War: Abstraction for Most Americans

A recent “Inside the Headquarters” post read, “It seems the secret’s out: The United States is not at war. …” Apparently, others agree: Defense Secretary and Weary Super Hero Robert M. Gates spoke recently of the growing disconnect between the military and civilian population.

Gates was spot on. He called the war an “abstraction” for most Americans, while addressing his Duke University audience, and I would say that includes parents of those over there and veterans. Though the populace and government feign support when they extend a meaningless, “Thank you for your service,” this type of service that has little relevance to life in the United States. The relationship between lives of Americans in the U.S. and those in combat zones is the age-old match-up of military vs. civilian.

Today, getting blown up by IEDs only translates to movies and TV, not a ride on I-95. Working with a destitute population like the Afghans doesn’t translate to volunteering at a low-income school or shelter for abused women, or fostering cats. Maybe it corresponds to the challenges of U.S. immigration policy. No, no, not that either.

Gates expressed his concern for this disconnect. This significant polarization of military from the rest of society is not unique to this period in our history. World War I was similar, except the war ditties were catchy and the artwork captured the early Art Deco style. But military and civilian moved past the challenge in time.

Gates encouraged graduates from top tier schools to choose military service. Nice try, Bob. It’s not up to Duke, Harvard and Princeton. The longer the U.S. is abroad doing what is irrelevant to American people’s lives, the greater the divide. Tier one graduates cannot serve in the numbers necessary to alter the set path of this Titanic. This schism will most likely correct itself, despite lost limbs and suicide rates worthy of the Wicked Witch of the West. For now, the situation is as Gates stated and the two segments of America will politely reach past one another.

Military civilian disconnect – why should Americans care?

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