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The Most Greatest Institution in Human History...Our Communist Military!

“Government at all levels is too large, too expensive, woefully inefficient, arrogant, intrusive, and downright dangerous.”

The above quote comes from the Libertarian Party website. For the purposes of our series “Our Communist Military” that single line sums up the thinking of “small government conservatives”, libertarians, “free market capitalists” and the Republican party.
Summarized, the government equals terrible.

Which is fine for a political philosophy, if you want to embrace that thinking. But you can’t think that the government equals terrible, then sign your name to a document that says the opposite. In two weeks, we plan to celebrate the one year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. During our research, we came across an amazing statement signed by a host of military bloggers published on May 12, 2010. Here’s the first paragraph:

“We consider the US military the greatest institution for good that has ever existed. No other organization has freed more people from oppression, done more humanitarian work or rescued more from natural disasters. We want that to continue.”

Greatest institution.

For good.

That has ever.

Existed. (Our bolding.)

This statement was signed by fifteen military bloggers, including four authors from BlackFive.net and Mark Seavey from This Aint Hell. Yet many conservative milbloggers hate the government, specifically, anything that smacks of “socialism”:

- Uncle Jimbo calls himself a “libertarian” in this post. He also calls President Obama’s policies “Obamunism” in this post.

- This BlackFive.net post by “Deebow” talks about how, if he were President, he would, “get government out of the way” of Americans. It also advocates for several more small government approaches to governance.   

- The spokesman for Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund called President Obama, “Communist in Chief Hussein Mao Obama”.

- Writing on A Soldier’s Perspective (a blog which didn’t sign the above statement, but believes in the military as one of our greatest institutions) Wes writes that he doesn’t want America “teetering off the abyss into socialism”.   

- And This Aint Hell really hates the scary spectre of socialism. In this post, the authors admonish us to “remember the basic tenet of socialism: it is a leveling of all things, including nations.” This other post calls President Obama’s political team a “thoroughly liberal/socialist/communist movement”.

Milbloggers aren’t the only conservatives holding two incompatible ideas in their head at the same time. Politicians from Senator John McCain to Mitt Romney to Congressman Paul Ryan argue that we need to shrink the federal government but increase defense spending.

Something doesn’t make sense here. How can the greatest organization in the history of the earth...be a product of the government, which allegedly causes only inefficiencies, waste, and tyranny? How does that jibe with the idea that a big government program--the biggest government program in discretionary spending--is the single greatest institution in, not just the history of the U.S., but the history of the world?

Most small government conservatives don’t bother reconciling these arguments. Like Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney’s budget plans, they simply say, “Shrink the federal government to nothing, except for national security and defense.” Small government supporters love espousing libertarian ideals until they run into the consequences, like a drastically smaller Department of Defense. This shows the gap between ideology and action; conservatives have constituencies, and those constituencies don’t like cuts.

Libertarians also won’t admit that the military suffers from the same problems that the rest of the government does. As we will keep showing that blind support for the military prevents the Pentagon from implementing cost cutting measures and efficiencies needed to bring it into the 21st century. Pro-military milbloggers call any and every one who even thinks about criticizing the military unpatriotic. (More on this later.)

If the military is the greatest institution ever created by man, then it can probably take a little criticism. And if it is the greatest institution ever created, can government create another?

nine comments

The problem here is absolutes. The Republicans/libertarians want to say, “All Government is bad” when they really, obviously don’t think that.

All mega-institutions—churches, corporations, governments, charities—have problems. To single out government is ridiculous. The military is the ultimate example of government working.

Like a post we put up a few weeks back, consider this the “research” edition to our first post, “Our Communist Military”. We might do another post on military blogs specifically, but milblogs absolutely, unwaveringly love the military. And believe in its greatness. At a core level, this conflicts with their unwavering hatred of socialism.

Expect more.

The fact is, Americans (as a whole) are capable of amazing cognitive dissonance when it comes to government entitlements/benefits/social programs. Entitlements and social programs are something other people receive. (In a famous quip, a Tea Partier raged, “Get your government hands off my Medicare”!)

According to a recent poll, a large number of those receiving government benefits (subsidies, earned income tax credit, GI Bill, etc) did not see themselves as benefitting from a government social program…including 40% of those receiving Social Security and Medicare.


This map from the NY Times kind of lays out just where the money is going…contrary to what the politicians may be saying, large payouts are going to Red States and Blue States.

We need a wakeup call—we either need to reduce/reform the entire entitlement system, or we need to start paying more in taxes to fund them. We simply cannot continue on this course of action.

This one has been marinating in my mind since your first post on the subject a few days ago. I assume your assertions about conservatives believing all government to be evil are somewhat tongue in cheek and crafted to elicit a passionate response. For the record, I’m a conservative, a veteran, and a blogger.

Concerning the military being communist and conservatives contradicting themselves in praising it, I submit that conservatives believe government to be good insofar as it is needed to protect (not provide) citizens’ basic God-given rights, ensure equal treatment under the law, and provide for the common defense. You can Google ‘enumerated powers’ for a more detailed list. It’s when government reaches beyond these bounds that conservatives have issues. Under this philosophy, government is seen as a necessary evil that should be limited as much as possible. Service members understand that they surrender certain rights when they join up. It’s the first of many sacrifices each makes in defense of their country. Another necessary evil. This is perhaps one reason why veterans treasure these rights all the more after leaving the service. Unlike Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare, military service is voluntary. Even the draft doesn’t hold onto anyone for life (assuming they survive the war). I experienced the military healthcare system as an army brat where I sat in the E.R. for six hours with two broken bones in my arm when I was eight. I also witnessed the incompetence of a botched caesarian section with my second son. My wife still bears the scars and nerve damage twelve years later. The system is garbage and you’re not allowed to sue for malpractice. When Tricare expanded options to include private doctors in the late 90s, troops flocked to this option in spite of higher out of pocket costs. My military service is not far enough behind me to be romanticized into all gumdrops and lollipops. The military is certainly not perfect. I wouldn’t claim it’s a model of efficiency either. I think there is plenty of room to make it leaner above the unit level where troops have had to train in make-believe tanks and horde copy paper due to budget crunches. Most cuts should take place in dealings with contractors where I believe we’re getting fleeced. For example, a B-2 bomber costs $2 billion. The original projection was $270 million per plane. In short, the argument for our military being the greatest force for good is independent of politics and economic efficiency. It’s a matter of sacrifice and results. I’ll leave it at that.

@ Starbuck – Yep, and that is the disconnect we are trying to get add. We need to have a coherent discussion that lays out where government does and doesn’t work, but it can’t rely on platitudes.

@ R.A.- I would say, see Starbuck’s comment. Sure, conservatives say that they want government to “protect (not provide) citizen’s basic rights”. But then they don’t consider Medicare a part of the government. Or disability insurance. Or they consider that they deserve their benefits, its those other people who don’t.

Further, any libertarian who wants a small government should want a small military. The most dangerous part of government from a “tyranny” standpoint isn’t Medicare, its the military. Name me a coup or dictator who started his career in a non police, intelligence or military field. Health and Human Services won’t take away our freedom, the military can.

Final point: soldiers and veterans do not “treasure” their rights any more than any other civilian. As our series will point out, many conservative positions interpret rights completely, or completely exempt the military. There is not a shred of proof that veterans treasure their rights more than any other American, and believing so sets a dangerous precedent for a democracy.

Aren’t you guys committing a logical fallacy (of some type, I don’t know enough to come up with the name) when you suggest that if the gov can make a good thing, it can’t make a bad thing?

Also I think you are being a bit simplistic when you suggest a large military is a threat to liberty. The Royal Navy consumed a very large part of British resources for a lot of years and freedom expanded in Great Britain. And for a military to be a threat to liberty there normally has to be a tradition of that within the culture of which you speak. In modern Argentina a large powerful military poses a much different threat to liberty than does even a large powerful Russian military. The Argentines have a tradition of soldiers taking over. The Russians don’t. They let the secret police do it. We don’t have a tradition of soldiers taking the place over. No English speaking country does.

Police and intel types are the greater danger to us. And they don’t act on their own but at the direction of politicians. The politicians act to protect or expand their power and one of their bases of power are the powerful government agencies. So with that in mind, I think, yeah HHS is a greater threat to me than the military.

Starbuck: I think there is only one choice, reduce/reform the entitlements. If you run the numbers you can’t tax enough to pay for it all.

Carl, good comment. I would suggest that the logicial issue that the C.‘s are addressing is the inconsisteny between thinking the government is incapable of doing good, but also created the “greatest institution in history.” I don’t think that implies the converse that because the government produced one good thing, it cannot produce poor quality programs. The issue is categorical thinking on the part of contemporary militarists.

C.‘s, will you be discussing militarism in this series? I’m reading Bavevich’s book on the topic, and I think a lot of his analysis has direct bearing on the military-worship you are addressing.

Sorry for being late on the responses here, I just noticed them:

@ Carl – the fallacy we’re addressing is that most conservatives believe—and we’ll prove this in upcoming posts—that the government can’t do anything right. But then the military disputes that. My opinion? A large institution of any type—government, religion, corporation, non-profit—can fail or succeed. Conservatives would disagree.

@ Duck -Yes and no. We’ll definitely condemn the rah-rah military crowd who unconditionally loves our military without reservation or criticism. And in general, we fight against militarism on the blog. I am a pacifist, after all.

“Also I think you are being a bit simplistic when you suggest a large military is a threat to liberty. The Royal Navy consumed a very large part of British resources for a lot of years and freedom expanded in Great Britain.”

The Royal Navy kicked arse abroad on the high seas. It didn’t sail up the Thames and keep the U.K. under it’s guns and enforce dictates against the King’s subjects.