The MINUTEMAN: RETURNING TO AN ARMY OF THE PEOPLE

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9781451677089: The MINUTEMAN: RETURNING TO AN ARMY OF THE PEOPLE
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A nation defines itself by the kind of army it creates for its protection. By that standard, America at the close of the twentieth century is large, powerful, and technologically sophisticated. But it is also muscle-bound, confused, wasteful, and desperately in search of a mission. In The Minuteman, former Senator Gary Hart proposes a provocative and radical restructuring of America's armed forces, asking the questions that have gone unanswered for too long: Why do we have 1.5 million men and women under arms with no major threat to our security? Why is our military budget at the same level as during the Cold War? Why are we spending more money for fewer weapons? Why are the best service personnel taking early retirement? Why is it taboo even to question the structure of our bloated military establishment?

Drawing on his long experience as a leader in the field of military reform (including twelve years on the Senate Armed Services Committee), Hart proposes a return to the oldest principles of the republic, making an impassioned case for replacing the present Cold War military with a smaller standing army and a much larger, well-trained citizen reserve -- an "army of the people." The professional nucleus would be a rapid-response force responsible for dealing with immediate crises and low-intensity conflicts, while the larger army of citizen-soldiers would be called up when national interests required a larger, sustained military presence.

From ancient times to the present, the heroes of democracy have consistently upheld two principles: that it is dangerous to maintain a large standing army in peacetime; and that free people have a civic duty to participate in their own defense. Contemporary America, by contrast, has sunk into "Eisenhower's Nightmare," beholden to a powerful military-industrial complex embracing the armed forces, military contractors, unions, Congress, and military communities economically dependent on military spending. The only way to break this cycle of dependence, Hart argues, is to restore a citizen military -- a true militia, like the one that defended Lexington and Concord. If we reject this path, he warns, we risk being truly ill-prepared for the challenges facing our nation in the century about to dawn.

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About the Author:

Gary Hart was a United States Senator from 1975 to 1987, during which time he served on the Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He was founder of the Military Reform Caucus in the Congress and was recently appointed to the Defense Policy Panel by the Secretary of Defense. He is currently a lawyer and strategic adviser who provides counsel to companies and governments on major infrastructure projects around the world. The author of eight previous books, including most recently The Patriot, Hart lives in Kittredge, Colorado.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

A Conspiracy of Silence: Why Doesn't Anyone Question the Military Status Quo?


The ideological twentieth century was a century of slaughter. Twenty million people died in World War I, and 50 million were killed in World War II. Several hundred thousand of these were Japanese civilians dead through the instrumentality of nuclear weapons thereafter used only to deter combat between superpowers. But even these, the ultimate weapons, failed to deter North Korean aggression, or Communist nationalism in Vietnam, or fundamentalist nationalism in Afghanistan, or countless local and regional conflicts since. Military theorist Martin van Creveld has calculated that, of more than twenty such conflicts since the end of the Cold War, none has been between two nation-states. Even as war achieved maximum technological sophistication, it was devolving downward to tribal use of Stone Age clubs and machetes.

The historian Barbara Tuchman defined folly on a national level as recognizing that a policy is flawed or outdated, knowing that there is a more plausible alternative, but persisting in pursuing the inferior, outdated policy nonetheless? The United States spent over four decades and trillions of tax dollars structuring a military establishment designed to deter, or if necessary defeat, the Communist bloc led by the late Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, however, neither political leadership nor military establishment has suggested the need to reorder, reform, or restructure our defense forces to cope with a dramatically changing world.

It is not as if evidence of change were not plentiful:

* Vietnam was the first warning that troops equipped and trained to fight the Soviet army in central Europe might not be prepared for guerrilla conflict waged by low-technology indigenous forces.

* A ragtag claque of Tontons Macoutes initially chased away a U.S. expeditionary force from the highly televised beaches of Haiti.

* U.S. forces were withdrawn from Mogadishu after being bloodied in a savage tribal brawl involving mostly teenagers.

* Even the more traditional war of the 1990s, in the Persian Gulf, proves the point of a changing world. Over six months were required to organize, train, and deploy coalition (largely American) forces, negotiate basing terms with the Saudi Arabians, transport the elaborate logistics and heavy equipment required of a modern army, and develop reasonably reliable intelligence on the region and the opponent. Wisely choosing maneuver over attrition warfare, the United States and its allies achieved their initial objective of liberating Kuwait quickly and effectively but failed in the larger objective of destroying Iraq's Republican Guard and deposing Saddam Hussein.

* There have been recent calls for federal forces to be used to combat drug syndicates rampant in the nation's capital.

* National consensus to maintain U.S. peacekeeping forces in Bosnia is fragile.

These and other experiences should have brought military planners to consider other post-Cold War force structures. Not to have done so is folly But this folly has its own logic. It is a perverse logic that should be called Eisenhower's Nightmare. In his valedictory, famous more in its breach than its observance, President Dwight Eisenhower warned, both as president and as general, against the creation of a "military-industrial complex" so politically and economically powerful as to take on a life of its own. This was not, as some would have it, an afterthought, the retirement sentiments of an aging statesman. "This world in arms is not spending money alone," Eisenhower said in his first months in the White House and within the first decade of the Cold War; "it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." Nevertheless, a military-industrial complex we would have, and it is still with us, representing massive corporations, powerful labor unions, economically dependent communities and states, and requiring candidates for public office to endorse procurement of major weapons systems and maintenance of military bases no longer needed and which, occasionally, the military may not even want.

The massive Cold War machine is composed of: contract-hungry politicians who prefer to serve their self-interest by lobbying for dubious weapons systems, such as the B-2 bomber or the Seawolf submarine, rather than serve a greater national good by totally restructuring military procurement; a calcified foreign policy and national security priesthood cloistered in Washington think tanks seeking to salvage remnants of Cold War theories to justify its existence; security analysts conditioned to convert every tribal rumble into a potential "major regional conflict"; military professionals more expert in budget manipulation than troop motivation and combat leadership; business and labor leaders more interested in a piece of the Pentagon pie than in a thorough shake-up of an outdated, corrupting system. This great machine grinds grimly, ineluctably onward, searching for villains, whether stone-throwing tribesmen or desert quacks, to justify its existence. Self-interest provides many reasons not to question the status quo -- but there is one overwhelming reason -- a changing world -- to do so. Not to consider serious reform of the U.S. military to respond to this changing world is, by any definition, folly on a classic scale.

An army of the people is, ipso facto, an army supported by the people. Because it is not an army of the people, support for the current Cold War permanent standing Army in peacetime will last only so long as the American economy is expanding. Even a casual glance at recent economic history, however, shows this current expansion will not last forever. Booms give way to busts because the economic gods insist on market "corrections" and "adjustments." When the economic cycle turns downward, inevitably sooner rather than later and surely before the turn of the century, revenues to the federal Treasury will diminish, the military budget will look disproportionately large, and an anxious public will finally raise questions as to whether we actually need a Cold War military. Typically, politicians will be tempted to cut and slash in the short term rather than undertake the more complex task of reform in the long term. We will end up with a somewhat smaller Cold War army, demoralized, alienated from the people, and still no better prepared for the chaotic twenty-first-century world.

Our thesis is this: post-Cold War history has presented both the opportunity and the necessity of converting our current large, standing, Regular Army to a smaller, rapid-deployment, expeditionary-intervention force backed up in the event of longer-term deployments by a larger, better-trained, and better-equipped citizen reserve army.

The issue between large regular and small reserve armies on the one hand and smaller regular and larger reserve armies on the other is not one of military competence. The often-challenged Israeli military, for example, follows the second model. Indeed, it is not principally a military issue at all. It is a political issue in the classic sense and thus an issue of civic values. It is an issue of the kind of country we are and what kind of people we want ourselves to be. Arguably, the way a nation structures its defenses is the clearest way of defining itself and its values.

Re-creation of an army of the people should not be undertaken principally to save money It should be less costly to maintain a reserve rather than a permanent standing force. And a persuasive case has yet to be made -- aside from the generic argument that "the world is a dangerous place" -- for spending $250 to $300 billion for a Cold War army to fight a defunct Soviet threat in the post-Cold War century. But the reform proposed here is not advocated primarily as a budgetary matter. Politically (with a capital P) this proposal is not presented as a leftist, antimilitary vendetta. It is, rather, a recognition of the central importance some form of defense must continue to play in guaranteeing future American national security that prompts this proposal for major military reform required in a new century of capricious challenges. Politically (with a small p), requiring political leadership to explain the national interest that requires a reserve call-up in a crisis or conflict is an important constraint on leadership's otherwise unilateral authority and is a vivid means of engaging citizens in decisions that affect their, and their sons' and daughters', lives.

Our current military establishment evolved in response to the realities of the twentieth century. These realities include: fascism's threat to conquer Europe; Communism's threat to impose its will by force on Western Europe; North Korea's invasion of South Korea; the Communist insurgency in Southeast Asia; China's emergence as a military power; concern for Japan's security; regional conflict in the Middle East; continued reliance by the United States and its allies on Persian Gulf oil; and, most recently, the rise of terrorism and radical fundamentalism.

Although certain of these realities will persist into the twenty-first century, fundamentally the Cold War realities that U.S. military forces were structured to defend against no longer exist. The single most important new global reality is the unforeseen, uncelebrated end of the Cold War. The mystery behind the dearth of celebration may rest in part with some embarrassment felt by professional cold warriors who did not see the collapse of the Soviet system coming and who, indeed, believed it never would. It may also have reflected a sober and mature judgment by Western democracies to avoid a demonstration of triumphalism embarrassing to our former adversaries. But most likely, those with a powerful stake in the status quo wished to avoid the natural public desire for demobilization of military forces on the occasion of a great victory. "There are always troubles in the world" quickly became the new doctrine of national security "experts" and foreign policy elites, and few, if any, raised the critical question as to why the United States might be required to project a massive -- and massively costly -- permanent standing military and military-industrial complex, designed to prosecute a protracted war against the Soviet Union, into a new century in which the Soviet Union existed only for curious historians to pick and sort among its pathetic rubble. Besides, the permanent standing army, being both professional and very large for the first time in American history, there were no citizen conscripts demanding demobilization in order to return to an involuntarily interrupted civilian life.

And this is the point. A permanent standing military seeks causes for its continued existence and resources to maintain itself. A citizen army -- an army of the people -- participates in the debate as to why it exists, what threat it must repel, and how and where it might be used. For a democratic republic, there is a world of difference between these two institutions. This very difference, and the reasons for it, is the subject of this book. The post-Cold War era and the dawn of a new century provide the occasion for a public debate on this subject, a subject less about what might threaten us and more about who we are.

Indeed, our constitutional history requires this debate at this time. Few subjects preoccupied the Founders of the American Republic more than that of whether to maintain a standing army in time of peace. On this question, as in others, two strains of strongly held public opinion, bracketed by Alexander Hamilton on the one hand and Patrick Henry on the other, would be laid down for debate well into the nation's third century. "If we mean to be a commercial people, or even to be secure on our Atlantic side," said Hamilton, anticipating late-twentieth-century American foreign policy, "we must endeavor, as soon as possible, to have a navy. To this purpose there must be dockyards and arsenals [at home and abroad]; and for the defense of these, fortifications, and probably garrisons." Thus, Hamilton, the commercial Federalist, anticipated the Persian Gulf War by just over two centuries. "A standing army we shall have," thundered the anti-Federalist Henry in response, "to execute the execrable commands of tyranny" Echoes of this sentiment resonated in the rhetoric of Vietnam protest.

More is at stake in this debate now, as then, than simply the question of allocation of financial resources between civilian and military needs. This is not to say that public expenditures in excess of $250 billion annually in time of peace is inconsequential. But money is not the only or even the principal issue. At issue also is the greater latitude possessed by a commander-in-chief to commit a permanent standing army than to commit a militia-reserve army. At issue is the role and responsibility of the citizen in defense of the nation. At issue is the Founders' intention that state-maintained militias play a role in securing the nation, and thus the true reason for the constitutional guarantee of the fight to bear arms. At issue is whether technology requires a military professionalism at odds with the republican ideal of the citizen soldier. At issue is whether military matters, including whether, when, where, and how to deploy American forces, have become too complex for the ordinary citizen in a democracy At issue is the sinister sanction given by America's leaders in the Persian Gulf War to the conversion of U.S. military forces into a mercenary army -- Saudi Arabia's Hessians -- for the first time in American history. At issue is the continuing tendency by Washington elites to define our national "interests," requiring deployment of military forces for their protection, absent debate and consent by American citizens. At issue is a new definition of national security and a clear definition of threats to it. At issue, quite simply, are the values of our society and the kind of country we want to be in the next century.

There is an imperative to the reintegration of military issues and the makeup of our armed forces back into the life of our society. A society defines itself and its values in many ways, not least through the way it structures its armed forces. To abandon the question of the disposition of the lives of our sons and daughters to the "professionals" is an abdication of moral responsibility in a mature democratic republic. We no longer possess the excuse, conveniently presented by the Cold War and the threat of Communism, that military issues are too complex, too technical, too abstract for the average citizen to comprehend. Even our elected representatives in Congress, as I know from immediate experience, find it too convenient to leave military matters to the "experts," to give their proxies to colleagues on congressional Armed Services committees on questions of manpower and weaponry, to succumb to the imperatives of the Pentagon, to confess ignorance on "threat assessments," to consider only the jobs created by new weapons systems and not their effectiveness or necessity, to play courtier to defense professionals, weapons contractors, and prominent national security virtuosos, to sacrifice their constitutional responsibilities out of fear, favor, or torpidity.

The great secret of the "defense debate" (which is not a genuine debate), however, is that on the great issue of the role of the military in a democratic republic there are no ultimate experts. On the foundational question of America's role in the world and the means, including military means, for pursuing it, every citizen is...

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Book Description Free Press, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. A nation defines itself by the kind of army it creates for its protection. By that standard, America at the close of the twentieth century is large, powerful, and technologically sophisticated. But it is also muscle-bound, confused, wasteful, and desperately in search of a mission. In The Minuteman, former Senator Gary Hart proposes a provocative and radical restructuring of America's armed forces, asking the questions that have gone unanswered for too long: Why do we have 1.5 million men and women under arms with no major threat to our security? Why is our military budget at the same level as during the Cold War? Why are we spending more money for fewer weapons? Why are the best service personnel taking early retirement? Why is it taboo even to question the structure of our bloated military establishment? Drawing on his long experience as a leader in the field of military reform (including twelve years on the Senate Armed Services Committee), Hart proposes a return to the oldest principles of the republic, making an impassioned case for replacing the present Cold War military with a smaller standing army and a much larger, well-trained citizen reserve -- an "army of the people." The professional nucleus would be a rapid-response force responsible for dealing with immediate crises and low-intensity conflicts, while the larger army of citizen-soldiers would be called up when national interests required a larger, sustained military presence. From ancient times to the present, the heroes of democracy have consistently upheld two principles: that it is dangerous to maintain a large standing army in peacetime; and that free people have a civic duty to participate in their own defense. Contemporary America, by contrast, has sunk into "Eisenhower's Nightmare," beholden to a powerful military-industrial complex embracing the armed forces, military contractors, unions, Congress, and military communities economically dependent on military spending. The only way to break this cycle of dependence, Hart argues, is to restore a citizen military -- a true militia, like the one that defended Lexington and Concord. If we reject this path, he warns, we risk being truly ill-prepared for the challenges facing our nation in the century about to dawn. Seller Inventory # AAV9781451677089

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