The natives will not be impressed, nor will the men and women who will have to do far more shooting and dying than the plan called for, but Washington D.C. will be gratified, and the worst of the bunch, the ones who eagerly take to the party line and do none of the fighting but all of the talking will move up the promotion ladder, those who do not will be tried for war crimes in a new army that reflects the liberal belief that war is the ultimate crime.
Much of this has already happened. The United States no longer fights wars, it engages in military reconstruction projects. The aftermath of World War II has become the template for every war with the conflict as a prelude to the nation-building exercise. Occupation becomes the purpose of war and also the bloodiest part of the war. And the wars can hardly even be called wars because they are never truly fought.
The “Shock and Awe” punch is always pulled as the jets fly overhead but never hit hard enough in the new soft power age. The war is taken to the enemy just enough to cost a lot of lives, but not enough to defeat him. Instead of a definite trajectory, there is only an endless twilight, a holding action being fought by a new generation of men realizing that like their fathers, they are no longer in it to win it. The real war is being waged by politicians using troop deployments as counters for cobbling together coalitions of the people they are fighting into a working government.
Yesterday’s insurgent is tomorrow’s ally arriving to be armed and trained as a police officer or soldier and the day after tomorrow’s enemy, unexpectedly turning his weapon on the men who trained him. There is no sense in such wars, and less honor and fulfillment in fighting them. These are not the wars of a warrior culture, but of the police patrols in the more dangerous parts of Detroit, Miami or Chicago. Long senseless conflicts in which victory is not even a relevant concept, and the only hope for going home lies in following the rules of community policing when breaking bread and working out truces with the local gangs and their drug dealing warlords long enough for them to throw together a sham government that will allow Washington D.C. to declare another humanitarian mission accomplished.
The new general has all the problems of an empire, without any of the power and freedom of action of an empire. The new colonel is looking to write a book about the lessons he learned from meeting other cultures in the hopes of getting the attention of the boys upstairs who are always concerned with finding new ways of winning the hearts and minds of the people sending soldiers home in body bags. The new captain is growing a beard and learning Urdu. The new lieutenant is making sure that all the transsexual service things are comfortable and serving in a friendly welcoming environment. And the new soldier is there to represent a country that he no longer recognizes in a country where everyone is trying to kill him.
Warrior culture is still necessary, even mandatory, but it’s also outlawed. Like the urban police force, the ethos must be smuggled in under a disguise of community policing and midnight basketball. It’s there because without it nothing will happen except a tripling of the murder rate. It’s there despite the social reformers and social workers, the progressive policymakers and the visionaries in ivory towers. It’s there because when things get bad enough, the politicians who demonize guns and shame the little boys who still want to play cowboys and aliens during recess need them to save the day. And that’s the new army too.
The new soldier is expected to be a psychological cripple or a social worker with nothing in between because there is no longer any room for the warrior, only the worrier, the neurotic who knows that he is moral because he is always questioning everything except his own intelligence and his premises. He knows that he will more likely be honored for cowardice under fire, than courage under fire, and that the greatest honors will go not those who dare, but to those who exemplify a political quota. And yet among the ranks of the new soldiers, the old soldiers still predominate, doing the hard thankless work of keeping a national defense establishment that does not care for them from falling apart.