Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 8 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/30/11

Vietnam and the New American Way of War

By       (Page 5 of 5 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page. (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
Author 41168
Message Brian M Downing

Wars and Public Life

Wars no longer involve the public as they had in every war since the Continental Congress raised forces to win independence.  Even the Vietnam War, oversimplified as a poor man's war, drew from the middle- and upper-middle classes as not every young man from those strata availed himself of a deferment.  Pride in military service was still pervasive at the outset of that war, though it became one of its unenumerated and unmourned casualties.


Today, soldiers are drawn from comparatively narrow social strata.  They serve in the military, fight their nation's wars, and suffer the casualties.  Enlistments went up following the September 11th attacks and even several offspring of the well-to-do took the oath, but most people confined their expressions of patriotism to admiring the nation's might and calling for retribution.  For the bulk of the country there is neither cost nor involvement.  A bumper sticker or a silent moment during the news suffices as a show of support for the troops.  Only graying and aged veterans question the justness of the casualties falling so heavily on narrow social strata.




The Iraq War led to spirited but unfocused protest rallies.  Most were more like colorful folk festivals than concerted political action.  The putative issue at hand was intermixed with and obscured by numerous unrelated causes.  Demonstrations sought to recreate the antiwar movement of the sixties – a time of romantic and mythic meaning to the gathered.  Opposition had little effect on the prosecution of the war or the president's reelection.


Antiwar activists diligently avoid criticism of the military, at least in public.  This too is a legacy of the old antiwar movement, which unfairly and boorishly savaged anyone in uniform from a four-star general in the Pentagon to a corporal just back from the A Shau.  This aspect of the antiwar movement later gave rise to a sense of guilt that strengthened respect for military service.  


Few Americans today openly criticize the military, regardless of its judgment or conduct.  That would be deemed unpatriotic and threaten to revisit the divisiveness of the sixties.  Few Americans today have any substantive acquaintance with military matters and cannot speak from experience or with insight, only with great passion – most of which is short-lived.



©2011 Brian M Downing


Brian M Downing is a veteran of the Vietnam War and the author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: War and Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

 

Must Read 3   Well Said 3   Valuable 3  
Rate It | View Ratings

Brian M Downing Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Brian M Downing is a national security analyst who has written for outlets across the political spectrum. He studied at Georgetown University and the University of Chicago, and did post-graduate work at Harvard's Center for International (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Israel and Iran head for war in Syria

The End Comes To The Colonel's Compound

Is there any debate on foreign policy these days?

Two Cheers for the Trump's Pakistan Tweet

Time-out in the Iran conflict?

War and change in Saudi Arabia

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: