Jingoism [or How I Blackmail America]

This is an ongoing project that started as a Facebook album.  I decided it would be wise to transfer the bulk of my commentary to the blogosphere.  The project is motivated by military commentators who, on one hand, claim to be performing an inglorious but necessary duty for their country while, on the other hand, arrogantly demanding unqualified praise for certain imagined services to the citizenship.  One of the popular sub-themes in such commentary is contempt for the First Amendment of the Constitution combined with valuation of the Iraq War for its own sake.  Here’s the latest from your reluctant heroes:


Thanks so much for fighting in Iraq.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to live the American Way.


  1. I’m a fan of the project.

  2. Robert E Kelly says:

    This is actually a very, very important concern and very underdiscussed. The moral weight in the discussion over the US use of force is heavily tilted toward the voice of combat veterans (hence McCain’s enormous clout). As you say, insisting on military service opens the possibility of blackmail (sharp choice of words there) by suggesting that those who were never in the military should not participate as much. So those who did not serve and recommend force are ‘chicken hawks,’ while those who did not serve and counsel retreat from Iraq (or Vietnam) are wimps unwilling to carry a gun.Either way, this is effectively the ‘Starship Troopers’ model. Nichols has a very valuable post on this: http://tomnichols.net/blog/2012/04/11/politics-and-the-u-s-military-crossing-the-line/.

    The result then is the civilian leadership’s extraordinary deference to military opinion (thank you Fox News). This is why Republicans particularly say the will pretty much do whatever ‘their commanders tell them’ (Romney’s pat answer to every tough question about American force in the GOP debates: http://asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/foreign-policy-of-the-gop-debate-2-the-creepy-relish-for-violence/).

    There are several obvious problems however (http://saideman.blogspot.kr/2012/02/civ-mil-spat-of-weekend.html and http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/29/yale_flunks_academic_freedom):

    1. Permanent deference to the generals eviscerates civilian control.
    2. Informally screening out commentary from those who did not serve narrows the discussion dramatically, specifically bureaucratically bounding debate to within military institutions. Lots of other options will be missed
    3. Most importantly, it is very, very antidemocratic in that less than 1% of the country has served in the military.

    So, if we are going to fight all these wars all the time now (post-Cold War, post-9/11), maybe we should bring back national service (as in Korea, where I live), because that defuses the uncomfortable, highly sensitive issues of service or no in the political debate.

    Great post.

  3. Jaylemeux says:

    Thanks for your insightful comment, Robert.

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