Monday, July 02, 2012

NAVY CHARACTER: THE TURKEYS COME HOME



As I have often said on this site, so much of the damage done to Our polity in the past forty biblical years has resulted from the pols’ refusing to consider consequences and outcomes (possible, probable, inescapable). So eager were they to get a chunk of the electoral demographic pie created by their newly-embraced client-Identities that they refused to think about – or simply ignored – the consequences of both a) “advocacy-group liberalism” generally and b) the specific demands and agendas pushed their way for rubber-stamping and (lavish) funding.

And as I noted in my essay on Catharine MacKinnon’s 1989 radical-feminist summa Towards a Feminist Theory of the State (among other essays), ‘standards’ and ‘ideals’ were merely macho abstractions meant to sustain the hegemonic, dominant, oppressive, and marginalizing reign of patriarchy. As Baudrillard said it nicely: every ideal contains within itself the seeds of oppression.

Thus ‘character’ as an ‘ideal’ has to go because it may well oppress. It will oppress you personally because now you will try to repress and deform your naturally gooooood self and all its natural impulses (Rousseau) in order to conform to the demands of this ‘ideal’ called ‘character’ which has been imposed on you by the patriarchy or the dominant-cultural powers simply to ruin your day (Boomers) or keep you subordinated to the status-quo (Marx and derivative revolutionaries). And if you try to impart those ideals to others, then you are oppressing them.

Just “getcha sef freeeee” (Simon & Garfunkel) and all will be well and the whole culture will gambol (Boomers) or march (cultural revolutionaries) into the eternal summer of love on a Frisco beach (Boomers) or into the brave new world of Correct thought and behavior (cultural revolutionaries).

In any case, everybody would be liberated from everything, except for the scripted oppressors, who would be ‘devalorized’ and kicked to the curb. Along with all their pomps and all their works. Which would include Character.

Does Character limit or boundary natural human impulses? Yes. Does it thus Shape a human being as an individual and as a social participant? Yes. But Boundaries and Shapes also Ground humans, giving them a solid keel thrust down into the deep to keep the vessel ‘on an even keel’ so that it doesn’t simply a) bounce along on the surface of whatever waves come along or b) blow itself right over as the sails’ motive power – unopposed by the staying-power of the keel – push the vessel to its destruction.

But no.

Kids and revolutionaries aren’t really into Boundaries and Grounds and Shapes and Limits. That’s just grown-up stuff (which, one would have thought, was what sustaining a culture and a nation- and its economic vitality and moral integrity – was precisely all about).

The military in all of this offers an interesting forum for observation and judgment.

The world of the military is in some very real ways Life writ small: there is a very palpable responsibility (to effectively wield lethal force) which cannot be ‘spun’ away; this abiding and ever-present responsibility creates a powerful and tight focus on running your life – as an individual and as a member of a common project – in such a way that you will always be capable of fulfilling that responsibility.

This creates a necessary Shape and Ground to a military life. And keeping that Shape and staying rooted in that Ground generates a necessary way-of-living, of conducting yourself and of shaping and grounding your personal life so that your own individual ‘vessel’ or ‘vehicle’ is always ready to fulfill the over-arching responsibility. * That necessary way-of-living and way-of-being constitutes a ‘discipline’ (askesis, in the Greek), a deliberately embraced ‘Way’ that keeps you always on the path to fulfillment of both your responsibility and your own genuine best human Self. And if everybody is doing that, then you have a remarkably fulfilling common culture as well as an individual Character.

It’s quite a Vision.

But it had to go.

At least, according to the summery urge-rattled Boomers and the gimlet-eyed revolutionaries of the late 1960s, soon embraced by the Dems and then the entire Beltway as the fresh, rich, transgressive, new demographic masters and – I’ll say it – mistresses of the New Order and of the Brave New World.

One thinks – and should have thought back then – of Mussolini’s shimmering new Fleet: bright-painted, newly-constructed, and numerous. It gave the Royal Navy – in its hulking gray, storm-battered vessels – quite a scare: so many ships, so new and shiny and fast, and not bad at gunnery either.

But of course, the sailors of those shiny new ships referred to their vessels as “the cardboard fleet”:  protective armor and heavy structuring steel had been somewhat sacrificed for speed and if you fired all the big guns in broadside simultaneously, you ran some risk of blowing yourself over. And they had no radar.

So if the waves got really big, or it got dark or cloudy … well, that was a problem. Best to go out on sunny days and calm seas. Why risk getting all snarled up in the occasional storm or darkness?

You can imagine the type of military efficiency and effectiveness such a plan of (in-)action would yield. And yet, given the fundamental weaknesses of the primary components (the ships, the crews that had no confidence in their or their ships’ capabilities), going forth the meet the Royal Navy wasn’t going to lead to a successful outcome either.

There were no good options left to them.

Now, as We approach the Fourth of July, in the Year of Grace Two-Thousand-Twelve and of the independence of the United States the Two-Hundred-and-Thirty-Sixth, comes Our own Navy … with a self-admitted ‘character’ problem.

There have been alarmingly large numbers of Navy commanding-officers relieved of command and Senior NCOs relieved of duty because of “personal misconduct” (adultery, fraternization, and fraud are specifically mentioned).

Perhaps, the brass are thinking, the “screening process” might be tightened up, or “with a little more training” then “they might have made better choices that might not have cost them their careers”.

Although you would have to read the Memos almost daily to avoid running afoul of the ever-expanding list of Correctnesses that must be embraced, and must be embraced with a straight face and, indeed, a cheerible can-do Aye-Aye. For more often than anyone would care to think, officers and senior NCOs have found themselves praying the prayer of Klink and Schultz: Whaaaaaat ammmm I sayyyyyink?

And today’s ‘standard’ might be tomorrow’s ‘oppression’ and the ‘devalorization’ of that standard the glorious ‘reform’; and the usual constitutional protections against Ex Post Facto don’t count in matters of promotion and career: if word gets around that you once raised your eyebrow or shook your head, it’s the Desk-Job without prospect of further promotion or some bit of an assignment wherever the Russian Front might be that month.

Is it brought to your attention that the weight-room on your ship is offensive to females because it reinforces macho-ness among the males in the crew? You had better never be seen even shaking your head in disbelief or bemusement. You had better never be heard trying to explain the reasons for this offensive practice of physical work-out.. Or if you are informed - and by superior authority - that the stand-up urinals create an 'unfriendly work environment' because it reminds everybody that there is a difference between males and females (I kid you not) ... you had better keep a straight face. And if you have the temerity to put your thoughts in writing in an official communication, then you have signed your own career’s death-warrant. It's all reminiscent of the defunct Soviet Navy, where the Party's political-agenda overrides the military mission.

And in matters of ‘sex’, where the list of ‘discriminatory’ practices or attitudes grows only a shade faster than the list of prosecutable military-law sex-offenses … you had best pay more attention to Moscow than to any ‘standards’, comrade commander. Your first task is not some distracting concern for ‘operational efficiency’ (which is merely a cover for the fuddy-duddy and un-Correct stubborn counter-revolutionary commitment to “your grandfather’s Navy”) but rather your first task is to the establishment of the New Order. Da! Ja! Yah.

After all, the U.S. is the undisputed world-hegemon (so the Beltway thinking went in the 1990s) so We can afford to forget ‘operational efficiency’ and focus attention on the demands of the Correct New Order.

So far, the Navy has not been put to the frightful tests confronting the Army and the Marines, confronting the awesome and awe-full Ares Ferox et Atrox on his own ground, the un-spinnable and brutally real test of Combat and Battle.

But now the Navy – as if by inadvertence – notes that it seems to have a problem with “moral failures”.

And – as is now Standard Operating Procedure in the New Order – a pandemonium of “experts” are going to be engaged, at whatever expense, to “address” the problem.

So then, first of all there will be a daylong workshop on “character and integrity” which all officers and sailors of the Naval air arm will have to attend. This might seem to be progress: for quite some time “character and integrity” were ‘devalorized’ as merely being pretexts for opposing the New Order. The Navy has too many standards and not enough women! – as the mantra went back in the day, twenty years ago.

This marvelous new program will be inflicted upon Naval Air first, because – perhaps – it was there that the slyly-constructed Tailhook brouhaha was first deployed, twenty and more years ago. It will then perhaps be expanded to the entire Service. But the retired admiral (nicely named Tallent) who is going to (be paid to) put the new program into operation got his start in Naval Air, so maybe it’s just a matter of convenience.

And next year, new screening-procedures for selecting commanding officers will be put in place. Although – you may rest assured – “character” and “integrity” still had better not have been demonstrated by opposing or not fully ‘getting on board with’ whatever whackeries the New Order imposes.

To imagine that it is precisely the forced acceptance of those whackeries that have deranged and derailed “character and integrity” in the first place would, no doubt, be ‘thinking too much’.

And your fitness for command will now include taking into account “subordinates’ opinions”; so that anybody who feels that you were not sufficiently ‘on board with’ the New Order (and his/her demands) can write-in a telling indictment that may well quash your further promotion and your career. 

All so charmingly Soviet.  It worked so well for them, didn’t it?

Marvelously, the Navy says that “neither step is a direct response to a recent spike in dismissals among commanding officers, deputy commanding officers, and top enlisted sailors”. But of course. Though the “spike” isn’t so “recent” and incompetent (but Correct) commanding officers have wrecked valuable major warships and damaged others, to say nothing of lesser frakkeries that included a well-connected female Captain throwing pottery at subordinate officers on the bridge of her major warship, and throwing a screaming hissy-fit on the bridge when a subaltern had the temerity to point out that her last engine-order would cause the ship to damage itself in a shallow channel (which it proceeded, to nobody’s surprise except the Captain’s, to do – at huge cost in fundamental repairs).

There has been a doubling of relief-from-command incidents, though, in just the Year of Grace Two-Thousand-Eleven and of the New Order the Twentieth (more or less).

Much of this can be attributed to Naval Academy and Naval education’s Correct ‘devalorizing’ of such putative skills as handling a ship, in favor of a ‘let’s just all get along’ approach that needs no standards about anything having to do with mechanical and technical stuff and combat-leadership, but rather has everything to do with enforcing the tenets of the Correct New Order.

But apparently a large chunk of these incidents now involve ‘unprofessional command climate’, ‘personal misconduct’, and ‘inappropriate personal behavior’, all ominously linked to the lifestyle and command-style requirements of the Correct New Order. Many of them involved “sexual relationships between male superiors and female subordinates” (it is axiomatic, but of course, that such things simply do not happen with female commanders, let alone among lesbian-inclined officers and enlisted).

Thus, We can see that “character and integrity issues” are really only about failure to make the New Order work as its proponents and their legislative enablers insist that it will work, if only everybody does everything Correctly.

If only, if only.

One solution might be to have gender-separate ships and units. But for some unfathomable reason,  that possibility isn’t and never has been even remotely discussable. Perhaps because such ships and units might all too quickly and clearly demonstrate the fundamental problems with the New Order’s basic premises; or perhaps because that would leave any lesbian-type misdeeds too vulnerable to exposure. Who knows? The Question – doncha know? - mustn’t be asked; it simply isn’t done.

But let’s not let all that get in the way of a spiffy major new Initiative.

After all, “incidents that stem from character and integrity issues have an adverse impact on our readiness as warfighters”, intoned a Vice-Admiral piously. Why, yes – yes they do. Although hopefully the Vice-Admiral doesn’t think that such a basic and ancient military truism reflects the cutting-edge of flag-level wisdom and insight.

But the secret info that does reside in senior-level military knowledge is that “character and integrity” have verrry speshull definitions in the New Order.

But rest assured that none of this will be the usual government or Pentagon boondoggle. There won’t be any “long lecture given with PowerPoint”; rather “it involves small groups discussing dozens of … case studies that are based on real instances in which sailors and officers made bad personal choices that ended their careers”.

Sort of a consciousness-raising session (shades of the 60s and 70s!), no doubt run by cadres of Correctness (who will also be taking names, if you get my drift). Sort of a Maoist indoctrination session with a happy-face.

And you can imagine what the carefully vetted ‘case studies’ will be and what you should and should not glean from them.

The cases will cover a gamut running from “inappropriate relationships” and “alcohol abuse” all the way over to “cheating on tests”, “wrongful use of government equipment” and “various forms of fraud such as lying to boost a housing allowance or a travel expense claim”.

The embarrassingly prevalent sex stuff is hidden in the simple portmanteau phrase “inappropriate relationships” (always the fault of the superior and/or male); the rest of it reveals an apparently widespread and pervasive, if garden-variety, disregard for what used to be covered by the standards and ideals of ‘officers and gentlemen’ and the tradition of the Naval Service – but those were ‘struck below’ quite some time ago, to clear the decks for the axioms and mantras of Correctness.

Nor is it evident that the Navy realizes what a bad example the highest-echelons of the Service have set for several professional generations now, as senior admirals went-along-with all the lethal claptrap in order to preserve their position now and in the post-retirement afterlife. Nor what a bad example the Beltway has set and continues to set.

The retired rear-admiral, the aforesaid Tallent, admits that he’s not quite happy with the ‘character and integrity’ moniker given to the workshops; since, he observes as if the insight is worth all the money he’s being paid, you can’t teach character to someone in a day.

No, you can’t.

You need a family and parents who will get to work on this task from the beginning of their child’s life (having already achieved some level of character in their own lives); you need a culture and society that supports them and demonstrates to the growing child the value and need of character; you most probably need some type of genuine religious experiences to help Ground the whole project, since the surface dimensions of this-world do not often easily support such a foundation.

And all that is before you get the kid into the Service. Where there must be an even more focused development of the foundational character-skills already well-laid down. You can no more start building character in the course of military operations than you can lay down the keel and build a ship when you’re already at sea.

So Tallent is going for some modest repair work. But of a very limited and rather familiar kind: you can teach people to ‘self-confront’ over their tendencies – not so far removed from the old handbooks for Maoist cadres. Or perhaps a good ‘command climate’ will include the running of required daily or weekly group-sessions where individuals can be accused or can self-accuse at the hands of everybody else. Though perhaps, as per any Correctness regime, any such confessions or recounting of “past mistakes” may be taken down in evidence or quietly kept for future reference and use.

Waxing theological (reflecting with an ineluctable irony just how much Correctness springs from a secular religion of the this-worldly), Tallent divines that of course not “everyone can be saved”. Yea, verily. And given the lethal structural deconstruction of the general culture as well as of the military culture for the past two decades, the numbers of the irretrievably lost are now far more astronomical than they need have been … or would otherwise have been.

It’s a wonder they aren’t all just written off as the eggs necessary to break in order to make the Great Omlette. But neither the Navy nor the Pentagon nor the Beltway really want to admit how many such broken eggs now dot the floor of the national Kitchen.

And Tallent will try to put them back together again. Or at least, as many Humpty-Dumpty’s as might be managed in a series of day-long workshops and a fresh wave of Correct impositions.

Good enough for government work, as the cheerible old cynical saying used to go.

Tallent ventures close to the edge of the Abyss: “It starts by having deeper, more honest conversation about these things than we’ve been having in the past”. You always run a great professional risk when you start to suggest that Washington (or Moscow or Berlin, back in their day) has been screwing things up but now you’re here to fix it and make it all better.

But Tallent is safe enough: he’s already retired with his rank and status and pay, and the current boss-brass know that he’ll make sure that such ‘depth’ and ‘honesty’ don’t get out of hand or stray off the Correct course. He’s – as the Brits would tactfully put it – “a safe pair of hands”; and the natives won’t be allowed to get out of hand on his watch.

An ethics professor at a Virginia university cautiously agrees (you don’t want to work in Virginia and be on record as disagreeing with the Beltway and the Pentagon): it “makes sense, at least in theory” and he thinks “it could make a difference”. This man knows how to say nothing while producing the desired blurb.

But – and the article nicely gives it solid play – a retired Captain with the command of three cruisers under his belt, notes that the new scheme of ‘subordinate reviews’ (sort of like students rating their teachers) “will do more harm than good” since the popular commanders will get great ratings (perhaps to offset their less-than-stellar combat and ship-handling qualities) while the less-popular but more competent officers will get slammed.

The Navy needs to make up its mind – says this retired Captain – whether it wants hard-edged competent war-fighters or “gentle, idealized characters who treat everybody nicely”.

I’d say it doesn’t quite have to be so cut-and-dried: you can be competent without being a raving ogre, although no amount of niceness will compensate for competence when trouble and challenge rear their heads.

Nor do you need a wartime situation to encounter that at sea. Even in peacetime, a warship is a whole lot of explodable and flammable stuff crammed into a very small space, and things can go very wrong on a perfectly nice calm day. Or night.  

Let alone in storms or worse weather-events.  Nor are such events susceptible to Correct impositions and regulation.

So the retired Captain thinks the whole plan is unnecessary. I wouldn’t say that: I’d say that it’s way too little, way too late.

And I’d base that in part on the assumption that the Navy has already decided what it wants: the Correct, happy-face, feel-good type. Because you don’t have to ‘master’ all those old macho, industrial-age, patriarchal skills of “your grandfather’s Navy”; you can be perfectly Correct and still reach high-command.

(Who at this point can fail to recall Gilbert & Sullivan’s Admiral: “he thought so little, they rewarded hee / by making him the ruler of the Queen’s nay-veee”? Make the appropriate adjustments for gender and diversity and richness and transgressiveness and so on and so forth, and you have the Navy’s chosen vision nowadays.)

After all – as the thinking went in 1991 – the Soviets were gone, there wouldn’t be any further need for that macho industrial-age naval combat like you saw in ‘Victory At Sea’, and anyway there were computers now that would take care of all the sailing and fighting. Wheeeeeee!

So worrying about ‘combat efficiency’ and ‘leadership’ was simply a mask for being counter-revolutionary and a backlasher.

And so the Navy (along with the other Services) was really just a differently-costumed opportunity for government employment and benefits. Think: Microsoft with a stricter dress code.

But another retired senior officer, a vice-admiral, now head of the prestigious U.S. Naval Institute, disagrees with the retired Captain. Because, says the retired vice-admiral, the Navy will use the new procedures "correctly" (small ‘c’ – but you see the Freudian slip here): the example of others’ past mistakes will be used to prevent future mistakes. Thus this recent unhappy “spike” of serious troubles and firings can be stopped.

But the retired Captain won’t back off: “the most important question to ask … is what caused the spike of firings in the first place”. (You can see why this well-tested officer never made admiral-rank: he thinks wayyyy too much and thus is not “a safe pair of hands”.)

And yet then they both agree on one cause: “the addition of women to ships”. So there it is.

With that one addition, I would say, you get simultaneously an astronomical increase in the possibilities of the sex-offense and Gender War soap operas becoming the prime programs occupying the attention of the Service, while simultaneously requiring the ‘devalorization’ of all the old macho virtues – war-fighting competence, combat leadership, mastery of vast quantities of technical lore and usages, relentless focus on preparation for the brutal and lethal realities of Naval operations and combat – and all those obstructive  ‘standards’ that have a nasty tendency to rule out the best cards ‘women’ bring to the table.

(Again, this might well be addressed by single-gender ships, but – again – that possibility has always been off the table.)

In light of the problems I suggested above, the assertion that overall this “addition” has “benefitted the Navy” is not credible and reflects, rather, the still-entrenched Beltway death-grip on the so-called ‘women’s demographic’. Instead, the Navy brass have committed the Service and all its souls to chasing Congressperson Ahab's Great White Whale, the common cup drunk, the Coin nailed to the mast.**

In the beginning – it is now asserted – a “healthy fear” of the women kept the males and females properly apart, but now the ‘success’ of their presence has resulted in a familiarity that leads to “zipper failures” at an increasing rate.

And yet as early as the first Gulf War, before the Tailhook brouhaha, such naval support vessels as had been integrated at that time, enroute to that combat mission, suffered pregnancy rates so high that the local commanders were ordered not to keep specific records.  Nor could they request replacements for the now-pregnant crew: that would provide official evidence that gender-integration was – at the very least – going to be a hugely fraught (if not ultimately impossible) gambit.

So the commanders a) had to make do by making the remaining crew take up the slack and b) had to accept command-responsibility for somehow preventing sexual encounters. If there was sexual activity, it was not the fault of the two participants but rather it was the fault of the commanding-officer who clearly had permitted a faulty ‘command climate’. The Beltway, like King Canute, would order the tides, and – more directly – would order its ship commanders to actually get that job done.

Be that as it may. The tides keep coming.

Pulling a punch with almost satirical obviousness, the retired Captain observes that all the sex was “the natural, inevitable, yet inexplicably unforeseen effect of stocking units with young, healthy men and women and putting them in isolation and under pressure”. [italics mine]

It was foreseen, but it was not allowed to be officially recognized. Too many powerful political advocacies had a heavy stake in propounding the illusion that you could do all the gender-mixing and not have a sexual-activity problem.

And as the ‘deconstruction’ of moral and ‘character’ standards proceeded rapidly in civilian life, then the incoming generations of recruits were increasingly less schooled in the mastery of sexual urges and impulses. Indeed, especially for young women, sexual activity ‘like a guy’ was an almost required badge of liberation. Thus the overall incoherences of national policies which Naval officers were then required to accept with a straight-face and a can-do Aye-Aye – and not ask any questions or ‘get philosophical’ about it all.




One truly prodigious howler of an incoherence: in military sex-offense law, a woman who has had just one drink is incapable of consenting to any sexual contact whatsoever – and yet these same profoundly fragile and limited creatures are to be considered as perfectly reliable shipmates and capable of major command responsibility. Simultaneously super-victim and super-competent. To which the only career-preserving response is somewhere along the spectrum from keeping a verrry straight face to drinking the Kool-Aid and making your competent crew drink the Kool-Aid and hoping that God will be around to fill in the blanks when the time of fiery trial arises.

According to the article, the best anybody can think to do at this point is to avoid punishing all infractions and deploy punishment only in really serious cases. Although in matters of sex-abuse, according to the still-connected advocacies, all sex-abuse – and it is verrrrry widely and broadly defined in the military – is ‘horrific’ and ‘traumatic’ and so on. So another incoherence pops up here immediately.

“The Navy has to find that balance” blurbs the retired vice-admiral hopefully.

You can’t balance an incoherence. You can only tackle the fundamental incompatibility head-on and make the hard choices about your priorities and then do what has to be done to conform to those priorities.

There is little chance of that happening in the near future. The radical and fundamental incompatibility between a)  the radical-feminist agenda and b) the Navy’s (and all the Services’) responsibilities to wield lethal force effectively and successfully in the national interest  cannot be wished or spun away, nor can it be reconciled.

The Navy will continue, as the nation must continue, going down a fast-flowing river with each leg balanced on a different ice-floe. That’s more of a balancing act than any leadership can achieve or sustain for long.

So have a thoughtful and deliberative 4th! And don't drink the Kool-Aid.

NOTES

*Let’s just observe in passing that this approach to life conforms rather nicely to the Classical and especially the classical Christian vision of what it means to be a human-being. In the latter case: you are created in the Image of God; which generates a responsibility as an individual and as a member of the human community to always work toward being capable of fulfilling that Image (and thus fulfilling your genuine (echt, in the German) self).




**Rumors are strong that the Marine Corps will now come to heel, opening up the Infantry Officer Course – one of its most grueling (and necessary, if you’re going to be leading troops in combat) – is now going to be opened to ‘women’. There go the standards. Because the rules of this Game are as follows: a) standards cannot be enforced if they make women look bad; b) this ‘milestone’ is so important that Allwomen cannot be made to look incapable even if Thiswoman is; c) standards are oppressive and hegemonic anyway; d) ground combat is a thing of the past and it’s really about job and promotion opportunities.

And given the current SpecOps and drone crazes, the Marines – whose salad days in the Pacific are almost unremembered as the Greatest Generation passes into history – will need all the Beltway goodwill they can muster in order to keep funding. And if that means …

Also, don’t look for hard-hitting investigative and exposure-type journalism into this the way you would see with the ‘military culture of rape’; you will get nothing but glowing encomia and feel-good puff pieces about all the ‘success’ of the program.
ADDENDUM

While writing this, the television next to my desk was showing 2003’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It is precisely this culture of standards and character, sustained in the face of awesomely challenging weathers and combats, lasting well into the 20th century, that was ‘devalorized’ over the past twenty or so years. It will have to be recovered, if there are enough of its practitioners left to re-instill it. And if not, not.




ADDENDUM 2

I would add the following.

There was – in the time before The Present Situation – a strong emphasis in the Service Academies on rules, stringent requirements stringently enforced. And those rules reached down to such day-to-day matters as being on-time for scheduled events (to use an example).

There was a purpose to this: war or military emergencies (the plane develops a problem while airborne; the ship develops a serious problem on an otherwise fine peacetime day at sea) present immediate and unavoidable challenges – ‘facts’ if you wish – that must be dealt with immediately and effectively.

To achieve this, command personnel have to be deeply habitualized to handling that type of situation with the right – and only – useful frame of mind and heart: control your emotions, actively get all the facts however unpleasant or ominous they may be, and keep your head as you evolve a plan of action to deal with the problem.

Such self-possession does not come easily.

It had been one of the primary and most fundamental objectives of the Service Academies to instill that habitual self-possession, as a vital personal ‘platform’ or foundation upon which all the special technical skills and know-how specific to that Service would then be built.

And since the Service Academy couldn’t simply create actual war-conditions or full-blown actual military emergencies, then they had to somehow develop a regimen of regulations and enforcement to create a usable simulacrum of a vital and unavoidable challenge. Thus the demerit-system whereby the cadet was continually required to perform a mental calculus as to whether and how much a possible course of action might cost him and/or his mates in the unit.

Thus too such stringent requirements as being severely punished if – even through no fault of one’s own – one was late for a significant event. Such as reporting back after leave: an ice storm in winter or a blockage delay on the highway, let alone a missed flight or train connection … you stood to get some significant ‘restriction’ or other ‘award’.

This, to the civilian mind, is being far too ‘strict’ – which most likely in civilian life it would be. But the Service Academies were not there to prepare you for immediate post-graduate entrance into civilian life. Rather, you were going to be a military officer with the responsibility of wielding lethal force, if so ordered, effectively and also of commanding others in that same mission.

The aspiring-officer had to learn to so structure his life and his thought that he would continually be performing the vital calculus as to costs-and-consequences of any possible action he might take, and learning as well to accept responsibility for outcomes even if failures were not directly attributable to him. (So, for example: did you want to go home on leave through a complex web of plane or train connections in wintertime or a holiday period? You should have considered the hardly improbable possibility that you could not control all the elements that might prevent your reporting back on time.)

But with the dawn of the Beltway’s infatuation with (and politically calculated embrace of) the Boomery worldview, things started to go seriously awry. The laid-back element of Boomerism didn’t like a lot of ‘regulations’ which – in marvelous kiddie fashion – were seen to be merely unnecessary obstructions to one’s enjoying a more fulfilling (read: enjoyable) life.

And the ‘revolutionary’ elements of Boomerism – spearheaded in this country by radical-feminism – saw all such regulations (and ‘standards’) as merely oppressive constructs devised to exercise and sustain the inevitable Patriarchal Hegemony.

So the regulations had to go. And of course the ‘standards’.

You couldn’t ‘Boomerize’ the Services without profoundly weakening their essential function and mission.

Nor could you ‘feminize’ them – as the term came to be deployed by the radical-feminist Advocacy and its political enablers – without also ‘civilianizing’ them.

And so to the long-standing fundamental dissimilarity between ‘civilian’ life and military life there was added the now-familiar un-bridgeable abyss between patriarchal-military and feministical-civilian.

But that was OK – it was blithely asserted – because especially after the fall of the USSR there would be no more need for a ‘military’ approach to life (so macho in its emphases on self-control, self-mastery, self-possession, and hard competence in hard matters in order to face hard and immediate challenges).

Thus the Service Academies have become ‘campuses’ – much like Microsoft calls its major institutional concentrations ‘campuses’. The military life as Microsoft with a stricter dress code.

And of course, since the Academies had been carefully calibrated to inculcate precisely those values – as best could be achieved – then the ‘standards’ vital to those values had to go.

And they were tossed away.

Although – as noted – upon the authority of those blithe but loudly-screeched accusations that they were merely pretexts for institutional misogyny and patriarchy. And anyway, the Services should forthwith and henceforth be seen as ‘employment opportunities’ and as ‘rights-arenas’ where the only necessary objective was to make sure that feminization (defined and shaped according to the radical-feminist playbook and game-plan) replaced everything that had gone before. ‘This is not your grandfather’s (name of Service)!’ became an in-your-face standard mantra that was supposed to be the trumpy comeback to any fuddy-duddy doubters, all those Archie Bunkers in uniform trying to keep ‘women’ from getting their slice of the purported pie.

And, by the most amazing coincidence, all the Academies now have ‘character’ problems and all of the Services seem to have a problem getting their missions accomplished.

Not a prahblum! The drones will do the fighting and the computers will run the aircraft and the warships.

Yah.

Meanwhile, on another sound-stage on the same movie lot and run by the same film company, the Beltway had run through and run down the national Treasure and Substance, almost guaranteeing that the new Age of Go-Out-and-Grab other peoples’ stuff was going to create numerous ‘contested sites’ around the entire planet requiring not only effective military operations but also a world-wide reputation for military competence (so that any potential adversary or rival would think twice about getting in the way in the first place).

The ponderous imponderables of International Affairs and War. But they were hardly un-recognized. They were simply ignored.

And now the turkeys are coming home to roost.



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