The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview

7
A Kind Word for the Military

Today the old saying, "God help the poor sailors on a night like this," has a wider application and should be stated in these words: "God help the military at this time in our history."

The United States military has been operating under the most severe policy handicap, or rather policy vacuum, of any modern military organization.

In the first place, it is misnamed. It is a War Department, involving both offensive and defensive action. Yet it is called the Department of Defense, in keeping with the spirit of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, which outlawed aggressive wars. There have been only defenders on both sides in all wars since.

There are two things wrong with calling the military the Department of Defense. First, it is dishonest. The sending of Marines to Lebanon by President Eisenhower in 1958 could not by any stretch of military definition be considered defensive action. Nor could President Johnson's intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965 be considered defensive action. Vietnam, despite all the excuses given for our involvement there, was never vital or necessary to the defense of the United States.

The second thing wrong with using the word "defense" to describe our military department is that it encourages a mentality which is open-ended as to commitment. Our military forces today are charged with the responsibility of defending this country as well as others against all enemies -- foreign and domestic, present and future, real and imagined -- without clear definition of who the enemy is, where he is, or what he is.

When one thinks defensively, the threat or fear always rises to the level of the deterrent and then surpasses it, thus requiring another increase of the deterrent. Thus we moved from atomic bombs

-45-

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The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction by Tom Wicker vii
  • Preface xix
  • Part I - Institutions 1
  • 1 - Toward a More Responsible Presidency 3
  • 2 - The Vice President as Crown Prince 15
  • 3 - Changes in the Congress 19
  • 4 - The Courts, the Last Appeal 28
  • 5 - Court of Ideas 32
  • 6 - A Kind Word for the Bureaucrats 35
  • 7 - A Kind Word for the Military 45
  • 8 - A Warning About the Military Establishment 49
  • 9 - The Cia and the Inner Ring 58
  • 10 - The Corporations 61
  • 11 - The Universities 68
  • 12 - The Democratic and Republican Parties 75
  • 13 - Alternatives to the Major Parties 80
  • Part II - Operations 87
  • 14 - A Hard Look at the Primaries 89
  • 15 - Personality Cults 96
  • 16 - The Cult of the Expert 97
  • 17 - A Good and Becoming Exit 100
  • 18 - Listen to Mr. Parkinson 104
  • 19 - The Sst: Object Lesson in Dynamics of Opposition 106
  • 20 - The Lobbyists 109
  • 21 - Grant Park, Chicago 116
  • 22 - Marching on Washington 118
  • 23 - Changing America 122
  • Part III - Principles 125
  • 24 - Innocence in Politics 127
  • 25 - Language and Politics 130
  • 26 - Poetry and War 135
  • 27 - Ares 144
  • 28 - Intellectuals and Politics 148
  • 29 - Out of Phase 155
  • 30 - Trouble in the Economics Community 158
  • 31 - Constitutional Amendments 165
  • 32 - Five Systems of Justice 170
  • 33 - The Enemies List 173
  • 34 - Censorship 182
  • Part IV - A Good Person is Not So Hard to Find 185
  • 35 - John Bennett 187
  • 36 - Emerson Hynes 189
  • 37 - John Kennedy 190
  • 38 - Dan and Doris Kimball 193
  • 39 - Robert Lowell 196
  • 40 - Wayne Morse 197
  • 41 - Lewis Mumford 203
  • 42 - Eleanor Roosevelt 205
  • 43 - Frank Rosenblatt 207
  • 44 - Adlai Stevenson 208
  • Notes 215
  • Index 223
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