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Career military people think they are conservative. They are liberal.

Posted by John Reed on

‘Family values,’ yes; results, no

The U.S. military is very conservative with regard to religion, “family values,” patriotism, the defense budget, veterans benefits, and all that. But when it comes to how they live their lives and do their jobs, they are radical leftist liberals.

How so?

They work for the government.

They live in government housing the size of which is determined by their rank and family size. They and their dependents get 100% bottomless pit, no co-pay medical care from cradle to grave. In many assignments, they also get all their food free.

They get paid a lot for doing nothing when they retire which they can do as soon as 20 years—sooner if they have a service-connected disability. The U.S. military’s payroll for its retirees surpassed its payroll for active duty personnel decades ago. In my area, Vallejo, CA went bankrupt recently. Municipal bankruptcies are almost unheard of in the U.S. When asked why, the mayor said,

We have three police forces: one on duty and two retired.

How many Armies, Navies, Air Forces, and Marine Corps are the U.S. taxpayers now paying for?

Defend freedom? yes; Exercise it? no

They have no freedom of speech and they’re fine with that. Although they are quick to tell you they will die to protect freedom of speech. I guess they will, but I wish they would exercise that freedom more.

But here’s the biggest problem.

Good intentions = results

Career military people think good intentions are a complete substitute for results.

Liberals enact all sorts of do-gooder programs like the War on Poverty, The Great Society, Medicare, Department Education, and so on. Invariably, those programs spend enormous amounts and accomplish very little. Poverty marches on undented by the War on Poverty. We have a Not So Great Society in spite of hundreds of billions being spent to create the Great one. If we just gave the poor the per capita amount spent “helping” them, they would all be millionaires, yadda yadda.

Look! Progress!

When criticized, the liberals point to their good intentions and occasionally—progress.

Just like the U.S. military. We lost the Vietnam war and got 58,000 killed in the process. Who was punished? No one. What was changed? Nothing. To this day, the U.S. military says they had good intentions in Vietnam and they did a great job and it was somebody else’s fault we lost.

No excuse

The first words spoken to me when I entered West Point were,

Mister, From now on you have three answers: “Yes, Sir.” “No, Sir.” and “No excuse, Sir.”

That was a great lesson, but, in fact, the U.S. military has millions of excuses. Just ask them why they lost in Vietnam or Somalia or Lebanon.

Iraq is now seen as a victory. We’ll see. Afghanistan seems to be getting worse in spite of more U.S. troops there than ever before.

I am not sure the U.S. military has the resources and rules of engagement to let them win in Afghanistan, but if that’s the case, they need to tell their civilian superiors that and get out. They do not.

They endlessly point to their good intentions and occasional progress (not necessarily net progress, just bits and pieces of apparent good news). Remember the daily “Five O’Clock Follies” briefings about “the light at the end of the tunnel” for ten years in Vietnam?

No substitute for victory

In his farewell address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point, General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur said,

There is no substitute for victory.

I agree. But the radical leftists who make up the career U.S. military personnel are quite willing to substitute their War-on-Poverty-like good intentions for results for as many decades as the U.S. public will let them get away with it. There is no end in sight to the proclamations of good intentions, lack of hard results, and happy-face briefings on “progress.”

Career military figure all they have to do is look the part and talk a good game and they’ll be praised as heroes. Intentions are enough. No results required.

For the last 40 years, they have gotten away with that completely and there appears no prospect that the American people or Congress are going to hold them to account for lack of results any time soon. We have become a nation of draft dodgers and draft dodgers are afraid to criticize military personnel. The longer the U.S. military are immune from criticism and not held accountable for lack of results, the worse the condition of the national defense will become.

I expect to think of additional examples that show that career U.S. military personnel are as radical as the most die-hard leftists when it comes to the elevation of good intentions over results and other behavior patterns. I hope readers will also remind me of others they recall seeing when they were in the military. I will add them to this aricle. See also my article Process orientation versus results orientation.

FYI: I am a registered Libertarian and voted for their candidate Bob Barr in 2008. I have never been a Republican or Democrat or conservative or liberal. I believe most people are actually Libertarians but they either do not realize it or do not admit to it because they fear it will result in their being ostracized from polite society.

John T. Reed

Link to information about John T. Reed’s Succeeding book which, in part, relates lessons learned about succeeding in life from being in the military

John T. Reed military home page


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