soldiers

It’s ironic that certain factions within American “conservativism” want to give a blank check to the American military, and have had unquestioning faith in the ability of American “big government” to transform places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and currently tend to be trigger-happy in deploying American forces in the world’s hotspots. This seems to be a huge blind spot or contradiction to conservatives’ general skepticism toward the ability of the federal government to bring about positive change at home.

I suppose the same contradiction exists in certain factions of American liberalism: easy faith in the ability of the federal government to bring about positive change domestically, but deep skepticism about American involvement or intervention abroad.

Abe Katz writes from South Dakota: “James Fallows shows that by beatifying the United States military rather than subjecting it to the same profane critiques that Americans are so comfortable sledge-hammering into basically every other public service, we’re setting these servicemen and women up for failure.” The piece in The Atlantic is called “The Tragedy of the American Military“:

“Outsiders treat it both too reverently and too cavalierly, as if regarding its members as heroes makes up for committing them to unending, unwinnable missions and denying them anything like the political mindshare we give to other major public undertakings, from medical care to public education to environmental rules. The tone and level of public debate on those issues is hardly encouraging. But for democracies, messy debates are less damaging in the long run than letting important functions run on autopilot, as our military essentially does now.”

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