The Founders weren't fond of standing armies. Even military men like Washington thought them inimical to liberty. They thought that we might have at best a standing navy to protect the freedom of shipping lanes, being commercial men and commercially minded, and otherwise armies could be raised in times of crisis. Having no standing army was one more disincentive to adventurism and would hopefully serve to disincline the new nation from following in the warring footsteps of the European powers. In cases of invasion or insurrection, free men would freely choose to defend their nation, their land, their families, their businesses, their properties. They would be less likely and less willing to join up in order to slay dragons abroad, as the saying went.
It wasn't a long-lasting sentiment, and by the time the Jackson broke out the cheese wheel for the Western yahoos, America's ever-kind Injun policy put the kibosh down for good on that peaceable kingdom. "It is well that war is so terrible," Robert E. Lee famously observed just a few decades later, "lest we should grow too fond of it," but he was wrong, and we grew fonder as a general trend, with occasional interruptions of isolationism, until by the end of the Second World War we loved war so much that we turned our nation over to the production of an apocalyptic power to destroy. Today, factoring in the "emergency" and supplemental monies appropriated for our war programs related activities, official appropriates alone equal about $725 billion dollars, which, for those of you keeping track, makes it about the fifteenth-largest economy (by nominal GDP) in the world, somewhere between Australia and Russia. Who knows what we spend on "intelligence." Who knows how much money floats through the private war industry, the contractors and suppliers, the arms dealers and gun runners, the market for black ops and the black market.
One of the unmoveable pieties of contemporary American life is Troops-love, and nothing twists the tits of righteous indignation faster than suggesting that your political Other isn't spiritually prostrate before "the service and sacrifice of America's fighting men and women," as Oliver Willis, a broad ruminant of gaseous progressive wisdom, recently put it. The topic was David Broder, who increasingly looks and sounds like a man who should be eating oatmeal from an offered spoon and pinching nurses' asses around the home. The question was "Do Democrats love The Troops™?" Broder said not so much. Willis popped up like Punxsatawney Phil and shrieked at his shadow. The Democrats do too love the military. They have nothing but hot, soldierly love for that aquiline good-posture-monger, Wesley Clark, who bombed his way into their hearts with a song, or sang his way into their hearts with bombs at a recent meeting of the Democratic National Committee. America's Most Hysterical Homosexual™ soon joined the chorus:
I was at the DNC meeting this past weekend, and unlike David Broder, it wasn't clear to me at all that the overwhelming majority of the audience had "no sympathy" for the military. In fact, General Clark was MOBBED the entire time he was there.Now we have recently seen Democrats mob such luminous irrelevancies as Ned Lamont, a milquetoast cable millionaire who couldn't beat a mush-mouthed goofball on the wrongest side of history since they gave Ezra Pound a spot on talk radio, so we know that the bar for Donkle mobbery is more limbo than high jump. There is also the confusion of item for category: Wesley Clark was in the military, but he isn't the earthly avatar of the platonic essence of The Troop.
Yet we know the Donkle does love him some men in uniform, doin' their duty and servin' their service and bein' brave and fightin' and soldierin' and whatever else they do in service of the empire. Your Progressive's troop-love is a part of his deep intellectual committment to have no deep intellectual committments. He claims to oppose the war and to believe it wrong, horrible, criminal, etc., but he insists on the moral sanctity of the hired help for the crime. You can't hold each individual soldier uniquely guilty for affecting policies set by his government, but this idea that the very instrument of empire should be exempted as a category and organization from the critique of imperial policy is absurd and obscene. Our "brave men and women serving in Iraq" have no right or business being there. They're occupiers. Aggressors. The Donkle says they're just doing their job. Ask: What is the nature of that job?