When a new president takes over the White House in 2017 not much will have changed except the occupant. The world will be the old world still. Russia, China and North Korea will continue to flex their nuclear muscles and, I suspect, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to speak with bullets, as will most of the Middle East.
In the past, to cope with the dangerous world, the United States has tried many strategies. There was George Washington’s isolationism, the Truman Doctrine, Eisenhower’s Brinkmanship and George W. Bush’s Preventative War policy. None has given us much peace, and under George W. Bush, we added the role of the world’s policeman to our agenda. To this day, “…the United States lavishes more on its armed forces than do the countries of the next seven most generously endowed militaries combined. (“Ending Endless War,” by Andrew Bacevich, Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct 2016, pg. 43.)
Whatever policy the newly elected president pursues, she or he faces three continuum. The armed forces remain designed to engage in military activism; the public remains disengaged from military activism — having dropped the draft and left “less than half a percent of Americans” to serve their country again and again. And, third, because our public is disengaged from military policy, it has less to say about how that military is used. (Ibid pg. 40)
Andrew Bacevich (Click) offers some unpleasant remedies to wake up the country. The first requires that all wars be funded in advance, through taxes, so no future generation is left to carry financial burdens from the past. Second, he would bring back the draft, requiring that the mix of soldiers represent the ethnic mix of the population as well as by gender and economic status. Third, he would have the country continue to nurture a community of like-minded nations but would insist that their military defense budgets be large enough to allow them to stand on their own.
What Bacevich proposes is a bitter pill and neither the Congress nor the new president is likely to embrace his ideas. Still, by making his proposals, he begins a necessary discussion among ourselves. One fact is certain. Our country can no longer carry the military burden of freedom by ourselves.