Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Professional Armies = Slow-Motion Fascism by Louis Evan Palmer

As the largest military power in the world currently, this article will focus on the use of no-draft armies in the United States.

In the 1970s, one of the key lessons that America should have been drawn from the Vietnam conflict was not to fight unjust and unnecessary wars. Instead however, one of the the lessons that was actually drawn by the Americans was to eliminate opposition by eliminating the draft.

The Vietnam-era draft and the necessity of inducting citizens from all persuasions and backgrounds ensured that there would be a lot of soldiers (and to a lesser extent, sailors and airmen) opposed to the military, the war, and its conduct of the war. It didn't stop much but it did give it attention and it did produce protest and opposition. Back then, the media wasn't totally muffled and monopolized (somewhat but not completely) so those bellows of opposition were heard.

A no-draft armed forces seemed like a solution made in heaven - to trade money for domestic peace, a large obedient armed forces, and wide latitude in exerting military might (who cares about the soldiers, they're all "volunteers"). Once this capability was established, it facilitated other complementary actions like subversion, intelligence operations, economic warfare under the guise of aids and protections for American corporations, and a new-fangled gunboat diplomacy. All of this went on before but now it was that much easier. Many other nations have adopted this all-professional armed forces approach including the United Kingdom, Canada, France.

Part of the argument is the same as that used for professionalizing Police Forces or Fire Departments - better police, better fire fighters. However, the pool of talent available for police and fire departments is substantially greater than the requirement so the quality of the recruits is typically high. This is not usually true for the Armed Forces and thus, we find that the quality of the recruits is lower and prone to being allowed to go lower under the slightest duress. Because lower quality recruits don't mesh well with an increasingly high-tech military, the non-military support component (the corporate component) must expand to address that gaping need.

An important consideration for Police recruiting is the need to draw its personnel from the general population in a way that reflects that population - for example, an all white police force in an all black neighbourhood is not a good policing scenario. Because the interaction between the policed population and the police themselves is crucial, this was a factor that could only be ignored for so long. This highlights one of the primary threats of a professional Armed Forces - it is easier for them to become disconnected from the society on whose behalf they are acting.

With corrupt political leadership having taken hold in the United States and with its intent of misusing this tremendous military force (using it for the benefit of special interest groups), America has become dependent on the honour of its military commanders to protect its nation's freedoms and rights. The original idea was that politicians controlled the armed forces, not that the military commanders would have to restrain dangerous bellicose civilian leaders.

Another of the dangers of no-draft, hired armed forces is how they offer linkages to other previously unthinkable options like corporate military support functions and to mercenaries.

Mercenaries used to be the retirees, cast-offs or renegades of various armed forces who were hired by western intelligence services to fight surreptitious wars in god-forsaken countries in Africa, Asia or South America. They are now a key component of America's war efforts in Iraq. They are taking over functions traditionally performed by the military like protecting convoys. The drivers in the convoys are likely to be highly-paid employees of well-connected campaign-contribution-dispensing military arms of corporate America. These non-military employees get paid a lot more so they're drawing away very highly and expensively trained military personnel especially for mercenary jobs. And while we have diminished control over all-professional armies, we have even less control over their mercenary allies or the military arms of corporations.

A long-standing control over armies in democratic countries was the fact that the bulk of the army was comprised of citizens and its leadership at the highest level was civilian. This is no longer true of the army itself and the civilian leadership has become compromised in a number of ways.

If the proof is in the pudding, then the all-professional armies are failing. The implementation of no-draft hired armed forces has seen it crumple under the pressure of wars against the minor nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The so-called professionalism of the new all-professional army is called into question when its standards have to be dropped so as to allow gang members and ex-convicts to join and substance abusers to remain. Allegations abound that gangs are expanding throughout the military and using its facilities, training and resources to further gang power and profits.

The membership of the armed forces is also suspect when under the same pressures to maintain unit strength, citizens of foreign nations are allowed to join with an inducement of citizenship if they survive.

Since there was always a small professional core to a modern armed force, the creation of an all-professional armed force has merely expanded that readily-available force. If a situation was sufficiently grave, a draft would be still be instituted. Therefore, a non-conscript armed force dramatically expands that core force that can be applied quickly especially in small to medium sized conflicts. Rather than working towards peace, a sizable professional standing army acts as a destabilizing element.

The no-draft armed forces also exacerbates the divide between the civilian and military components of society where the armed forces is filled with mainly poor and lower-middle class recruits and an officer aristocracy on one side and civilians who have no connection to their mission on the other. Add to that anti-democratic mix, foreigners in the American army who want to jump the immigration queue. Ominously, the divide is shrinking because the military and military-related components of American society are increasing. With the compliant boosterism of the monopoly media, the checklist for full-blown fascism is nearing completion.

It appears that the epitaph for this stage of the American Republic is being written. Will it have been an all-professional armed forces that sent the final dominoes falling towards a real-live police state?

Professional Armies = Slow-Motion Fascism, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be, http;//twicb.blogspot.com

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Copyright 2008  Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.

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