17 November 2014

Bob Herbert Is a Moron, and the All Volunteer Army Rocks

"The all-volunteer Army isn't working."

That's how Bob Herbert, a former distinguished columnist for the New York Times, opened one of his distinguished pieces in June 2005. Herbert is now a distinguished senior fellow for the left-wing think tank, Demos. "Dinstinguished" is the kind of modifier that lacks valence. William Safire distinguished. But so is Jason Blair. 

I assume Herbert earned the title for making provably false assertions to support his ideology masked as a legitimate critique of defense policy. One of his favorite assertions is that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was based on a false pretense. Whatever the merits of that claim, the doozy that, "The all-volunteer Army isn't working" makes it sound laughable by comparison. 

Herbert picked the most perilous time in the Army's volunteer era to make his proclamation that it was dysfunctional. He was in lock step with the anti-Iraq War movement impugning civilians in charge of the military with an eagerness to send American kids of to die for oil.
According to him, "hawks want their wars fought with other people's children." 

Self-righteous journalists write their headlines at the expense of those children. Did Bob Herbert ever report from a combat zone? No. But he didn't mind trying to attract readers with feigned empathy for those who did. 

It's interesting how I came across his piece. Not in the habit of reading the NYT for contemporary news, I nevertheless turned to the Paper of Record to get some facts about the Second Battle of Fallujah for a series I am composing on the ten-year anniversary of that campaign. 

What I didn't find was any solid reporting about the battle. No stories of specific actions, troop deaths, progress on retaking the insurgent stronghold-- you know, things you might expect to find in a newspaper. It seems that the NYT's main contribution to that important era in our military's history was to second guess the politics and make the case that volunteers couldn't cut it.

Blasting the All-Volunteer Force has lately been a favorite past time of the Left. Ironically, it was the same anti-war factions that condemned the Vietnam-era draft as "unpatriotic"and "unfair." It took a republican president and a conservative brain trust to dismantle conscription.

Since the draft was ended in 1973, the American military has been unmatched in combat effectiveness. 

Ten years after the Second Battle of Fallujah, it is easy to see that. So what was Bob Herbert thinking? Well, six months after Fallujah, it wasn't a stretch to say the war was "going badly." But then Herbert made a dangerous logical leap:
...a backlash is developing that could cripple the nation's ability to wage war without a draft. 
That assertion has been proven totally indefensible on factual grounds. 

I've made very bad predictions, and I don't fault Herbert for getting it wrong. The mistake Herbert made was to insert his distaste for the Iraq war into a discussion about whether volunteers were up to the task. 

Fallujah was terrible. And Iraq certainly took more manpower and resources that experts planned. But those who volunteered to fight did so exceptionally, and to insist that a draft would have produced a better Army is lunacy. 

What Herbert and his ilk really wanted was the kind of outrage over the war that inspired them during Vietnam. 

But it's hard to muster a bunch of outrage on elite college campuses when students are left to study. And the Army is better without hoards of Soldiers who don't want to be there anyway. 

In other words, the all-volunteer Army is working just fine. 

No comments:

Post a Comment