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Mercenary Army Or Pompous Academia?

Posted By Blackfive • [July 25, 2005]

This NY Times op-ed is really another indicator of academia's distance from main-stream American society.  Stanford History professor David M. Kennedy writes about our mercenary army.  He is as clueless as he is pompous.

The Best Army We Can Buy
By DAVID M. KENNEDY
Published: July 25, 2005

THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.
<...>
Some will find it offensive to call today's armed forces a "mercenary army," but our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago - drawn from all ranks of society without respect to background or privilege or education, and mobilized on such a scale that civilian society's deep and durable consent to the resort to arms was absolutely necessary.

Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy....

Okay, I'm going to violate a few language rules on this blog...so I'll put those in the Extended Section.

David M. Kennedy is probably the biggest horse's ass I've ever read in the New York Times (and that's saying something). The. Biggest. Horse's. Ass.

Where does he get his data?

    THE United States now has a mercenary army

Based on the criteria that they are paid a pitiance and have some benefits?  Here is the Heritage Dictionary's entry on "mercenary".

  1. Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.
  2. Hired for service in a foreign army.

You'd think a Stanford prof would know how to open a dictionary.  Well, then, based on Kennedy's criteria, show me an army that is not a mercenary one.

    our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago

In order to add insult to injury he adds this.  Why does the 3rd Infantry Division (BTW, the MOST decorated division in WWII) have a re-enlistment rate 250% over projections?  Those re-enlistments came from soldiers IN Iraq, too.

Is Kennedy questioning the patriotism of those serving now or those who served over sixty years ago?  I know more than one military officer or sergeant who could stand to make a lot more as a civilian...I know quite a few former officers and sergeants that are searching for ways to go back to the military.

Kennedy definitely believes that the military is disjoined from society.  Maybe those in Palo Alto don't get it, but I challenge Kennedy to go to the Midwest, the South or anywhere else other than the coasts and see what people say about the military.  Or what the military men and women have to say about them.

And why is it that the military, if so disconnected, are so admired and respected?  Why respected more so than smug academic hacks like Kennedy?  Maybe he's just jealous...

    It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others

I think this made me more angry than any other statement.  He thinks it's easy for anyone to deal out death.  How would he know? 

Ask the professor to tell that to the Soldiers and Marines that took Fallujah or made the Thunder Run to take Baghdad.  He insults every combat Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine.

This op-ed at least makes one point more glaringly obvious to me (although I bet most of you knew this already)...

David M. Kennedy shows how disconnected academia is from main-stream society.

Update:  Just received an eloquent and touching email from a spouse that was a little upset with the professor (and rightly so).  Her husband put off his career as a Registered Nurse to be a combat medic with the Cavalry in Iraq.

Received another email from a Chief Warrant Officer in Iraq.  He's a psychologist in civilian clothes but an intel chief in uniform.

Update 2:  Ron sends Professor Kennedy's email addres.


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