The US Military… They Are Us

By Paul Evancoe

Born from tyranny, this nation began a virtuous path as one with high ideals. It was a nation that guaranteed liberty to its citizens, not freedom. It was a nation which drew its strength from the many qualities of those citizens who immigrated there from around the world to make a better life. And, the result was that science, technology and the arts were advanced in quantum leaps. Newly arrived citizens raced to learn the common language used by society, melting into the work force to create a great focus of singular national thrust.

At its height, this nation had the finest and most well trained military in the world. Several great wars were fought and won. But even as a conqueror, this great nation helped rebuild its enemies’ infrastructure in its own image while providing them protection from others until they were strong enough to again protect themselves. This nation prospered for many years and gained empire status as the last remaining superpower with the peaceful defeat of its long time rival, but the golden age did not last.

This nation began to suffer a gradual decline of its morality and national will, beginning with the loss of an unpopular protracted conflict in a land far away that was clearly the result of political meddling in battlefield matters. Political scandals continued to rock the very seat of its once proud Capitol. Justice suffered too.

Towards the end, this nation’s legal system had become so corrupted that perpetrators were often touted as the victims while the real victims were discounted and disgraced. Government itself was also corrupted by ethical erosion and political division. Special interest groups and ethnic polarization began to dominate political direction and national goals, discounting and misrepresenting its citizens’ majority. Taxes became so exorbitantly high that for many, forty to fifty percent of their income was taken by the government. Many of this nation’s formerly great cities defaulted and went bankrupt. Prostitution, drug use and lawlessness were rapidly over taking this once proud nation, eroding its core values.

This nation’s once invincible professional military suffered many disheartening losses during piecemeal campaigns involving policing actions, nation building and peacekeeping missions, which sacrificed unit cohesion, training and sense of purpose. The transcontinental supply chains required to maintain control of conquered territory were dramatically scaled back further straining the nation’s economic solvency. Violent escalation in non-state actors and insurgent networks critically eroded the national culture. The citizens no longer trusted their government. Civil unrest mounted as political corruption grew, finally bringing this nation to its knees. This once grand republic was permanently divided between east and west.

And, in the Fifth Century, 476A.D. Rome fell.

How long do we have?

In 1787, around the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, wrote about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier. At the time his perspective was uniquely visionary. “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government,” he observed. “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

Tyler went on to explain, “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years” before showing decline. “Those nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. Bondage to spiritual faith;
2. Spiritual faith to great courage;
3. Courage to liberty;
4. Liberty to abundance;
5. Abundance to complacency;
6. Complacency to apathy;
7. Apathy to dependence;
8. Dependence back into bondage”

Today’s global environment and the international system are evolving at hypervelocity. Global governance of information technology, communications, transportation and finance is a significant threat to capitalism, but an even greater threat to democracy. Think about it, from a national security perspective, America has national cohesiveness, technical superiority, energy sufficiency, reasonably good food surpluses, invulnerability to most natural cataclysms, and more importantly, military superiority. All of these have doctrinal implications with regard to our national security, but how do they factor?

Factoring National Security Doctrine
In order to better understand how we arrived at the doctrinal point we are at today, it is helpful to understand some views on our National Security rethinking – post-Vietnam to 9/11. The following is borrowed from a January 2, 2007 article titled “Rewriting the Rules of War” written by visionary, Colonel Tom Snodgrass, USAF (ret).

Col. Snodgrass laid out his analysis as follows: “In the years following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Colin Powell both recognized some of the shortcomings in the intellectual conception of U.S. national security doctrine that led to the Vietnam debacle, and they both attempted to correct these shortcomings by promulgating the “Weinberger Doctrine” in 1984 and the “Powell Doctrine” in 1991. Secretary Weinberger’s national security construct was in response to another defense debacle, the bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, while General Powell’s preconditions for the commitment of American military forces came along during the build-up to Desert Storm. While both doctrines call for clarity of purpose in the U.S. use of force, they both nevertheless suffer from the debilitating constraint of continued limited war thinking and the inherent problems facing the modern democracy.”

Col. Snodgrass went on to explain the differences between the two. He listed six predominate tenets of the Weinberger doctrine as:
“1. The United States should not commit forces to combat unless the vital national interests of the United States or its allies are involved.
2. U.S. troops should only be committed wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning. Otherwise, troops should not be committed.
3. U.S. combat troops should be committed only with clearly defined political and military objectives and with the capacity to accomplish those objectives.
4. The relationship between the objectives and the size and composition of the forces committed should be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.
5. U.S. troops should not be committed to battle without a “reasonable assurance” of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress.
6. The commitment of U.S. troops should be considered only as a last resort.”

Comparatively, Col. Snodgrass listed the “Questions posed by the Powell Doctrine, which should be answered affirmatively before military action:

1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7. Is the action supported by the American people?
8. Do we have genuine broad international support?”

According to Col. Snodgrass, “Both doctrines are admirable in their attempts to clarify when and how U.S. forces should be used, but they are clearly meant for limited war contexts.” Col. Snodgrass believes, “The limited war doctrine reigns today; it has never been re-written. As a consequence, after 9/11 when the U.S. entered into the Global War on Terrorism our national strategic thinking was not geared for global war. Hence we have both opponents and proponents of the Global War on Terror measuring the “Battle for Iraq” and Afghanistan solely in terms of limited war. We continue to be trapped in the same mental box that pre-ordained our Vietnam defeat. It is not widely understood that Iraq is merely a campaign in the Global War on Terror, not a limited “Iraq War.””

Today’s War Strategy
Today’s liberal bent towards political correctness avoids recognizing that we are battling the faithful Muslims of the world whose goal is Shari’a-based worldwide dominance. Quite simply, they want to kill us because we don’t believe what they believe. As Col. Snodgrass says, “War today is one part war strategy and five parts domestic public relations [because] an open society democracy demands daily watering and tender-loving care.” As a result, today’s risk adverse polity openly discourages courageous political and military leadership while rewarding quite the opposite. And atrophy of political and military leadership is the result. When risk-takers are discouraged, even with a brilliant track record of success, they will, at some point, either quit or rebel. Taking risks requires courage.

What is courage?
Many confuse being bold with being courageous. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines courage as a “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” To win you must be courageous, not bold. Bold men lose battles. Bold men die young. Bold men seek recognition. Boldness is usually non-directional, while courage has a virtuous vector. Boldness is a selfish, self-centered mindset, while courage is unselfish action that is offered from the depth of a person’s soul. You may wonder – must one need to have a degree of boldness to achieve a courageous act? Perhaps…but boldness is more often a defense while courage is always an offense. Allow your opponent to be bold and see your opponent’s boldness for what it is – weakness.

From the crystal ball.
In view of our shrinking military and the many fiscal constraints levied upon it, in the next 10 to 20 years, maybe even sooner, veterans will be crucial in a global-military, political and economic context. As the planet reaches its violence-carrying capacity in the Global War on Terror there will be a significant potential for global-scale disorder. Thus, we may expect the military to be involved in maintaining world order – at least to the extent it is capable of doing so. Veterans may be an important asset in this context, especially in the area of education, training, logistics and support to help relieve manning and deployment stress on active duty and active reserve forces. Veterans will in essence become a force multiplier for the military. Have you ever talked to a single veteran who left the service honorably who was still not committed in one way or another and who would refuse to answer the call if asked?

The professional military we enjoy today is the most highly educated, well trained and best equipped of any military in recorded history. They are us, our brothers, our sisters, our sons and our daughters. They are our finest and smartest, our best and most courageous. But most of all, they are us. They carry with them our most sacred expectations, our hopes, even our dreams and insure our future. They are us.

Paul Evancoe is a freelance writer and author of three action novels – Own the Night, Violent Peace and Poison Promise. All are available online from




3 Responses to “The US Military… They Are Us”

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military dot image larryf    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Powerful, daring & factual for those who embraces truth. Love our military, veterans and all those who seek, respect and holds dear the American dream. Thank you Paul.

military dot image Phil    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Paul, that was a thoughtful, sobering and eloquently written essay. The opening analogy to ancient Rome was a particularly great way to start it. Enjoyed our visit yesterday . . . loved the monkey story but felt sorry for Rinny!

military dot image Jack Whitney    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Rome lasted a 1000 years or so. This place will be lucky to make it to 250. Great article Paul. Two things are patently clear in our strategic military planning: We never learn from our past campaigns-we still are making the same mistakes that we made in vietnam- we didn’t fight to win! And Secondly, we get into these “wars” or situations where we have no “end game.”
But, you bring out an excellent point about us old geezeres who have served, if we get the call, we’ll show up-limps, gimps and all-ready to fight and to win!

Too bad that we lack Flag Officers who don’t know how to win! We have no Pattons, Bradley’s, Pullers, Halseys amd Nimitzes.

Great Article and Spot On Paul!

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