“The Tragedy of the US Army” on Veterans Day


On November 11, known as Remembrance Day in British Commonwealth countries, the public honors those who have died in their country’s military service.

The same date is observed as Armistice Day in France and Belgium, in respect of the armistice ending the “Great War”, the First World War, 101 years ago today.

In the United States, November 11 is Veterans Day, to honor all who have worn the national uniform. (Memorial Day, in May, is the American equivalent of British Remembrance Day, to honor those who have died in service.)

On this day, most public presentations in the United States include the line “Thank you for your service”. In a long blanket for Atlantic nearly five years ago, I argued that the real way the American public today might honor the small fraction of its members in military service would be different.

(For a perspective on the “small fraction”: at the time of writing this article, a total of about 2.5 million Americans, or about three-quarters of 1% of the population, had served in Iraq or in Afghanistan at any time in post.-9/11 years, many of them more than once.Today’s total active duty U.S. forces, in all branches, are less than 1.5 million, or far less than half of the 1% of the population. This is a different concept of the “1%” than references to the economic elite.)

The article was titled “The Tragedy of the American Army” and the opening page summarized its argument as follows:

The American public and its political leaders will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which reckless spending and strategic madness combine to lure America into endless wars it cannot win.

After this article was published, I received thousands of responses from service members or their families, including a number that you will see quoted in posts in this thread. The vast majority were ‘positive’ when discussing the military’s keen awareness of its status in a ‘chickenhawk’ era – a time when the country was constantly in battle, but only a handful of its people were directly exposed to the costs. .

Some circumstances have changed since that time; most did not. The phenomenon of “honoring the troops” but then moving on to other matters has actually grown stronger over the years.

The article is here. I hope you will find a chance to read it; If there are any other replies, I’ll revive this thread.


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