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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Denis Keohane

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Denis Keohane

Last Build Date: Sun, 05 Nov 2006 00:35:31 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

The Caring Culture vs. the Warrior Culture

Sun, 05 Nov 2006 00:35:31 -0600

For just one example and all other flaws and lunacies of his policy prescriptions aside, I believe that Rep. John Murtha, in his own genuine way, cares intensely about our soldiers. His well known and numerous trips to VA hospitals over the years are, in my mind, more than just a political ploy. There is a clash of cultures at work in this, between the historic Democratic culture of 'caring', and those who value the 'warrior culture' of our military. Both sides care, but express that care with very different methods. One can hardly find a Democrat anywhere who, when addressing the topic of support for our troops, does not immediately go to the subject of Veteran's medical benefits, followed shortly by education and retraining programs. When it comes to addressing actual combat, the Democrats again almost invariably go to a lack of body armor or a shortage of up-armored Humvees and the like.The better of the Democratic left (and they are better than the condescending-to-hostile left from Kerry to numerous KosKids) look at the military and the veterans the military produces as another demographic constituency. Like any other needy Democrat constituency, military and veterans need their help and care, naturally delivered through the offices of a paternalistic government. The warrior culture of the military rightfully views itself as the protector and defender of citizens, politicians and the state itself. The enormous gap between those two conceptions offers a profound clash of cultures There was an oddity during the months long hi-tempo media onslaught about the troops not having enough body armor. One could find on the Milblogs and a very few news outlets complaints from soldiers in combat about being weigfhed down by too much body armor. The professional military folks understood that, as it was in the days of the armored knights, there is a tradeoff between defensive armor and aggressive mobility. Sacrificing either to the other may at times and places get you dead. If one only listened to the media and the Democrats, one had the impression that the military were all crying out to be totally encased in body protection, even should they then have moved like Robocop.The familiar Democrat solution of spend more was obvious implicit solution. I have no way of knowing if the following story, passed around the Net some months ago, is apocryphal. I suspect it is. Too many details vary from one telling to another. Yet even if it is apocryphal, the reception it got among both Vets and active duty personnel is illustrative of my point. Supposedly a woman embedded reporter was interviewing a Marine sniper. She asked him what it felt like, when he had a man in his sights, and pulled the trigger, and killed the man. The Marine supposedly replied, matter-of-factly, "Recoil, Ma'am." Here, the humor to troops and vets derives form the failure of the reporter to "get it" about combat. I am all but certain that reporters have their own jokes about troops. Such is the way of profound culture clashes. The better Democrats know that at times we must commit troops to combat, but always see it is a failure of some sort, not the lesser and more acceptable of two evils it often can be. I posit that this disjunction sets up an internal conflict for them. Even if the better Democrats understand that victory is a priority, that priority will always be in competition with another: caring. The shooting will no sooner start than they will want to get the troops out of there, because they care! They don't want to see anyone suffer! Yet the warrior culture, when that shooting starts, sees the priority clearly and simply as: we fight to win. Democrats will shout to the rooftops for more armor to protect the troops, but far fewer Democrats have historically supported a military expenditure for a more lethal weapons system of any kind. The warriors know there are two ways of protecting yourself: armored defense or an aggressive attack that eliminates the threat. Being warriors, they prefer the latter. If one were to get all informati[...]