"To fulfill its self-imposed obligations as sole superpower, the United States would need a citizenry that subscribes to the cwarrior-patriot’s code: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. How sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country. Most Americans are far more likely to subscribe to the code vividly displayed each weekend in Style sections of newspapers. There, the appeal of dying for one’s country takes a backseat to the latest tips on relationships, restaurants, recipes, street wear, household furnishings, and places to be seen.
Between what our duties as a self-proclaimed indispensable nation ostensibly require and what our freewheeling culture encourages, there exists a contradiction. In the White House, the Pentagon, and the Congress, the stewards of U.S. national security policy assume they can manage that contradiction. Yet day-by-day, evidence suggesting otherwise piles up." Dallas news.
Colonel (Ret.) Doctor Bacevich believes that the numbers recruitable for the US armed forces on a voluntary basis are not large enough to sustain a foreign policy as aggressive as ours.
He and I fought in Vietnam. We had over 500,000 troops there in 1968 just before Nixon's phased withdrawal began. There were also several hundred thousand anticommunist native troops. South Vietnam and the adjoining countries were very large. The numbers available to us were, IMO, marginal in the task of trying to defend the country against the Viet Cong/NVA.
If that is so, then how ridiculous was the attempt to occupy and pacify Iraq and/or Afghanistan with what amounted to a relative handful of men. It was obvious from the beginning that the numbers available were too small. The voodoo semi-religion of COIN was used to inflict the delusion of sufficiency of forces on the armed forces of the US. This doctrinal fantasy was spread by people like McMaster, Nagl, Kilcullen and a cluster of other "children" who professed to have learned in libraries that VN was lost to the communists because the US blundered around in the jungles and rice paddies throughout the war trying to re-fight the Battle of the Bulge or the Okinawa campaign. In fact the US sought assiduously to apply the COIN folly to VN throughout the war, and did it with resources that were vastly greater than any available in the GWOT. I was there and worked with the CORDS/COIN apparat. So, I guess I probably know what I am talking about.
Colonel Bacevich does not seem very specific about the solution to the question that he poses.
It seems clear to me that the draft will not return. Bacevich says that as well. He and I agree that American culture is now so sybaritic and self-obsessed that it is unlikely that the force necessary to pursue our self-assigned mission of world "purification" can be created and maintained.
As a rationalist I feel it necessary to say that the "reach" of US foreign policy has, since 9/11, exceeded its "grasp." We should give up our R2P dreams and define US security interest as being the defense of the homeland. If we do that then the numbers available and our policy would begin to match. pl