The Great Divide: The Crisis of U.S. Military Policy
Bacevich, Andrew J., Commonweal
Regardless of who wins the presidency in November 2008, rethinking the premises of U.S. military policy will be an urgent priority. Grasping the scope of the problem requires an appreciation of three overarching themes that have shaped the narrative of American military experience since Vietnam.
The post-Vietnam narrative began with the "Great Divorce," engineered in the early 1970s by President Richard Nixon. When Nixon abolished the draft, he severed the relationship between citizenship and military service. Although that was not Nixon's purpose, it was one very clear result of ending conscription. Contributing to the country's defense now became not a civic duty but a matter of individual choice. That choice carried no political or moral connotations.
The Great Divorce gave birth to a new professional military with an ethos that emphasized the differences between soldiers and civilians. Out of differences came distance: after Vietnam, members of the officer corps saw themselves as standing apart from (or perhaps even above) the rest of society. More than a few members of the public endorsed that view. In the lexicon of the Founders, the nation now relied on a "standing army," although Americans during the last quarter of the twentieth century chose to call it the all-volunteer force.
The second narrative thread emerged during the 1980s. This was the …
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Publication information: Article title: The Great Divide: The Crisis of U.S. Military Policy. Contributors: Bacevich, Andrew J. - Author. Magazine title: Commonweal. Volume: 135. Issue: 6 Publication date: March 28, 2008. Page number: 10+. © 1999 Commonweal Foundation. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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