Some years ago (June 2000), I wrote about the demise of the “warrior class” in America and the degree to which the military experience and the commitment to military service have been diluted in America’s leadership class. To me, this is a troubling development, because I have always believed, particularly since the time of my service, that military service has been the “great leveler” for American youth, primarily males, as it cut across race, class, social, and economic lines in assimilating its recruits into service to the country. Despite its valiant dedication to our current mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, the all-volunteer military isn’t the same and the post-Vietnam, pre-9/11 generation missed this experience which, for most of our history, had been a “rite of passage” for us.
Now, six years after the most devastating attack in our nation’s history and in the midst of a significant external threat to our civilization, the divide seems much worse. The military and the civilian culture it serves are becoming even more estranged. Surveys show that large majorities of military personnel are annoyed by what they see as a breakdown in virtues like honesty and sacrifice within civilian institutions, and believe that civilians are in the midst of a moral crisis. And then we have the growing distrust between the elites of the left and our military leadership as manifest in the newspaper ad placed by MoveOn.org on the day of Gen. David Petraeus’ appearance before Congress, a shameful accusation of the worst possible kind levied at a career officer who has dedicated his life to our country’s service at great personal risk.
But it goes even deeper than that. Irresponsible groups such as MoveOn.org and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media feel that they can resort to such tactics with impunity because elected leaders from the left either condone or are complicit in them, and too often themselves resort to the politics of destruction of their opponents’ legitimacy and integrity. In fact, recent polling by the Pew Research Center shows that 76% of Republicans have confidence in the military to provide an accurate picture of the war, while only 36% of Democrats do. This is not a healthy situation. We can survive a political divide, but we cannot effectively defend our country and the civilization it leads with a large segment of our leadership elite viewing our military as a foreign culture and without trust in the integrity and fidelity of our military leaders, and no great republic can endure without an effective, committed warrior class.
Incidentally, the Republican Senate resolution to condemn the MoveOn.org “betray us” ad passed 72-25, with a majority of Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, among the “no” votes refusing to condemn. Is there any remaining doubt about the degree to which MoveOn.org and the antiwar left have Democratic foreign policy in a hammer lock?