Admiral Mullen Acknowledges a Disconnect
The Washington Post this evening, 1/11/11, reported that Admiral Mike Mullen described a great divide that was happening between the American People and the American Military. This report from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoes a sentiment that we all too often hear. The Admiral spoke of a disconnect, a sort of dissociative reaction between the government and its people. During Viet Nam there appeared to be a contempt for the American Military. There was a fever of discontent with that war and unfortunately the military caught a brutal attack by the American people. Liberals and progressives who were against the war and against involuntary service were vocal and visible in the press and in the media.
Today we have a different war and a different generation. The same republican right supports the war, but the liberal left is no longer the visible insurrection against the war. Instead of contempt for the military, we see an apathy and an ignorance about what is happening and where in the world it is happening. "Mullen, one of the last officers on active duty to have served in the Vietnam War, noted that the contempt from that era has been replaced largely by praise and inattention." In the article in the Washington Post by Greg Jaffe, there is a consciousness that the military is out there doing something, but what, how and why is not well understood.
I am concerned by the apathy. Although Admiral Mullen's comments were refreshing to hear, from the point of view of transparency, there is a major disconnect in that the atrocities of war, as well as the war itself, are a kind of backdrop and sound bite of evening news. The pictures and the reports are superficial. The words used are the same words used every night. We turn on the evening news or read on-line that one more block was blown up, or one more suicide bomber blew himself up in a public square and took nine or seventy nine people with him. It is almost as if the daily diet of several soldiers a day dying by stumbling over a land mine is expected.
The article goes on to report that The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, made a similar speech at Duke University last year in which he said that our military had become a kind of abstraction.Continued on the next page