January 11, 1990
I don't know whether the world is run by smart men who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.
Laurence J. Peter
Of all the people I know who DON'T want war, the professional soldier is close to the top of the list. Near the bottom of the list, I would put the old men and women who are forever prattling about peace. They will never have to fight.
If a war happens, the first people on the line would be the professional soldier --and you can get killed in a war! Even a born hero would prefer to get his medal while he's still alive.
Professional soldiers now have the best of all possible worlds. They can prance around in their uniforms, give each other medals, play war games in camouflage suits and greasepaint, and act as if they are doing something important. And they are! They are preserving the balance of power so that the military people in the USSR can do the same thing. They are truly a force for peace.
A peacetime army is much like any other government bureau, only nowhere near as efficient. It is the bureaucracy of bureaucracies; inefficient, stagnant and totally incapable of winning anything; much less a war. If a REAL war ever happened, the rest of the country would find out how ineffectual it is. Consequently, neither the American nor the Russian military want one to happen. They would be found out.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor demonstrated conclusively that the peacetime military is a force that is not only incapable of defending the country, but incapable of defending itself. After Pearl Harbor, the military professionals were mostly replaced by amateurs, which made the winning of World War II possible. With a few notable professional exceptions, who could never have "made it" in the peacetime military, the war was won by amateur soldiers and the civilians who kept them supplied.
Two wartime presidents, Lincoln and Truman, didn't think much of the professional military man, and who am I to argue with these illustrious and knowledgeable gentlemen.
Nowhere is the Peter Principle, that everyone rises to his level of incompetence, more in evidence than in the peacetime military. If the military ever succeeds in getting us involved in a war, it will not be because they wanted to, but because its leaders were too stupid or inept to avoid it.
In short, pay no attention to the theory that the military will get us into a war. They don't want one more than we don't want one. You can sleep well, because the only thing that we have to fear is a serious mistake. On second thought, maybe we should be just a wee bit apprehensive.
I fully expect someone to write in and say that I have insulted our boys in blue, green, olive drab or camouflage. I am almost sure that it will be someone who has never seen wartime service; where they use real bullets and the enemy shoots back. No one who has been in a war would ever give the military a medal for efficiency or competence. The conventional wisdom after WW II was that we won because the enemy was more screwed up than we were --which was hard to believe. We also had more planes, ammunition and the atomic bomb --all made by civilians.
The public was treated to a spectacular display of military stupidity during the Panama incident: the use of loud rock music outside of the Vatican embassy, where Manuel Noriega was hiding. Our boys were, of course, immune to the music, as was American-trained Noriega. The poor priests were probably going bananas. Having had teen-age kids, my sympathy is with the priests. Amnesty International should have come to their defense, unless they considered the loud music as suitable retaliation for the Spanish Inquisition.
I can envision a future American-Soviet war fought between the Moscow Philharmonic and The Who. Or is it The What?
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