Since the 1968 presidential election, the Republicans have held the mantle of national security and they have deserved it. The Democrats have been the party of pacifism and retreat. History simply will not allow the Democrats to run from this label as their forced retreat from Vietnam demonstrated and their softness with regards to the former Soviet Union proves. On EVERY MAJOR NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE the Democrats have been WRONG. At least they are consistent. In opposition for most of my life, the Republicans have stood with America and argued for greater American security at nearly every turn. They argued consistently for a tougher stance against communism both in Eurasia and in South America. They favored programs designed to challenge the Soviets and ultimately produced Ronald Reagan who defeated the Soviets by confronting them and competing with them on every front. It was as he said, “Simple, we win they lose.” Ultimately it broke their backs and not the US bank. But today, Republicans risk something far greater than self-defeat in Iraq; they face demoralizing permanently the armed forces that protect this country.
The morale among America’s armed forces following Vietnam was abysmal. Drug use flourished, ships could not put to sea, and army divisions were divisions in name only. It was the era of the hollow military and it corresponded with the Carter administration and continued Democratic majorities in Congress. Democratic Senator Frank Church systematically dismantled the US intelligence apparatus; a legacy that haunts America today as it still suffers from the loss of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) assets. After Vietnam the US decided that an all-volunteer military was the best avenue towards a professional military capable of meeting all threats along the spectrum of conflict. From low-intensity conflict to global nuclear conflagration, a new armed force was created but still remained undermanned and under-funded. Throughout the bleak times of Democratic leadership, the Republicans consistently fought to keep America’s fighting forces second to none and were willing to gamble political capital to make their case. Ultimately they were successful and the election of President Reagan ushered in better funding and most importantly better morale.
America began to respect the armed forces once again as they time and again demonstrated their professionalism and dedication to the nation whether in the skies over the Gulf of Sidra, taking down the Achille Lauro from terrorists or on Grenada. No longer were soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen ashamed or embarrassed to wear their uniforms. They wore them with pride and their fellow citizens respected them for their service. The point to be made here is that the armed forces were supported consistently and often at great political cost by ONE party, the Republicans and that support was rewarded by fidelity and electoral support. Today, Republicans risk discarding that trust for crass political expediency. Instead of demonstrating leadership “under fire,” political fire, the type of leadership they demand of their armed forces under REAL FIRE, they are now joining the sirens song of cut and run orchestrated by the Democrats and their wholly owned subsidiary, the mainstream media.
The cost of this strategy by Republicans will leave a vacuum for military members. Who among us in uniform will trust ANY politician with her life? Who among our professional VOLUNTEER military class will willingly allow his children to serve knowing that neither party can be trusted to lead? The threat to American society and freedom is that no one will serve because the political class cannot be trusted with our lives and the lives of our children. Today the army and marines are enjoying tremendous re-enlistment rates despite onerous and dangerous deployments? Why is that? It’s really quite simple, leadership, the leadership of the president and his steadfast willingness to put his political life on the line and the leadership of America’s commissioned and non-commissioned officer corps. Most members of the armed forces reflexively expect the Democrats to pay lip service to supporting them while doing all they can to see their mission fail for political gain but they have always expected the Republicans to be resolute and to stand by them. Today it appears the curtain is failing on those times and with that the morale and effectiveness of the all-volunteer force.
If the Republicans continue on this suicidal path, members of the armed forces will leave their services in droves and simply not vote.
Somehow we survived the war of 1812, the abandonment of reconstruction in 1877, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia and countless other half-assed interventions. For that matter the First and Second World wars had somewhat crappy outcomes (the First led to the Second, and the Second left half of Europe as spoils of war to a dictatorship). All of the wars featured criticism (often lots) of the Commander in Chief's decisions. Believe it or not, in spite of all the efforts to the contrary, this country is still a democracy. If this anonymous officer has a problem with that I'd really rather he resigned his commsion, took his pension, and played shuffleboard. This is not Latin America. Active Duty Military officers do not belong in politics (both sides are trying to drag the troops into this debate, both sides are being shortsighted). Oh, and does our anonymous interlocutor remember Sam Nunn?