Monday, September 03, 2007

The most important article you will read this year.

I'd like ... two armies: one for display, with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, fanfares, staffs, distinguished and doddering generals, and dear little regimental officers ... an army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country.

The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage battledress, who would not be put on display but from whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the army in which I should like to fight.

Read the rest.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200708u/kaplan-vietnam

He provides a good anthology of books written by veterans, but not published by the big publishers. The books tell the story of professonal soldiers, who fought, perhaps were tortured, perhaps were murdered by the North Vietnamese. I wonder why the publishing industry doesn't pick up any of these stories.

It is a good anthology, but I can accept the anthology without following the author to his conclusion that "frustrated professional soldiers mean that the Democracy is healthy". I am the first to accept that the soldiers are an instrument of the government, but asking total commitment to the national goals, while adding niggling restrictions in the permitted methods is not necessary for the Democracy, and is conterproductive. If the enemy has no fear of our armed forces (because the Armed Forces are hobbled by the rules of engagement) then the national goals are delayed in their achievement. That can never be positive for the Democracy.

The soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors who put their lives on the line for those goals should never be frustrated by restrictions that prevent success. That is different from necessary discussion and reasonable disagreement about what methods are best calculated to accomplish those goals.

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