Politicizing the Military is Dangerous

Owen West, in a special Wall Street Jounral op-ed, discusses the great national divide about the military in this nation. It is not a great secret that the gulf between the general population of America and the U.S. military has been widening for several decades.

Whether you ascribe the cause to the implementation of the all-volunteer force, the strengthening economy where military service loses its appeal as a means to get ahead, or the general blinders that many citizens wear, believing warfare to be a thing of the past, we as a nation have a problem and one that we need to address if we are to continue to field the greatest fighting force that has ever existed.

West's piece has a great deal worth reading and I hope you do, but a couple of statistics he pointed out should jump out at everyone:

In July's Gallup Poll on America's most trusted institutions, the military ranked highest with a 69% confidence rating. Congress ranked last (below HMOs), with a 14% confidence rating.

So it was surprising to see that, according to an August CNN poll, 68% of Americans said Gen. David Petraeus's congressional testimony on Iraq this week would not sway their personal view one way or the other. Worse, 53% of Americans do not trust him to report what's really going on in Iraq, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll published Monday....

Monday's MoveOn.org advertisement, which depicted Gen. Petraeus as a traitor, has been dismissed by Sen. Reid as an inconsequential distraction. But according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan research group, the ad reflects the growing distrust of a Democratic Party that may be taking cues from its leadership. Last month 76% of Republicans expressed confidence in the military to give an "accurate picture of the war," while only 36% of Democrats did.

This explains the collective skepticism surrounding Gen. Petraeus's comments but does not excuse it. For while the country can thrive as a politically divided nation, its ability to defend itself diminishes alongside faith in the fidelity of the military. The unbalanced portrayal of the conduct of our soldiers has done damage enough. To impugn our warriors' motives as political is thoroughly corrosive and hurts all Americans. (emphasis added)

I highlight the two numbers because their relationship cannot simply be coincidental.

While it cannot be said that 31 percent of Americans don't have any confidence at all in the military, that same 31 percent must feel there is some reason why they have less confidence in the military than say some other entity. At the same time, over 1 in 3 American believe that our commanding general in Iraq will not be truthful in his report to Congress.

The trouble I suppose I am having with this is that when a man or a woman joins the military, they must swear an oath to "Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foriegn and domestic" and to follow the orders of the Commander in Chief and all others lawfully placed above them. In short, the oath does not permit a person to choose which class of Americans to defend, whether they be white or black, natural born citizens or naturalized citizens or immigrants, or more importantly Democrats or Republicans.

But more and more, as West points out, members of both parties are using the military to score political points and that process must stop. The military, more than any other institution in America, must be above petty partisan politics. The military exists to protect our rights to act like partisan hacks and jerks (and I include my own party in that group). The military must be entrusted with and trusted to provide a non-partisan defense of the United States national security interests and despite what personal ideologies a member of the military may have they shouldn't and cannot interfere with his or her obligation to do their duty. The fact that partisan hacks may ascribe political overtones to their reports and actions does not make it true and if the public believes such intimations, then shame on us.

West counsels us on two matters:

Stepping back from the froth, this week will strengthen the country if our political leaders recognize two things. First they must resist the urge to engage in what traders call "backtrading" and prevent hindsight bias from clouding future decisions. Whether or not the decision to invade Iraq was correct, whether or not our presence created al Qaeda in Iraq or attracted them or emboldened other enemies, we now face the complex task of securing America while living up to some responsibility in Iraq.

Second, they must recognize that a bipartisan course of action must be chosen in the context of a much larger war on terror. If the politicians continue pulling the country apart, this game of chicken will end badly and imperil both Iraq and the U.S. If America were hit tomorrow there would be more finger-pointing than ranks closing. That must change.
The latter piece of advice is particularly appropos in light of yesterday's anniversary. We cannot let our partisan bickering of the past influence our response in the future. We cannot let our current political bickering influence our treatment of the military.

The Framers, in their wisdom, placed the control of the military in civilian hands. The nature of our political system means that parties fight and campaign to hold that ultimate top position; the Presidency, for better or worse, is a political office with political agendas. With a political office held by one party ultimate comes a, hopefully loyal, opposition. Such is our Constitutional system.

We ask of young military men and women, all of whom volunteer, to possibly make the greatest sacrifice possible in the defense of their nation. We should not and cannot impugne their honor simply because we don't like their civilian bosses.

Posted by Matt Johnston at September 13, 2007 2:29 PM
Comments
Comment #232735

I haven’t seen anyone impugn the honor of the military. You do or should know that when someone gets to Petreus’ rank, it does become quite political. And as you pointed out, it is run by the partison civilians, the president and secretary of defense.

If you don’t believe it is political, look at the generals who lost thier jobs because they felt more troops were needed. They disagreed with Bush and Rumsfeld, and look where it got them. Never mind the fact that they have been proved right.

Posted by: womanmarine at September 13, 2007 2:49 PM
Comment #232739

Matt, I must rebutt Owens surprise and your comment below, both quoted below:

Owens:

So it was surprising to see that, according to an August CNN poll, 68% of Americans said Gen. David Petraeus’s congressional testimony on Iraq this week would not sway their personal view one way or the other. Worse, 53% of Americans do not trust him to report what’s really going on in Iraq, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll published Monday….

Matt:

The fact that partisan hacks may ascribe political overtones to their reports and actions does not make it true and if the public believes such intimations, then shame on us.

Rebuttal: Why is Owens surprised? Look, Petraeus’ report followed the GAO’s and NIE’s reports which are more independent of the White House view and spin, and their assessment of progress in Iraq and eventual resolution to the point of being able to remove our troops from harm’s way and end the deficits caused by our occupation, was, by far, less justifying of a ‘stay the course’ policy, which has, and continues to be, Bush’s policy regardless of cost to America or Americans.

In addition, the public is not dumb. They know very well Petraeus was selected by Bush at least partially on Bush’s confidence that Petraeus would view our position in Iraq in similar fashion to the way Bush does, or Petraeus would not have been his selection.

Lastly, Petraeus is a military man who has been given a mission by the CIC, achieve victory as defined by the President. Being a good General, Petraeus report had no choice but to acknowledge that victory has not been achieved and that more time and application of resources shall be needed to fulfill his objective given to him by Bush.

So, why should the public expect to hear anything other than what Petraeus had to report, ‘stay the course’. The public wants our role in Iraq to come to a conclusion. It was obvious Petraeus was not going to be able to come back and report, my mission will be completed on such and such a date, given the many unknowns regarding the Iraqi government’s future will and capacity to govern itself.

Matt, the fact that political analysts and critics ascribe political overtones to Petraeus’ report, doesn’t mean they are true, that is correct. But, it also doesn’t mean they ARE NOT true.

Look, Petraeus is Bush’s hand picked general charged to fulfill Bush’s mission in Iraq, and since the President has already said publicly he will not pull out of Iraq as long as he is President, and since Bush’s definition of victory in Iraq is not in the cards for the foreseeable future if at all, how can you argue that Petraeus’ views would NOT reflect those of President Bush, who is political by any measure? Of course, Petraeus’ views have political overtones, they reflect the mission and definition of victory assigned by this Republican president. That by definition ascribes political overtones to Petraeus’ report and the Ambassador’s as well.

I find no fault nor lack of integrity in Petraeus or his report (except for his definitions of what constitutes categories of casualties). He is a general with a mission assigned by the CIC. Anything he says is going to be defined by that mission and whether or not it has been accomplished yet or not.

It is not for Petraeus to decide if the mission is accomplishable. As a general, his obligated by his oath of office is to accept the mission as accomplishable as it comes from the civilian government which supervises and controls the military in accordance with the Constitution.

If there is fault with the mission or its definition, that lies with the President and Congress, not with Petraeus. But, as the President and Congress are political, Petraeus mission, given him by these political branches of government, and his reports will of course have political overtones.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 13, 2007 4:02 PM
Comment #232741


Matt: How does General Patraeus aspirations to run for president affect his judgement about Iraq? Do you think he want’s to be another one of Bush’s fired generals? How many of those fired generals do you imagine will be running for president in 2012?

There is no mystery in the polls. The people have much respect for the military. They have little or no respect for the Administration. General Patraeus agreed to be a part of the Administration or he would not have gotten the job.

If Patraeus had testified before Congress and said that with the exception of a few bright spots, the Surge has been a failure, he would have lost his job. If the Administration had known in advance that the General would testify in such a manner, he would have been fired beforehand.

From the gitgo, the Administration has politicized the military. Early on, they tried to give the impression the there were no dissenting voices in the military and that from the highest ranking general to the lowest recruit, the entire military was in lockstep with the Administration on Iraq. At one time, they even had the military sensoring any e-mails from dissenting troops. The Administration used the high moral of our troops as a political tool.

When you politize the military to arouse public sentiment for your political cause, you shouldn’t be suprised if it comes around and bites you on the ass. Nearly every issue like this comes down to the case of Bush vs The American People or King George and the torries vs the American People.

Posted by: jlw at September 13, 2007 4:55 PM
Comment #232747

Matt:

Thank you for bringing this topic up. I see a great deal of hyper partisanship that is “poor cricket” in peaceful times but down right dangerous in war time. In a time of war, tactics in Congress need to compensate.

Congress tends to hide behind “our constitutional requirement of oversight.” They falsely use this to condone basically any tactic what so ever.

For instance both Pelosi and Reid used the term “Bush Patraeus report”. Both used their words to deminish Patraeus’s credibility BEFORE he spoke. It is the enemies job to deminish our service people not Congress’s. Why would Pelosi and Reid attempt to diminish the stature of someone wearing the uniform of the United States during war time?

That attempt to dishonor one of our generals has nothing at all to do with congressional oversight. Attacking the words of a general is their job when they disagree with them. It is certainly Congress’s job to examine the idea’s of anyone before them. That IS Congressional oversite.

Congress uses tactics that would not be allowed here!! Much less in a war time congress.

It is absolutely no wonder Congress is held in such low regard by so many americans.

Are there any statesman left?

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 13, 2007 5:32 PM
Comment #232757

Congress, which can be said to include both Democrats and Republicans, is unpopular because they’ve unsuccessful in stopping the war, and some have caved in rather pathetically to a very unpopular president.

The military remains popular and respected because nobody has ever blamed the failure of the war on the military itself. They’re not the ones screwing up the war, in most people’s eyes, and the Democrats, contrary to the accusations of the Republicans, have never attacked them. This is not like with Vietnam, where some anti-war protestors identified the military on the other side of the divide.

The General’s testimony suffers because people know what he says to be the official line of the Bush Administration, and they know that the Bush Administration is incapable of admitting the problems and pitfalls of the war, and that every chance he gets, he tries to make sure that an unrealistically positive image of it is presented.

It is not the army itself that lacks credibility. Democrats, including myself, constantly reference military doctrines and personnel in their arguments. The ones who lack America confidence are the civilian leaders who brought this war upon America.

The Republicans would like to believe that the see-saw is heading down on our side, and their fortunes will be rising. However, this is an unrealistic picture of things. For example, polling results about who is well regarded in congress hold the Democrats higher. Even now, with less than twenty percent popularity in some polls, the American people nonetheless are happier that Democrats are in charge.

So what gives? When Congress start’s getting results, you will see their stock rise. It is not that most Americans are having second thoughts about their opinions of the Republicans. They still dislike them, and don’t want them back. No, these are job ratings: the Democratic Party Controlled Congress has not yet acheived the Promised results, and Americans are holding them to that promise by withholding it’s satisfactory ratings. The Republicans are succeeding in making us look bad, but not by making themselves look good.

As for politicization of the military?

The Republicans have politicized this from day one, and it’s what crippled this war, and what’s more, what poisoned Americans against it. By not admitting to the problems and getting them taken care of, by not allowing themselves to acknowledge the will of the people when they lost patience, and taking the war in directions Americans felt ill represented them, and ill-served our interests in their view, Republicans have destroyed much of the trust that voters once had that they were the go-to party on national defense.

Democrats merely had to point out the obvious and make sure people knew about it. The Republicans sowed the seeds of their own discrediting with the American people. Congress’s low ratings only come because we haven’t yet shown that we’re better than our predecessors.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 13, 2007 6:12 PM
Comment #232761

Craig,

++For instance both Pelosi and Reid used the term “Bush Patraeus report”. Both used their words to deminish Patraeus’s credibility BEFORE he spoke. It is the enemies job to deminish our service people not Congress’s. Why would Pelosi and Reid attempt to diminish the stature of someone wearing the uniform of the United States during war time?++

They probably used that term for the simple reason that the Bush administration had said they were going to take Patreus’ comments/observations/thoughts and then write the report. It pretty well HAS to be called the Bush-Patreus report at that point because it reflects the authorship of more than one person.

Posted by: Doxy at September 13, 2007 6:32 PM
Comment #232762

Matt, you write your article as though us civilians do not trust all military personnel. This simply is not true. I do not have any faith in the executive branch of this country. Nor do I put much faith in the republican party in general. This does not mean that I hold all who work for our government or are republican in low esteem. It is the decision makers we do not trust. The people who hand out the orders and decide strategies. These are the folks who dictate what direction our military takes. And of course the head man is Bush himself. The pawns are only performing a job. They are the ones who are dying. They are doing the dirty work and making huge sacrifices. We are extremely proud of these folks for the sacrifices they make. It is no fault of theirs that they are serving under an imbecile with lousy leadership skills.

Posted by: RickIL at September 13, 2007 6:43 PM
Comment #232775

The fact is that although Democrats and Republicans got together and began the war in Iraq, the Democrats now believe that they will pick up congressional seats and possibly the presidency if the idea that the war is a failure is still widespread by next November.

If the military succeeds, or more importantly, the public believes the military is succeeding or can succeed, it will be a political dagger in the heart of the Democrats.

The military is therefore an obstacle to the Democrats and their ambitions. Thus the military needs to be discredited… as the treatment of Petreus, even BEFORE he gave his treatment, demonstrated.

The opposite could be said about the Republicans: you could make the case that they are clinging to a losing strategy for political purposes and are thus “politicizing” the military that way. I find this argument less convincing, however, because if the Republicans who still support the war were really only motivated by politics and didn’t believe the war was winnable and worth winning, they could have cut their political losses long before now. Perhaps have started a pull-out or a draw-down before the 06 elections.

This is without reference to who is right and who is wrong about the war itself. I’m merely observing that on the political front, the Democrats are pretty obviously rooting for failure.

Posted by: Liam at September 13, 2007 9:58 PM
Comment #232786

Politicizing the military by saying that people who think Patreus’ report isn’t realistic or may have his Commander in Chief’s slant, while then accusing others of politicizing is absurdity at it’s best.

Of course, senior staff are political. War is political. If you wish to yell, Rah! Rah! Then do it. Please don’t hide behind slandering those that engage in exactly what you are doing.

The American public has stopped believing in Bush because he has been dishonest. You can fool some of the people…people can’t be fooled….umm…

We won’t get fooled again, not by this jerk.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 13, 2007 11:35 PM
Comment #232794

Liam, your argument makes no sense. Democrats, because you are right about if this war continues as it is, and Petraeus said 60 American dead per month is the projected average and we know 4 billion/month is being spent, will result in Democratic gains in ‘08 in Congress and the White House, logic dictates it is in Democrat’s political interest to ‘stay the course’. Precisely opposite of what their majority stance has been.

Because we are out of troops to significantly increase their number, and must begin drawing them down by 20 to 30,000 by April in order to maintain our military readiness, Republicans, if motivated by American politics, must demonstrate progress whether there is any substantial progress or not. Which creates a credibility problem for them as poll after poll indicates.

Also, the politics of Iraq and the ‘08 elections is different for presidential candidates and congressional candidates.

Congressional candidates must appeal to the majority of their constituents in their district, whether that district be a majority of their party, a split district, or a majority of the other party. Since, Republicans have many more seats up for grabs than Democrats, this is a tough statistical reality for Republicans to overcome if Iraq is the central issue, and 1/4 to 1/2 of their reelection districts are split party districts.

Republican pres. candidates, must, in order to win popular support, either present a credible plan (hard to imagine) to succeed in Iraq with a date certain, or, present a credible plan for redeployment of our troops substantially out of harm’s way and dramatically reduce our monthly costs in Iraq. Since the only Republican candidate making anything similar to the latter proposal is Ron Paul, it is hard to see how at this time how a Republican candidate can win.

Democrat pres. candidates, on the other hand, need to present a credible plan for withdrawal that does not result in the Middle East dissembling into such chaos as to impede the flow of oil, or, a plan for redeployment and cost reductions while maintaining a regional force protection that insures the flow of oil and regional stability. Given the polls, Democrats have a distinct advantage, in appealing to the all important Independent voters who as a majority will favor one or both of these plans.

With Guiliani the strongest polling candidate going into the primaries, it appears he is the likely candidate for Republicans. However, his position on Iraq in the general election will not win over the all-important Independent voters if they vote on Iraq as the central issue.

Hillary is the polling favorite (with some erosion now) going into the primaries. If she is the general election candidate, her regional force and redeployment plan to insure regional stability will lose her some of the anti-war vote, but, make up for the losses with the Independent voters.

I just don’t see from currently available polling how Republicans can possibly achieve any gains in 2008, all other things remaining equal. All other things however, may not remain equal between the primaries and Nov. 2008. A terrorist attack on our homeland for example, would shift the vote in Republicans favor given Democrat’s Achille’s Heel position on illegal immigration.

It may be that the terrorists will have to give some thought as well to their timing of their next attacks on the U.S. If their goal is, as OBL said, to weaken the U.S. economically and facilitate strained relations between the U.S. and its allies, government and its people, then they may decide it is in their best interests to shift the election to Republicans by attacking our homeland before Nov. 2008. If their goal is facilitate bragging rigths to at least a partial withdrawal from Iraq, then, they may want to wait until after a Democrat wins the White House before attacking us again. This is of course speculation. I don’t claim to have any insight into the minds of the particular terrorist group that may be positioned in the U.S. before the elections. If it is Hezbollah, for example, the calculus could be entirely different.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 14, 2007 7:20 AM
Comment #232798
It is not a great secret that the gulf between the general population of America and the U.S. military has been widening for several decades.

Perhaps because there’s no longer a draft and so few recruits come from families above the median family income line??? 90% of soldiers/families/recruits I’ve heard on TV (unscientific, but still!) have said they were going into the military to get money for college…that says a whole lot!

Posted by: Rachel at September 14, 2007 8:02 AM
Comment #232806

Most of those who know what a raving leftie I am will be surprised by this statement, but I think Matt has written one of the best non-partisan articles I’ve ever seen on this site. Great thread!

That being said, the divide in opinion between Dems and Reps over the military is hardly surprising. The average Republican looks at our servicepeople and sees the fine soldiers of WWII, brave and honorable. The average Democrat looks at them and sees Vietnam, bloodied and disgraced. Sad but true. Liberals cannot forget that the military is very easily used as a political tool, and thus cannot separate the two in their own minds.

I forget where the quote comes from, but somebody famous once said that “war is politics by other means”. Never has this been more true than in this administration. This conflict in Iraq was started for political reasons, but was sold as a national security issue. When this facade became obvious, it’s no surprise that us on the Left became irate and started throwing Vietnam in Dubya’s face. The irony is that, in many cases including my own, part of the motivation behind our ire is that we Libs don’t want to see the blame for the war tossed onto the shoulders of our young people in uniform, as it was in Vietnam. We want the blame laid where it should be, on the Administration that sent them into Hell in the first place.

Notice also that the the lower opinion noted above is not of the military itself, but of the accuracy of it’s reports on the situation in Iraq. We know this administration can spin a story with the best of them, and any report filtered through them is always suspect .

L

Posted by: leatherankh at September 14, 2007 10:51 AM
Comment #232807

womanmarine…

You said:

“I haven’t seen anyone impugn the honor of the military.”

Please look HERE

Posted by: Jim T at September 14, 2007 10:52 AM
Comment #232815

I listened to Gen. Petraeus’ give his report. For the most part, everyone was respectful. From my perspective the most blatant piece of politicking was when the Republican senator brought up the Moveon.org ad. It had nothing to do with the report. He just wanted to say “Democrats attack soldiers” on camera. You didn’t see any Democrats open their remarks with comments on the latest piece of trash talk from Rush Limbaugh. I agree with Reid, the comment was innapropriate, and distracting from the incredibly important issue at hand.

Other than that, all the Democrat smears don’t read that way to me. “Bush Patreaus report”? He is Bush’s general, and people should be reminded he works for the administration. If only this had been done more for all the other reports we have been given. Secondly, why shouldn’t people question why we went into war? Why shouldn’t we ask whether or not this war is actually creating more terrorists and making us less safe? If our original reasons for going to war are wrong, shouldn’t we figure out why we are there now? Aren’t these important questions?

Americans being skeptical of what they’re told from the military is only natural after having been told things over and over again that are incorrect.

Finally, I don’t think Democrats’ future is tied to losing the war. Even if we win at this point, it will be a pyrrhic victory that cost too much and gained too little. Not to mention all the lying, incompetence, and just plain dumbness and meanness this administration has dealt out to the country in general, not just this war.

Posted by: Max at September 14, 2007 12:16 PM
Comment #232816

Btw, Pelosi summed up the whole report very well. The most optimistic outlook on this war is that it will last another ten years, at huge, perhaps unsustainable cost, with little chance of success.

Posted by: Max at September 14, 2007 12:20 PM
Comment #232817

Jim T,

I am shocked, shocked, that Reid says the current military leadership is incompetent. I am shocked, shocked that he can get away with saying the war is lost. No one should be able to have these opinions or express them publicly without being shot.

Do you even hear yourself? That’s not impugning anyone. Those are perfectly legitimate assessments of the situation. If any senator believes them, they have a duty to this country to make their conclusions known.

Posted by: Frank at September 14, 2007 12:24 PM
Comment #232818

No part of the US government is above criticism. Not the President, not the Congress, and not the military leadership.

If a member of Congress think’s that a general is twisting the facts (as Clinton did) it is entirely appropriate to say so. That’s democracy.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 14, 2007 12:41 PM
Comment #232827

Politics and military. Yes politics plays a big part in the military. I spent 21 1/2yrs in and know it is no different then civilian life when it comes to politics in the office.

What I want to see is someone on active duty who is not afraid to buck the system if they see something wrong. Illegal orders are not valid orders no matter whom they come from.

Posted by: KT at September 14, 2007 2:14 PM
Comment #232838

Jim T:

So? That’s not impugning the military. That’s stating fact. You tend to overgeneralize.

Posted by: womanmarine at September 14, 2007 3:02 PM
Comment #232839

We’re also going to lose in Afghanistan:

NATO lacks troops to guarantee Afghan peace: report

Posted by: womanmarine at September 14, 2007 3:03 PM
Comment #232869

Fact? According to whom? Reid (who has never been in the military)?

Since he has never been in the military and obviously knows next to SQUAT about running a military, the only person I can assume is incompetant is Reid. Maybe he should actually look in the mirror before he shoots his completely inexperienced mouth off.

Whaddaya think?

Posted by: Jim T at September 14, 2007 8:08 PM
Comment #232929

Jim T, what has serving in the military have to do with public policy? Dick Cheney didn’t serve and has been very influential, yesterday even, discussing military operations and progress in Iraq. FACT: Most Americans have never served in the military. So, your parenthetic comment means what, exactly?

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 15, 2007 4:09 AM
Comment #232959

David,

What it means is…Reid is NOT an expert on military affairs…so who is HE to say that a general is incompetent or not? What does HE know about coordinating a war? What does HE know about leading men and women in battle? What does Reid base his charge of incompetence upon? Speculation? Wishful thinking? “Gee, I guess”? Political partisanship? Certainly not something as trivial or unimportant as knowledge or experience.

I’m sure that General Pace would never call Reid incompetent, as Pace is not an expert politician. It’s too bad Reid THINKS he’s an expert in military affairs…when he only cares about picking up a couple of seats in the Senate, using anyone he can as a scapegoat to energize and appease the radical left and MoveOn.org.

Posted by: Jim T at September 15, 2007 10:58 AM
Comment #232979

Matt Johnson
Thank you writing a thoughtful piece. Its good to see some new blood on the red side even if you are fundementally wrong.
History full of examples. The last people to trust for the truth in a war are the military. I forget who said it but”Truth is the first casualty of war” Was it Churcill? Remember the bogus “body counts” of Vietnam?The British reported before the Faulkland engagement that Argentine troops were reduced to eating cats because of the British blockade. They were forced to retract that lie after some reporter pointed out that the Faulklands had 2 million sheep. I do not know about you but I would prefer lamb to cat meat.Point is the military are never to be trusted in a democracy. That is why they were placed under civilian control by the founders.
The current role of the US military goes far beyond the protection of freedom.Their function now is protection of “American interest”,a euphamism for empire.People gag at the word “empire” but that is what we have and the military is a large part of it.We have 700 military missions in over 150 countries worldwide. We spend nearly as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. This is by a nation that has no hostile nieghbors and is geographically isolated from land invasion.This is far beyond security. The great debate should be about the direction of our empire and wether or not we should continue down that road.

Posted by: BillS at September 15, 2007 12:36 PM
Comment #232981

Jim T:

What does Bush know about any of that?

Posted by: womanmarine at September 15, 2007 1:14 PM
Comment #233036

1. “We will not have any more crashes in our time.”
- John Maynard Keynes in 1927

2. “I cannot help but raise a dissenting voice to statements that we are living in a fool’s paradise, and that prosperity in this country must necessarily diminish and recede in the near future.”
- E. H. H. Simmons, President, New York Stock Exchange, January 12, 1928

“There will be no interruption of our permanent prosperity.”
- Myron E. Forbes, President, Pierce Arrow Motor Car Co., January 12, 1928


3. “No Congress of the United States ever assembled, on surveying the state of the Union, has met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time. In the domestic field there is tranquility and contentment…and the highest record of years of prosperity. In the foreign field there is peace, the goodwill which comes from mutual understanding.”
- Calvin Coolidge December 4, 1928

4. “There may be a recession in stock prices, but not anything in the nature of a crash.”
- Irving Fisher, leading U.S. economist , New York Times, Sept. 5, 1929

5. “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. I do not feel there will be soon if ever a 50 or 60 point break from present levels, such as (bears) have predicted. I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months.”
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in economics, Oct. 17, 1929

“This crash is not going to have much effect on business.”
- Arthur Reynolds, Chairman of Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago, October 24, 1929

“There will be no repetition of the break of yesterday… I have no fear of another comparable decline.”
- Arthur W. Loasby (President of the Equitable Trust Company), quoted in NYT, Friday, October 25, 1929

“We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and that for people who can afford to pay for them outright, good stocks are cheap at these prices.”
- Goodbody and Company market-letter quoted in The New York Times, Friday, October 25, 1929


6. “This is the time to buy stocks. This is the time to recall the words of the late J. P. Morgan… that any man who is bearish on America will go broke. Within a few days there is likely to be a bear panic rather than a bull panic. Many of the low prices as a result of this hysterical selling are not likely to be reached again in many years.”
- R. W. McNeel, market analyst, as quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929

“Buying of sound, seasoned issues now will not be regretted”
- E. A. Pearce market letter quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929

“Some pretty intelligent people are now buying stocks… Unless we are to have a panic — which no one seriously believes, stocks have hit bottom.”
- R. W. McNeal, financial analyst in October 1929


7. “The decline is in paper values, not in tangible goods and services…America is now in the eighth year of prosperity as commercially defined. The former great periods of prosperity in America averaged eleven years. On this basis we now have three more years to go before the tailspin.”
- Stuart Chase (American economist and author), NY Herald Tribune, November 1, 1929
“Hysteria has now disappeared from Wall Street.”
- The Times of London, November 2, 1929

“The Wall Street crash doesn’t mean that there will be any general or serious business depression… For six years American business has been diverting a substantial part of its attention, its energies and its resources on the speculative game… Now that irrelevant, alien and hazardous adventure is over. Business has come home again, back to its job, providentially unscathed, sound in wind and limb, financially stronger than ever before.”
- Business Week, November 2, 1929

“…despite its severity, we believe that the slump in stock prices will prove an intermediate movement and not the precursor of a business depression such as would entail prolonged further liquidation…”
- Harvard Economic Society (HES), November 2, 1929


8. “… a serious depression seems improbable; [we expect] recovery of business next spring, with further improvement in the fall.”
- HES, November 10, 1929

“The end of the decline of the Stock Market will probably not be long, only a few more days at most.”
- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, November 14, 1929

“In most of the cities and towns of this country, this Wall Street panic will have no effect.”
- Paul Block (President of the Block newspaper chain), editorial, November 15, 1929

“Financial storm definitely passed.”
- Bernard Baruch, cablegram to Winston Churchill, November 15, 1929


9. “I see nothing in the present situation that is either menacing or warrants pessimism… I have every confidence that there will be a revival of activity in the spring, and that during this coming year the country will make steady progress.”
- Andrew W. Mellon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury December 31, 1929
“I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence.”
- Herbert Hoover, December 1929

“[1930 will be] a splendid employment year.”
- U.S. Dept. of Labor, New Year’s Forecast, December 1929


10. “For the immediate future, at least, the outlook (stocks) is bright.”
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in Economics, in early 1930

11. “…there are indications that the severest phase of the recession is over…”
- Harvard Economic Society (HES) Jan 18, 1930

12. “There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about.”
- Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930

13. “The spring of 1930 marks the end of a period of grave concern…American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of prosperity.”
- Julius Barnes, head of Hoover’s National Business Survey Conference, Mar 16, 1930
“… the outlook continues favorable…”
- HES Mar 29, 1930


14 “… the outlook is favorable…”
- HES Apr 19, 1930

15. “While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst — and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us.”
- Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930
“…by May or June the spring recovery forecast in our letters of last December and November should clearly be apparent…”
- HES May 17, 1930

“Gentleman, you have come sixty days too late. The depression is over.”
- Herbert Hoover, responding to a delegation requesting a public works program to help speed the recovery, June 1930


16. “… irregular and conflicting movements of business should soon give way to a sustained recovery…”
- HES June 28, 1930

17. “… the present depression has about spent its force…”
- HES, Aug 30, 1930

18. “We are now near the end of the declining phase of the depression.”
- HES Nov 15, 1930

19. “Stabilization at [present] levels is clearly possible.”
- HES Oct 31, 1931

20. “All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed… and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S.”
- President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933

Posted by: amjoe at September 15, 2007 11:02 PM
Comment #233433

amjoe, the succinct lesson of your quotes is, the past can not logically be, in and of itself, prologue to a similar future. I see Democrats and Republicans nearly every day on C-Span in one phrase or another deny the horrendous economic upheavals and suffering coming our way as a direct result of their incompetence, ineffectiveness, and corruption in ignoring the rising debt confluence with 77 million aging Americans due to start retiring in just 9 years from now.

More than 10 years now they have ignored the warnings of preeminent economists like Greenspan and Bernanke, and yet they continue to insist they are the right people for the job of leading this country. And Democrat and Republican voters eat that crap up. This democratic experiment is truly showing many signs of failing.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 19, 2007 10:57 AM
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