The New American Militarism

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Its roots are in the experience of World War II. The burgeoning military establishment and associated industries fuel it. Anti‐Communism provides the climate which nurtures it. “It” is a “new American militarism.” General Shoup, a hero of the Battle of Tarawa in 1943, who rose to become Commandant of the United States Marine Corps for four years until his retirement in December, 1963, doesn't like it. He has written this essay in collaboration with another retired Marine officer, Colonel James A. Donovan.

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... Under the U.S. government's proactive foreign-policy strategy, this mindset aligns with the characteristics described in the previous section. The second factor incentivizing the adoption of the interventionist mindset is the desire for personal advancement within government bureaucracy (Shoup 1969). As in any organization, those employed in government agencies advance their careers by developing the appropriate skills and reputation and by signaling these abilities to key decision makers. ...
This chapter explores the formal introduction of Thucydides at the US Naval War College in 1972 as part of the wider renegotiation within the US military of its attitude toward higher professional military education (PME) in the post World War II era. The shortcomings of the United States’ highly kinetic, technical, and materially focused approach in Vietnam, driven in part by the adherence to systems analysis in the civilian leadership, led to a costly perception of warfare as a measurable science, prosecutable – and winnable – by sound calculation. The return to Thucydides in particular and history in general at the Naval War College represented a repudiation of this overly “scientific” approach to warfare. The new Strategy and Policy Curriculum at Newport, with Thucydides as its flagship module, hailed a more tentative, considered approach to educating officers, on whom the chance and uncertainty of warfare at the highest strategic level were impressed.
The dominant (though contested) wisdom among international relations scholars is that military officers tend to be more cautious than their civilian counterparts about initiating the use of force. Sobered by the experience of combat, the theory holds, soldiers are hesitant to recommend military action except under the most favorable of circumstances. It might be the case, however, that military conservatism is simply a product of strong civilian oversight. Indeed, scholars have suggested that military officers actually have powerful incentives to promote the use of force, but these predilections may be muted when civilian leaders can punish officers for botched military adventures. In this article, the author details a quantitative, competitive test of these propositions, showing that states with strong civilian control are on average less prone to initiate military action than states without it. The results suggest that civilian control should play a central role in future models of conflict initiation.
This paper will focus on the means of building the soldier's heart, spirit, and soul. The Army trains the soldier's body through physical training and combining arms training events designed to build physical strength and endurance so that the soldier will be physically capable of withstanding the rigors of battle. The Army trains the soldier's mind by education in basic, advanced, and MOS specific training. Additionally, over the course of time spent in the service, other schools and classes are conducted to sharpen intellectual skills. The Army builds the soldier's heart, spirit, and soul by the values we instill. Over the years these values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage have been trained and reinforced in several ways. They have been taught in the classroom, commented on in efficiency reports, demonstrated on the field of battle, worn around the neck with the dog tags, and carried in the wallet on a plastic card. All this is designed to hold these values before the soldier's eyes. Always, though, they have been intended to give meaning to the life of and build the soldier's heart. These values are important precisely because they define and give meaning to a soldier's life. They speak to the soldier's soul, strengthen the heart and sustain strength. This paper argues that these values can do this because they stand on a foundation that transcends all of them, Christian Virtues. While not discounting the fact that other faiths speak of virtues, Christianity has played a major if not pivotal role in the formation of the nation, the people and the Army.
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