Patterico's Pontifications


The Professional Warrior in a Free Society

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 11:42 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Driver, who comments here on occasion, hosts a blog that covers a wide range of topics: Music, education, politics, and the military. I learned a great deal from a recent entry entitled “On Sheepdogs …” which links to a fascinating Atlantic article by Robert D. Kaplan, “Rereading Vietnam.”

Kaplan is a professor at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman “calls Kaplan among the four ‘most widely read’ authors defining the post-Cold War (along with Francis Fukuyama, Harvard Prof. Samuel Huntington, and Yale Prof. Paul Kennedy).” His Atlantic article is excellent and worth the read. In it, he reflects on the role and attitudes of the professional soldier/warrior by reviewing the books they read and write:

Bud Day was one of America’s most decorated warriors. He wrote Duty, Honor, Country to recount his imprisonment as a POW and his philosophy that, in a soldier’s mind, “there is no such thing as defeat so long as they are still fighting, even from prison.”

Like Day, John McCain and James Stockdale were POWs who never stopped viewing themselves as warriors, even after imprisonment:

“Unlike in World War II, when the Japanese and Germans considered POWs to be liabilities and a drain on resources, the North Vietnamese considered captured American pilots as prime political assets. For POWs, not allowing themselves to be used as such meant being able to withstand years of torture. Rather than victims, men like Day, McCain, and Stockdale, once incarcerated, continued to see themselves as warriors, fighting on the most difficult of fronts.”

James B. Stockdale was a student of the classics. Philosophers, especially the Stoics, sustained him while he was imprisoned. Stoics believed physical hardship was more endurable than the shame of failing to do one’s duty:

“When Stockdale writes about Epictetus, Socrates, Homer, Cervantes, Calvin, and other writers and philosophers, their work achieves a soaring reality because he relates them to his own, extraordinary experiences as a prisoner in one of the 20th century’s most barbaric penal programs. Stockdale reminds us about something that much scholarship, with its obsession for textual subtleties, obscures: The real purpose of reading the classics is to develop courage and leadership.

Kaplan addresses Vietnam-era works like Bing West‘s The Village, Once A Warrior King: Memories of an Officer in Vietnam by David Donovan, and the earlier counterinsurgency essays of Jean Larteguy, a French novelist and war correspondent who wrote about the French in Algeria and Vietnam in the 1950’s:

“Almost half-a-century ago, this Frenchman was obsessed about a home-front that had no context for a hot, irregular war; about a professional warrior class alienated from its civilians compatriots as much as from its own conventional infantry battalions; about the need to engage in both combat and civil affairs in a new form of warfare to follow an age of what he called victory parades and ‘cinema-heroics'; about an enemy with complete freedom of action, allowed ‘to do what we didn’t dare’ …


The best units, according to Larteguy, while officially built on high ideals, are, in fact, products of such deep bonds of brotherhood and familiarity that the world outside requires a dose of “cynicism” merely to stomach. As one Green Beret wrote me, “There are no more cynical soldiers on the planet than the SF [Special Forces] guys I work with, they snort at the platitudes we are expected to parrot, but,” he went on, “you will not find anyone who gets the job done better in tough environments like Iraq.” In fact, in extreme situations like Iraq, cynics may actually serve a purpose. In the regular Army there is a tendency to report up the command chain that the mission is succeeding, even if it isn’t. Cynics won’t buy that, and will say so bluntly.

Kaplan concludes with a discussion of the inherent inconsistencies in war – that war is both idealistic and dirty, that to save liberty you must first suppress it, and that counterinsurgencies in particular can be frustrating because there are “no neat battle lines and thus no easy narrative for the people back home to follow.”

Driver calls these professional warriors Sheepdogs, a term used by retired Lt. Col. David Grossman to describe those who watch over and protect others. The term embraces the paradox of the kind, decent protector that must sometimes be violent in protecting the kind, decent sheep.

All of these writers ultimately address the civilian-military divide that may be inevitable in societies without compulsory military service. It is a divide that plagues us today and that, I submit, will continue as long as we are a moral, democratic nation. Just as I hope Americans will always decide to reasonably use force when needed, I hope we will also continue to agonize over the reasonable use of that force.

64 Responses to “The Professional Warrior in a Free Society”

  1. The divide between military=civilian is not driven by compulsory military service but by academia/Hollywood axis that sees all authority as residing with them and promoting virtues and values that would eliminate the warrior class at all costs. Be they servicemen, firemen or police, these people are viewed with contempt by this axis. Until we alter our values (who can imagine the movies and media reporting existing today being produced in WWII or during the Civil War?) so that the MSM,academia, and Hollywood promote national values instead of our enemies we may face the same situation that confronted the French in Algeria where our national interests are viewed from radically different perspectives by political elites and thuse who protect our freedoms.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  2. Sure it is, Thomas.

    They’re all out to get you.

    I see nothing wrong with the “Sheepdog” mentality…in small doses.

    But it can’t keep an unpopular war going.

    alphie (99bc18)

  3. Thomas,

    It would help if people had more direct experience with or exposure to the military. There are several ways to do that, including through the media, but compulsory military service would assure that exposure throughout society.

    Having said that, I do not favor compulsory military service because I think the negative effects would far outweigh the benefits. Thus, in that sense, your preference for a more open-minded media is the better solution.

    DRJ (bfe07e)

  4. Your post is excellent on many levels and about something not many have addressed. Kudos.

    I just want to emphasize one point however (and by doing so, please don’t think I am diminishing other points or anyone else).

    James Stockdale. What a great man.

    It’s unfortunate his mind had begun to go by the time of the Perot candidacy, but Stockdale served with honor, as did the other men.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  5. Compulsory reading the classics (or anything) to promote courage would be more reasonable and have the desired result than compulsory military service, police service, fire dept service, or medical service.

    When life is on the line you preferably do not want to depend on someone who was forced to be there.

    The allusion to sheepdogs seemed strange at first, but makes sense once explained.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  6. When life is on the line you preferably do not want to depend on someone who was forced to be there.

    A lot of brave people have been conscripted and good luck winning World War 2/1… without it.

    Yes, a smaller regional war, but a bloody general conflict.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  7. Oh, and the Israeli army. Another good case.

    With all due respect, and I admire professional soldiers as much as the next fellow, I disagree.

    Further, when a large scale war erupts, often adding civilians to the mix, volunteer or conscript, gives much needed added skills and thinking to the military that professional soldiers may have overlooked.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  8. Yes, a lot of brave people have been conscripted, and more than a few have volunteered that their colleagues could have done well without, I’m sure.

    The Israeli situation I would suggest is a bit different. It would be hard to be an Israeli, I think, and not have an appreciation of the reality of violence and warfare and that one has real enemies. (Yes, people have differing opinions on policy). We have no equivalent in our lifetime of the Six Day War, for example.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  9. Probably the IDF is not the great example of the benefits of universal conscription that it once was. For one thing, the IDF appears to have fallen to a nadir in the last decade or so. Secondly, some in the military community have reevaluated its once high reputation in the light of our experiences against arab armies.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  10. One of the reasons I don’t get in fights over the second amendment is that guns might come in handy when it its time for the people to defend ourselves against “sheepdogs.” If you don’t know what fascism is, son, it’s time to learn.
    You may need a daddy, little boy, but I don’t.

    “Francis Fukuyama, Harvard Prof. Samuel Huntington, and Yale Prof. Paul Kennedy.”
    What’s next, the pedophile Alan Bloom? Harvey Mansfield, author of “Manliness”?
    I get hard just thinking…

    AF (e7839e)

  11. Here’s your daddy “I can’t remember…”

    Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, “The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen.”
    But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush’s former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army’s dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’ ” But, he added, “Again, Hadley’s got notes on all of this stuff,” referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

    This is the putz you defend as a strong and wise leader. It’s pathetic.

    AF (e7839e)

  12. AF, your attempts to hijack threads are what are pathetic. Go troll somewhere else.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  13. In all fairness to the IDF (and the U.S. military), the tools available to insurgents have progressed far more than conventional weapons have over the past few decades.

    alphie (99bc18)

  14. And the moral of the story is: bring back the draft.
    “…the French in Algeria and Vietnam”
    And what were the French doing in Algeria and Vietnam, Robin, defending the natives from freedom?
    It was called “The French Empire”

    AF (e7839e)

  15. Yeah, every time I hear Naomi Wolf get on that ridiculous fascism kick of hers I can’t stop laughing. Even Chris Matthews had to tell her to shut up the other day. Someone should reduce her medication so she can rejoin the human race and not see the bogey man around every corner.

    No one ever asks these bozos if it is bad as they say it is why aren’t they in jail instead of on TV exposing these government plots. Doh!

    Naomi should go back to being Al Gore’s lesbian manliness coach.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  16. Christoph #4,

    Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

    I never met Admiral Stockdale but here’s what Kaplan said about Stockdale during the Perot candidacy:

    Stockdale himself is a symbol of a civilian-military divide. The very way you recall him upon hearing his name shows on what side of the divide you fall. Most civilians remember Stockdale as H. Ross Perot’s seemingly dazed vice presidential candidate, who, in the 1992 debate with Al Gore and Dan Quayle asked aloud, “Who am I? Why am I here?” and later requested that a question be repeated, since he had not turned on his hearing aid. In fact, Stockdale, a life-long student of philosophy, had meant his questions to be rhetorical, a restatement of the most ancient and essential of questions. Because of television’s ability to ruin people’s lives by catching them in an embarrassing moment in time, too few are aware that Stockdale’s vice presidential bid was insignificant compared with almost everything else he did.”

    DRJ (bfe07e)

  17. I didn’t know he was having problems with his hearing aid. I haven’t heard it was supposed to be rhetorical.

    I hope so… only because I wouldn’t want such a decent man to have suffered from declining mental abilities and if he wasn’t, that’s great.

    But are you sure this isn’t just spin?

    I was young at the time and may not have understood everything, but I watched that debate. My recollection, probably shaped by the media coverage to follow, was he was at a minimum disorientated.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  18. C –

    I don’t know either but Kaplan is a respected historian and a current professor at the Naval Academy (see the link for him in the post above). I assume Kaplan had a basis for what he wrote and I don’t see any reason he would make unsupported excuses for Stockdale, who by that time had retired from the Navy.

    DRJ (bfe07e)

  19. Well, you can be disorientated because you’re at an event where you have to perform and your hearing aid isn’t working.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  20. Alphie,

    Please tell us about the popular wars in our history?

    But, before you answer, go to any military cemetary, and visit all the Sheepdogs, and thank them for their gift…your freedom….

    Me, I do this regularly, knowing that everyone of them that died as any result of any war would have much rather not been there, that every war was unpopular, but they went anyway, and gave the sacrifice…

    And, those that didn’t die there….their sacrifice was just as great, for to risk your life and live takes even more courage than you think….

    reff (4e3fcd)

  21. Stockdale was a very thoughtful and very brave man who committed the ultimate sin in America, he didn’t look good on on TV. Dennis Miller has a brilliant rant about the stupidity of those who ridiculed him.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  22. Stockdale was asking rhetorical questions with a point that was relevant to the context, but with the media, appearance is reality.

    The point of reading the classics is not to inculcate courage and leadership, but to do two things: to teach oneself to think, and to learn the values of western civilization. The rejection of the classics by academia is the rejection of everything western (meaning EuroAmerican) civilization stands for. The good professors are trying to demolish the giants on whose shoulders they stand, with results that should be obvious.

    As far as the IDF goes, the current crisis is due to the failures of the country’s political leadership over the last two decades or so on a broad range of issues confronting Israeli society.
    It is not so much the media or the culture, as the politicians using the military for their own purposes.

    And those that thing the media was silent during the Civil War need to study up on the Copperheads. They were the reason Lincoln liked to suspend habeus corpus, more than the actual rebels in the South.

    kishnevi (11ab03)

  23. I see the Morlocks are out tonight. Poor Alphie whose talents appear to be limited to tapping in toilet stalls since his knowledge of history appears to be as pathetic as his recreational activitities. Poor Alphie should explain why “popular” wars like the Civil War were fought to their conclusion. So popular thatLincoln had to suspend the constitution; imprison 50,000 opponents and use the military to end the most violent and bloody riots this country has ever seen. Yes Alphie please do explain how a “popular” war like the War for Independence was fought through when a majority of Americans did not support the Revolution. I am in awe of an iintellect and education such as yours which substitues trite , morally rudderless pabulum for logic or intelligent thought. But putrid and puerile bumper sticker slogans must constitute what the Kos Kiddies substitue for reason.

    As for AF, another military expert whose seasons of campaigning in the sandbox with his world class collection of GI Joes reminds of his the grave error of disbanding Sadda,m’s military.

    Yes what words of wisdom. Wasn’t it brillant to retain the SS and allow it to remain intact to constitute the forces that occupied and governed Germany after WWII.

    We also get treated to the morally rudderless screed and pomposity of the village idiot class when we are informed of the merits of the Algerians and Vietnamese because the French were fighting for empire. Yes the world is a far better place since the laws that ruled empires have been replaced by the whims of petty dictators and politbors. Are we not to celebrate tyrants whose greatest boast is the millions of their own citizens massacred and the new depths of poverty their nations are reduced to?

    A profound indifference to sanity, humnaity and reason marks both of these Morlocks. This leaves me to ask only


    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  24. Haha, Thomas,

    I was just trying to say that a little lie like the “Sheepdog” analogy is fine if it gives the troops a little moral boost…but nobody outside the military believes it.

    I think the general opinon is that the actions of the U.S. military since 9/11 have actually made us less safe (and wasted a few trillion dollars of the taxpayers money, too).

    But still, the idea is harmless in small doses.

    alphie (99bc18)

  25. Alphie, given the completely ludicrous nonsense you believe, with its lack of congruence to actual reality, I’m not surprised. Fortunately, my own beliefs in those concepts are not disturbed – given your past performance.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  26. Alphie —

    You make Mr. Jackson’s point for him.

    It is NOT just the military, but anyone who works for a living in a blue collar occupation, without high prestige and social status, that liberals, leftists, and the Hollywood-Media types look down on.

    “Nerds” who work long hours coding and designing websites or software in general, construction workers, firemen, police officers (ALWAYS), carpenters, ranchers, farmers, auto workers, machinists, and so on.

    ALL the subject of ridicule, social disdain, depiction as either Archie Bunker ill-educated bigots with no social value or meaning in their lives (save being taught a lesson by upper-class hippies), or “victims” who need to learn their place (behind the tragically hip shoppers at Trader Joe’s).

    I am here to tell you there is more to life than NPR, driving a BMW (or Prius), and $200 designer jeans.

    Of course as proof of this is the contempt and viewing as the “enemy” the Liberal Leisure class for working men. Be they linemen for SCE or a Special Forces operator.

    Naturally the Leisure class hates the soldiers who protect us. How can they surrender and gain the whip hand themselves (which is all they want anyway) if people keep insisting on staving off the enemy. Be it Tojo, Stalin, Brezhnev, Mao, or Osama.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  27. Jim,

    I take it you make straw men for a living?

    alphie (99bc18)

  28. Alphie: “I think the general opinon is that the actions of the U.S. military since 9/11 have actually made us less safe (and wasted a few trillion dollars of the taxpayers money, too).”

    So, we are less safe than we were before 9-11, and it is the military’s fault???

    Guess the only way to prove it is another terrorist attack….thanks, Alphie, for wishing that on America….but, if, and when it happens, I’m glad the military will be defending you….

    reff (4e3fcd)

  29. the title of this post is incongruous, since our military is volunteer these days, unless drj is referring to our legions of professional mercenaries.

    assistant devil's advocate (bf6945)

  30. ada – Not incongruous or inappropriate if you think about it at all. It’s all about choice, something the left champions. Some people choose the military as a profession. The left’s latest attempt at redefining terms, though, is to call them mercenaries. Doesn’t work. Just as redefining genocide and ethnic cleansing in AF’s posts 60 years after the formation of Israel doesn’t work.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  31. lphie:
    Is the self parody of an 18 year old zit faced cretin who knows little but is filled to bursting with inflated ego. Tell us oh great captain where you have served and what your accomplishments are. Tell us how disarming make us safer. Tell us how we are less safe than prior to 9-11?

    I do find it entertaining to see how the uneducated presume to lecture us on subjects of which they know nothing bloasted by an experience level gained by watching the Daily Show.

    We can all rest assured that with the likes of Alphie guarding us and directing our foreign policy we will all be part of a satrapy of Albania or Guatemala. Yes there are wooves, and there are sheep, and sheep dogs, and then there are the slugs. I believe it is obvious to the casual observer what category Alphie falls.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  32. Thomas,

    Judging by your conspiracy theory filled first post, I can only imagine what you consider “education” is.

    The truth is, Hollywood is one of the last capitalistic industries left in America. Their survival depends not on government subsidies, but in pleasing their audience.

    I think if you look, you’ll find some of their products that paint your heroes in what you would consider the right way.

    alphie (99bc18)

  33. A couple of points from a Veteran and a father of Veterans.
    I was wondering if anyone else (over the age of 50) had noticed the change in society after the end of the draft?
    My intuitive sense is that at the end of the draft, there was a slow increase in crime, decline in the american family, an emphasis on world opinion, with a concommitant decrease in a personal sense of duty to community and nation.
    With compulsory military service a very important thing happens…milk-fed pampered little twits interact with other people. You are wrested from the comfort of your own neatly arranged little lives and faced with the harsh reality of rough- shod people who want to take your home,property and your life. You learn that, unpleasant as it is, there will always come a time to stand up for your country lest you and yours would be torn asunder. The old-saw boot camp/war story where, Hymie, LeRoy, Juan, Chester and Vito come together and fight as a unit, and then go on their seperate ways is one that must be lived generation to generation. This is not the only important thing learned in military service, but I’ll not post my entire thesis here.
    Having “learned people’ or “Hollywood” trying to inform our society with this and other vital lessons not only doesn’t work, but leads to the birth of a seriously weakened and self-loathing generation of over-educated, uninformed milk-fed little twits. Whose seemingly sole purpose in life is to have the approval of the rest of the world.
    Look at what Calderone said, he doesn’t care. He is LOOKING AFTER HIS OWN. Maybe, just maybe we need to do the same. Reinstate the draft, secure the perimeter, and THEN negotiate.

    Paul from Fl (ae01cb)

  34. The Draft…
    Historically, America has always relied on a small, professional (volunteer) military. We have only resorted to conscription during periods of wide-spread threat (the Civil War/War of Northern Agression, WW-1, WW-2, Cold-War/WW-3) to the survival of the country.

    Is the “Global War on Terror” WW-4 as IIRC Norman Podhoretz has labeled it? And, is it an exisential threat to the survival of the American Republic? That is the question of our times, and when we derive the answer, we will know whether or not we will have to again rely on conscription for our defense.

    Until that question is answered, it behooves all of us to be prepared to defend ourselves and our communities in whatever manner we may be called upon.

    Someone above noted that conscription brought valued civilian skills (and thinking?) into the military. This, I believe, demonstrates a basic societal unfamiliarity with the modern military, and how it is composed of Active, Reserve, Guard, and Retired components; and, how these various components are utilized by the NCA (National Command Authority for the Brie and Merlot crowd).

    The people in the Reserves, Guards, and Retired, are called into Active Duty when their particular skill-sets are required by the NCA. This is why we see continued Guard/Reserve call-ups for duty in Iraq and in support of Iraq.

    Just how many Military Police do you think an Army can keep on the active books (crime is not a big problem on military bases, you know)? But, when you need to re-build a client’s (Iraqi Gov’t) police forces, you pull Reserve and Guard units/individuals onto active-duty who have those skill-sets.

    The casualty lists are filled with guys who were working a cops in (insert name of city here). Call your county sheriff’s office and ask them how many of their deputies have been called up, or have been casualties. I think you will be surprised.

    I would like to close with these thoughts (which I carry on the back of my business cards) from another Vietnam POW, Adm. Jeremiah Denton:
    It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
    It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
    It is the soldier, not the campus orginizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
    It is the soldier,
    who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
    who allows the protester to burn the flag.

    I appologize for the length, and will retire. Thank You.

    Another Drew (758608)

  35. Getting a little credit greedy on Labor Day, aren’t you, AD?

    alphie (99bc18)

  36. Alphie:

    Stop projecting. Its clear your what your educational and academic achievements are by the counter culture ideologue screeds you make. If you had an education or an IQ beyond room temperature you might cite some arguement or evidence to refrute the points I have made.

    Hollywood makes its films not for an American audience any longer but for a world audience. Displaying such ignorance of the basics of Hollywood economics only makes you a larger pinata than you are. Hollywood’s accounting practices are a joke and trying to describe them as non government subsidized is a bad joke. Please explain how the Silence of the Lambs, according to its makers did not turn a profit?

    We all realize that your heros, Lennin, Zinn, Marx and the like are such icons for humanity. Its odd that the Soviet War memorials in Warsaw, Vienna, and Prague are know as the “Unknown Rapists” by locals. No foreigner would refer to American troops in this 2way, only retards like you. The idle, cuddled, prolonged adolescents who have never sacrificed for anything but their own self gratification, snug in the knowledge that their illusions can confort them against the realities of the world.

    With your ideological blinders firmly in place you demonstrate once again that ignorance dictates that no price is too great for “principled progressivism.” Its inbreds like you thatdemoonstrate why we need illegal aliens. Our gene pool is getting so bad we have too many individuals with IQs like yours, beneath that of brocolli.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  37. Thomas,

    It’s true that in addition to being one of the last capitalistic industries in America, Hollywood is also one of the few remaining American industries that makes products that the rest of the world wants to buy.

    Only a wingnut welfare proponent like yourself could make that into something bad.

    I’d recommend checking out “Band of Brothers” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down” to see some recent “Hollywood” output that would reinforce your beliefs.

    alphie (99bc18)

  38. “(the Civil War/War of Northern Agression,”

    Holy shit!

    AF (e7839e)

  39. I see nothing wrong with the “Sheepdog” mentality…in small doses.

    But it can’t keep an unpopular war going.

    Comment by alphie — 9/2/2007 @ 12:58 pm

    Don’t take this the wrong way alphie, but the reason you feel like this is because you are a sheep.

    You may want to angrily protest, but there it is. A certain tension between the sheep and the sheepdogs is inevitable.

    So it goes.

    sheepdog (57b25a)

  40. I like it sheepdog,

    Maybe the basis for a new TV series?

    Suggested title:

    Baa Baa Black Sheep(dog)!

    Is Robert Conrad still alive?

    alphie (99bc18)

  41. It’s true that in addition to being one of the last capitalistic industries in America, Hollywood is also one of the few remaining American industries that makes products that the rest of the world wants to buy.

    Staunch Brayer, your obtuseness and cluelessness never ceases to amaze me.

    Paul (09c70a)

  42. Sheepdog, time to get your eyes checked my friend. You are confusing sheepdip with sheep.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  43. That supposed quote in Draper’s book, makes it totally irrelevant. Why would you keep in power
    the folks who murdered, & maimed persons from the majority of Shia and Kurds. They were not the Iraqi “officer friendly” they were the ‘knock in the night” that pressed the jackboot upon Iraqi society; in favor a small Sunni Tikriti clique.
    The other tribes that composed the army and the security services, finally realized after four years; much like the Pashtun tribes re the Taliban; that we are not the real enemy.

    narciso (d671ab)

  44. Obtuse, Paul?

    Let me simplify:

    If you get your paycheck from the government…you’re a communist.

    If the government bails you out from bad descisions(where to live, what to invest in, etc.)…you’re a socialist.

    If your pay depends on how well your company competes in the global market…you’re a capitalist.

    alphie (99bc18)

  45. Not to mention that the rank and file of the Iraqi army demobilized themselves by just going home.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  46. If you get your paycheck from the government…you’re a communist.

    If the government bails you out from bad descisions(where to live, what to invest in, etc.)…you’re a socialist.

    If your pay depends on how well your company competes in the global market…you’re a capitalist.

    If your analysis and thinking are devoid of any facts, logic or reason, you’re an idiot, Staunch Brayer…something you’ve proven with virtually every comment you’ve made.

    Especially the one I quoted.

    Paul (09c70a)

  47. Another Drew–I think Paul from FL is suggesting the reverse of your idea is the truth–that universal conscription allowed military skills–discipline, the need to thoroughly plan ahead, etc.–to be injected into civilian society at the most general level; and I think it has much merit.

    AF (in 38)–the best name for the conflict of 1861-65 is probably the “War Against the States”.
    The freedom gained by blacks because of that war was probably more than outweighed by the freedoms lost to general society because of that war and its immediate sequelae. Slavery was ended: a major positive development. The Federal government became the National government: a major negative development.

    kishnevi (6910d3)

  48. To all other regular commenters and guest bloggers:

    I sincerely hope that Patrick never bans Staunch Brayer (alphie), because his writing, thinking skills and factual analysis is its own punishment. :)

    Paul (09c70a)

  49. Hello to all, thanks to DRJ for reading my little blog. A quick observation before I drop off to sleep and recovery from a rockin’ Labor Day weekend that also involved dropping off my last kid at college: Many of the comments generated by this post dwelt on one short phrase, which I think distracted from what DRJ was getting at. The phrase: “…the civilian-military divide that may be inevitable in societies without compulsory military service.” That seems to have generated a lot of heat!

    I didn’t take that phrase as a call for a resumption of the draft, and I don’t think DRJ intended it that way, either. In fact, I’m sure of it. I certainly don’t support that, and I’m sure that Lt. Col. Grossman doesn’t want that, under normal circumstances. The colonel’s description of “sheepdogs” referred to people who want to be protectors of our society and civilization. As he says, “Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be.” The emphasis being on the word “choose.” With the important caveat that there is nothing innately superior about that choice…it’s just who you are. Or aren’t. You can’t draft sheepdogs, IMO.

    driver (faae10)

  50. I see Alphie Why bother with the truth is still braying the party line. Only someone of your limited education would cite Saving Private Ryan as a patriotic film. It is an excellent film, but in a scene when the men are talking about the war they shhow no commitment to fighting it, no understanding nor commitment to ending Hitler’s little puipe drems of National Socialism, of which you are an apparent devotee.

    Band of Brothers is an outstanding series but why would one consider it patriotic or result in a favorable view of the American fighting man, laddie? How did Black Hawk down show American in a favorable light?

    Poor moron remains unable to use logic, or even respond intelligently to any of the points raised. One realizes how dull you are being spoon fed on a diet of what an honor student you were (although undoubtedly everyone in your thrid grade class achieved this honor although you spend nine years there).

    Snorting draino has done wonders for your brain cells and it shows. The morally rudderless of the nation that cannot envision themselves being part of something greater than themselves (indeed they view themselves as the ultimate-others exit to serve their needs) cannot conceive of sacrifice. They are the colloborators, the men who feed the ovens, or guard the camps. Their arrogance is only exceeded by their ignorance.

    Here’s your Alpha Jackass Award.

    You might try watching any of John Ford’s movies to see why Hollywood has become a bad joke, a cesspool that presents the US as a nation that could produce and nuture the likes of you.

    Fortunately, for every Morlock like you there are a thousand young men whose shoes you aren’t fit to lick. As long as these men exist America will remain strong. As long as we have infants like you, well NAMBLA is always recruiting.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  51. Haha, Thomas,

    I picture you in a rocking chair on a porch somewhere, yelling at kids to get off your lawn.

    alphie (99bc18)

  52. Staunch Brayer,

    I picture you as a silhouetted figure on top of a grassy hill at night, full moon softly lighting the landscape, while the sound of desperate braying makes a ringing echo across the countryside.

    Paul (09c70a)

  53. Gosh, Paul,

    That’s almost poetic.

    alphie (99bc18)

  54. Call it poetic insult.

    Paul (09c70a)

  55. Driver,
    IMO, military conscription makes you face the choice or even brings out a latent ‘sheepdog’ tendency that may have been hammered down in our liberal-feel-good school system.
    The physical and emotional fitness that one acquires in military training does nothing but good for the scommunity to re-enter later on. And im my personal view, military service is the least a citzen can do for such a great nation.

    Paul from Fl (ae01cb)

  56. Your trying to engage in a conversation with Alphie? That guy is to I.Q. like the coors lite train is to temperature–he enters the fray and all the switches re-set to stupid. Alphie, why don’t you just make yourself and all the rest of us happy and just move to China, already, sub-moronic idiot??

    TheManTheMyth (9a7d6a)

  57. Alphie:
    We all have a picture of you snuug in your padded cell braying to the world how smart you are while the nurses fo4rce your meds on you.

    Alphie inviting ridicule every day all the time.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  58. That guy is to I.Q. like the coors lite train is to temperature–he enters the fray and all the switches re-set to stupid.


    I’m gonna steal that line, TheManTheMyth.

    Paul (09c70a)

  59. Paul from FL:
    There’s really nothing you said (#55) that I could disagree with. The thing is though, there are way more military-aged people than there are positions in our current military. How to know who to conscript? And can you conscript selectively in our society? I don’t think so, at least not unless you are in a real emergency situation.

    Our current military seems adamant that they want volunteers–people who really want to be there enough to pass their own various demanding tests.

    I do agree that many people have found their inner Sheepdog after a stint in the military….however, we haven’t had an active draft in what, thirty-five years? A lot of people have gotten in touch with their inner sheepdog without a government requirement. Said with all respect for your position.

    driver (faae10)

  60. Driver,
    Fair enough. Just one point. Not all military aged people are physically eligible to serve. But still, your point is taken, that is a lot of people without a massive mobilization requirement.

    paul from fl (ae01cb)

  61. Driver:

    The me what type of physical ability it takes to operate sonar, a radar set, operate in a commo center. Physical fitness is fine for front line troops but only ten per cent of our troops are at the spear point. I doubt if 20% of the population couldn’t serve in some capacity.

    The point is that people who don’t want to serve are screw ups and worse. Why inflict them on the troops.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  62. One of the things that I admire most about a state such as Israel is the compulsory service. Everyone is doing something, but it’s because they are in a constant “WW2″ stage. We’re not there, and we’re so large that we don’t need all those people in the military, anyway. Of course, that could change, overnight.

    I’m from a very old Quaker family, although not from the pacifist branch. That’s why there are two Quaker Meetings in Philadelphia. The “Free” Quaker Meeting near Independence Hall where the likes of Betsy Ross were exiled….and the other one, which is now a country club for “progressive hippies”…as I like to call them. As a child, I said to them: “Would you have picked up a gun to defend your families against the Nazis?”

    They had an equivocal response, and I forswore the faith forever after. If you won’t defend, to the death what you believe in, well…..the bad guys kill your family, and you become a footnote of history. I actually have a great deal of respect for the old Quakers that I know, some of whom actually served in the military in WWII…it’s those damned hippie wannabes that piss me off.

    driver (faae10)

  63. Driver:

    I have no respect for those who claim the rights and priviledges but refuse to sacrifice for them but are willing to see others die for their rights. As Orwell said the pacifists are the allies of evil for they refuse to aid the good thereby aiding the evil. (words to that effect).

    We see it too often in academia in the US. I admire the Swiss who have guaranteed peace for their nation by being prepared for war for centuries.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  64. […] great deal of commentary about this piece, which bothered me, because I thought it was important.  DRJ, guest-hosting at Patterico, and Neo-neocon both wrote eloquently about the Kaplan piece, […]

    More on the sheepdogs in our society…. at Amused Cynic (691ade)

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