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I don’t really give a shit about General McChrystal’s rude words about the president, nor his subsequent sacking. But I am intrigued by this article by Frank Schaeffer that attempts to explain the divide between soldiers and civilians in the United States.
Although it’s not his focus, Schaeffer more or less argues that both the American military and American civilians both believe themselves to be morally superior to each other. Although he doesn’t explain it sufficiently, he seems to argue that soldiers (and we might add soldiers’ families to this as well) see the civilian class as making demands of the soldiers, while not risking their own lives or making any sacrifices themselves. This makes them distrustful and resentful of civilians, who seem naive or hypocritical. On the other hand, civilians can easily claim their own moral high ground because they are not involved in controversial military actions, nor are they out there shooting guns at other human beings.
You’ve also got your class differences, in that many members of our “volunteer military” join up because they don’t see themselves having any other job prospects whatsoever, meaning that American soldiers generally come from poorer backgrounds. Then you’ve got the cultural and educational differences that come from these economic differences. In addition, as Schaeffer discusses at length, you’ve got political differences owing to history and political maneuvering in the past several decades. Part of these maneuvers have been efforts by the religious far-right to recruit and court the military, so you also get some religious differences between the military and civilians as well.
No conclusions on my part here, just trying to figure out this crazy, fucked up world we live in.
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