Liberals and the war on the military
Part III in the series "The Liberal War on America"
By Joe Roessler
" I am writing too in the hope that my telling this
one story will help you to understand more clearly how so many fine people
have come to find themselves still loving their country but loathing the
military, to which you and other good men have devoted years, lifetimes,
of the best service you could give. To many of us, it is no longer clear
what is service and what is disservice, or if it is clear, the conclusion
is likely to be illegal. "
"I have heard you, now hear me. I disagree with you.
We were still wrong in fighting that war."
"Why have welfare reform? Welfare benefits are no
different than benefits given to the military."
The military has always been a popular target for today's liberal politicians. From women in combat, to "don't ask and don't tell" policies, they treat the military with disdain, social criticism and make it a forefront for social engineering. Liberals proudly proclaim President John F. Kennedy as one of their own but rarely acknowledge his military background or that he was a pro-military president.
Whenever the U.S. Navy visits certain liberal hotbeds such as San Francisco or Seattle for Fleet Week, the editorial pages in the local newspapers are full of anti-military sentiment. Last year when the Navy's Blue Angels flew over Lake Washington during Seattle's Fleet Week, editorial pages were full of letters from irate residents complaining about noise to how Fleet Week funds should be allocated to support local schools or feed the homeless.
The U.S. military has not been in good shape since the Gulf War. Active duty numbers are down. The Army is down to less than 500,000 troops. The Navy, less than 370,000 sailors and the Air Force has shrunk to 375,000 airman and the Marines at 148,000. To make the total numbers look impressive; the services now add non-participating reservists to their manpower rosters. These are personnel who separated from active duty and are fulfilling their remaining years on their contract. They do not train with a local reserve unit on weekends. If funding permits, they may be asked to report to a military facility for an annual physical. Retention of skilled personnel has been dismal as well as recruiting. Recruiting costs have skyrocketed with discouraging results.
Many so-called experts attribute the military's manpower problems to the "booming" economy. They also point out that today's coming of age youth are less exposed to military life. This is the first generation that grew up in an environment that didn't have a family member who served. Unlike the 70's and early 80's where the coming of age youth knew someone with military experience. How much of this is true? The economy boomed during the Reagan years and the military did not have recruiting or retention problems unlike now. During of the Reagan build up, the numbers and the quality of recruits were up. The military could afford to be selective and demanded better quality recruits. What has happened since Desert Storm? To find the answers we will have to go back to the 1960's.
The problems with the military and the first shots of the liberal war against it started during the Vietnam War. The infamous protests, burning of draft cards, Chicago riots, and the 1969 Student Moratorium in Washington DC organized by none other than the current commander-in-chief, Bill Clinton. Anti-military fever was sweeping across campuses. ROTC buildings were burned or bombed. College students cheered at casualty reports of Americans killed or wounded in action. Some anti-war groups organized students to call up families of service members killed in action to harass them! Returning veterans were harassed, spat upon and taunted by peacenicks. And some were murdered. An Air Force recruiter was stabbed to death in his office in Berkeley, California by a war protester. When arrested the suspect told police he killed the recruiter because he sent people to war. Many of these people who participated in the anti-war movement are now in the echelons of government including Bill Clinton and Tom Hayden.
When the Vietnam War ended the liberal war against the military was shifted to the halls of Congress. The election of Jimmy Carter brought amnesty to draft evaders. Some veterans and future veterans were stripped of their civil service preferences in hiring and determination for veteran's benefits. Pressure from non-veterans employment rights groups were behind the move to reform civil service hiring practices. The GI Bill that started during World War Two ended in 1976 and funds for it was shifted for grants, and government backed student loans that were given away with no obligation. Congress replaced the Vietnam Era GI Bill with a program called Veterans Educational Assistance Program. The government contributed two dollars for every dollar the service member put into VEAP. The program was a joke, as the total would amount to $8100! VEAP has since been replaced with the Montgomery GI Bill in 1985. Though much improve from VEAP, the Montgomery version does not come close to the original GI Bill.
During the Ford-Carter years, pay raises for the military were minuscule. Inflation in the 70's averaged anywhere from an annual rate of six to seven per cent to 21 per cent in 1979! The president and congress as a forefront in fighting inflation used the military. Pay raises were capped around 3.2 to 3.5 per cent. It was normal to see military personnel working part time in convenience stores, restaurants and retail outlets to make ends meet. During the Iranian hostage crises, many married junior enlisted personnel in the Persian Gulf served with dedication while their wives were buying groceries from commissaries using food stamps. Morale and retention problems were raging. Quality of recruits had diminished from conscription days.
The liberal war against the military continued and escalated under Bill Clinton. As commander-in-chief his first priority of his first week in office: Homosexuals in the military. The national homosexual organization LAMDA donated $6 million to his campaign in 92. His biggest opponent was none other than former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. When Clinton's plan for open homosexuality in the military couldn't pass, his administration came up with "don't ask, don't tell." Since the "don't ask and don't tell" fiasco, many military discipline cases is no longer was handled by commanding officers. Instead it shifted civil courts with every liberal special interest group filing suit on behalf of someone who was disciplined by their command. Other acts of war against the military since Clinton took office include:
* In 1994, a Clinton-appointed Pentagon official for the Naval Reserves told a group of sailors at Naval Air Station Alameda that weekend drills may consists of "community building" instead of preparing for war. He told drilling reservists that do not be surprised if you are asked to go into the inner city and paint buildings and play baseball with the kids! Naval Air Station Alameda is now closed and the sailors who were drilling or stationed there has left the Navy or transferred to other activities.
* Recent surveys showed the Air Force had the highest rate of dissatisfaction amongst enlisted personnel and the Marine Corps the lowest. This doesn't mean there is fewer disgruntled Marines as their rate stood at 48 per cent and the Air Force at 64 per cent! The branch of service that did the least change to the politically correct environment imposed by this administration is the one with the lowest dissatisfaction rate.
* Former Assistant Secretary for the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Sara Lister, appointed by Clinton, said, "The Marines are extremists. Wherever you have extremists, you've got some risks of total disconnection with society. And that's a little dangerous." Mrs. Lister was also taped at the conference mocking the Marine Corps uniform.
* The Clinton Administration began to put women on board combat ships and in rates and job classifications that were closed to them previously. Sexual harassment complaints and fraternization cases increased as well as pregnancy rates of women on board ships. The numbers are hidden below bureaucratic smiles as they present to a complacent public that everything is all right. Many senior officers with impressive military records and combat duty were forced to retire or resign due to "sexual harassment" charges brought upon by women who failed flight officer's school. A commonplace in the Navy since the Tailhook incident.
* With backing from several homosexual legal rights groups, President Clinton recently signed an executive order allowing for tougher sentences under the U.S. military's criminal code for hate crimes motivated by race, color, religion and sexual orientation. This executive order was signed despite of Uniform Code of Military Justice articles against murder of any kind.
* While dodging the draft during the Vietnam War, President Clinton tried to exempt himself from the Paula Jones lawsuit under the Soldier Sailor Relief Act because he was on......."active duty."
Strong evidence of the liberal war against the military is in the area of retirement. Retired veterans lost their veterans preference for civil service and are considered non-veterans during reduction-in-force procedures. This came about after the Vietnam War when many people were complaining about "double dippers." "Double dippers" are retired veterans who collect their military retainer pay while earning a civil service paycheck. Retired military personnel were promised free medical care for life. Today, when they turn 65 they are kicked out of military hospitals and forced to go on Medicare, the same hospital benefits given to non-veterans! Retired military personnel also had dental benefits. That promise disappeared over 20 years ago. With the physicians' draft ended, the All-Volunteer Force could not recruit nor retain qualified doctors or dentists. Military hospitals had to prioritize by serving active duty first and retired personnel were last on the list.
Calculation for military retirement formulas has changed three times since 1980. Prior to 1980 the straight 50 per cent formula was used to determine retainer pay. In quest to save money the formula was changed where a servicemember who entered active duty from September of 1980 to 1986 received 40 per cent and those who entered after 1986 received 35 per cent. Meanwhile congressional retirement pensions remain unchanged.
A bill introduced by former Colorado Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder and passed by a Democratic controlled Congress in 1982 has probably done more damage to erode the morale of career military personnel than any potential enemy. She did this after the Supreme Court ruled that retainer pay couldn't be considered property in divorce cases. Her bill that became law is the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act. Under pressure from feminist groups this law allows state divorce courts to treat military retired pay as property that can be divided like real estate or mutual funds when a marriage turns sour. It authorizes the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, upon receipt of a valid court order, to divert up to 50 percent of the retiree's annuity to an ex-spouse as property. Another 15 percent can be tapped for child support or alimony. Each month, under the FSPA, 43,000 persons who never served in uniform get a military retirement check. They are ex-spouses of retirees who, by law, earned a share of the members' retirement by being married to them at least 10 years during their military careers.
The condition of today's armed forces is similar or worse to that of the post-Vietnam military of the late 70's. Many senior officers and career enlisted grumble about the quality of recruits. Retention is a problem again! Active duty personnel are once more moonlighting and dependents of junior personnel are buying their groceries with food stamps. What was Congress' and the president's solution? A paltry 4.8 per cent pay increase! In 1980 President Carter signed the Nunn-Warner Act of 1980 giving the military a 11.7 per cent pay raise and a year later President Reagan signed a pay increase of 14.3 per cent!
When the post Desert Storm drawdown commenced in 1992, military officials told remaining troops that the drawdown was good for the military. Career enlisted and officers were told that only unhappy people were leaving. They were "cutting the fat" and the services were to be more efficient once the drawdown ended. By 1994 when the first round of cutbacks was complete, the armed forces were anorexic. Many took advantage of separation bonuses and early outs and left the military for higher paying civilian jobs. Situation was not isolated to active duty forces but to the reserves as well.
In many military reserve activities, full time reservists on active duty
outnumber their weekend warrior counterparts.
Training for both active duty and reservists include sensitivity training, lectures on sexual harassment, fraternization, ethics and AIDS awareness. In order to get more funding, base commanders point out to cultural and environmental advantages of their post or base to influential political appointees at the Pentagon. An Army base in Utah has a GS-12 Cultural Anthropologist who is an authority on Indian arrowheads. Military magazines published by the Pentagon contain articles informing troops on environmental awareness and never ending messages of multiculturalism. When promotion lists are published, selected candidates lean heavily towards women and members of minority groups. And now liberals want a quota for military officers to make the officer corps resemble makeup of the general population. Quantity not quality seems to be the buzzword from the Clinton appointees who run the military. Sheila Widnall, who has since resigned, was the first woman ever appointed to be the Secretary of the Air Force. Clinton and the feminists loved it, but she was a disaster for the Air Force.
The Army ensured it's mid-term career enlisted and officers during the last drawdown that there will be no more "Task Force Smith's" after the downsizing was complete. Task Force Smith was in the early days of the Korean War when ill-equipped and ill-trained American occupation troops from Japan were thrown into combat against the well trained and heavily armed North Korean People's Army. The "forgotten war" is making headlines again with accusations of killings by American troops from the civilians who claim to be at No Gun Ri. If this incident really happened, No Gun Ri supposedly took place six weeks after the Korean War started.
No one will really know what happened at No Gun Ri. Who was right or who was wrong is not the question. War is war and the cruelty of it is civilians do get killed and that includes women and children. No amount of sensitivity or cultural awareness training is going to change that. Incidences such as No Gun Ri will always be viewed in hindsight by academics and journalists who never served in the military. Unfortunately in this day of overblown emotionalism and press sensationalism, the media always finds "experts" such as a professor who wrote a book or a lawyer who never served in the military. They will imply that racism was involved in such incidents or that these men can be tried for war crimes.
The military is trained to go to war, not paint over graffiti on inner city buildings or be referees for midnight basketball. Liberals tend to forget that the function of the federal government is to provide a common defense and it's written in our constitution. No where is there a clause or an amendment where the government is to divide wealth, provide free lunches or pay people's heating bills. However cuts from the defense budget has been shifted to fund these programs.
Lowering of standards, applying social experiments, cutting military budgets to award social programs and cutbacks in weapons, spare parts and training all contribute to the low morale and lack of discipline in the military ranks. The liberals decry those that support a strong military as warmongers or fascists. A strong well-prepared and well-equipped military sustains peace and deters war. But the liberal war on the military continues.
The old Strategic Air Command had a motto "Peace is our Profession." There are those including this writer who believes in peace through strength. In the international arena, a strong military gives you a better negotiating stance. Today, America has its own version of Neville Chamberlain in the White House. He is Bill Clinton who believes in leveling the international playing field by selling and giving nuclear technology secrets to the Chinese Communists for campaign money. He believes in giving the North Koreans free nuclear reactors, oil and food so they will not test long range missiles and without verification dismantle it's nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile Pyongyang maintains over one million men armed and ready at the DMZ poised to invade South Korea. The war against terrorism fades as his poll number goes up. Saddam is Clinton's punching bag when his poll numbers are down and a few token bombs on Iraq still does not solve the Iraqi chemical and biological weapons problem. Despite of tough talk from the president and the Secretary of State, Osama Bin Laden still roams the deserts of the Middle East and Southwest Asia. American troops are spread thin throughout the world in "peacekeeping" missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti and East Timor. The president has a naïve notion that if America was to rid of itself of nuclear weapons through an Anti-American inspired Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the world will follow suit.
While returning home to London in 1938, Adolf Hitler referred to then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as a "little worm." Hitler ridiculed the Munich Pact and proclaimed that treaties are "just a piece of paper." The Nazis went on to occupy all of Czechoslovakia in the great appeasement giveaway. One year later the Nazis signed a non-aggression pact with Stalin and the Soviets. Hitler proved his view that a treaty is a mere piece of paper by invading the Soviet Union two years later in June of 1941 and in three months his troops were within the gates of Moscow.
History does repeat itself. The story is the same, but the actors on the stage are different. The American armed forces are now the smallest since World War Two. It's compared in some circles to the pre-World War Two military. However, the liberals in America continue their siege. They live in a fantasy world that American military power is dangerous and must be weakened to preserve order and world peace. In reading the archives of history it has shown the exact opposite.
Joe Roessler is married with two children and a former columnist for Right Magazine who wrote "Thoughts from an Average Joe" and is a businessman in Burlington, Washington.
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