General Colin Powell stood before the media in the buildup to Desert Storm in his role as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and reminded us what soldiers do. “Soldiers,” he said, “are trained to kill people and break things.”
The entire air defense system of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was broken within hours by our air campaign. It was more difficult to kill people since the vaunted Republican Guard Army was stumbling over each other surrendering. Some soldiers even surrendered to a television crew.
One wonders how those who are trained to kill are going to apply their training in Liberia or Guinea or Sierra Leone with Ebola sufferers where they have just been ordered by the commander in chief. One wonders how many of them will ignore the danger and go full speed ahead against a stealthy pathogen with a singular talent: To kill you and your friends and neighbors before you can kill it.
One wonders how senseless it is to direct the one obedient segment of our government to undertake a challenge they are absolutely unequipped to undertake just because they carry out the mission they are given.
And by the way, in their spare time they will build a battle plan to take on God and his plans for the planet! What will they break and whom will they kill in the war on climate change?
There have been, for some time now, many efforts to redirect the mission of the military because another part of our bureaucracy was failing.
It took Army troops to bring order to the chaos in New Orleans after Katrina. The mayor had left town. The police force was leaderless and in some cases participating in the looting. The Federal Emergency Management Agency failed. It was just easier to send in a disciplined team and it worked.
But how long will we continue to direct the military to solve other than military problems? It is not as though they have nothing else to do.
During the last two decades there has been a constant friction between those who want a nation with borders and those who eschew them. The two sides have agreed on one thing – appropriating more money for border security. The money increase occurs and nothing changes.
On nearly every bill there is a vote on an amendment to put troops on the border. I routinely opposed those amendments believing that the troops have a bigger role elsewhere in a challenge for which they are uniquely trained. Let’s save them for that work.
All of these efforts fall neatly into the category of “acting decisively.” If the results fail to match up with the hoped for outcomes who cares? We acted and it really feels good!
There is not a single replicable scientific study that proves that the activity of humans contributes to dangerous warming of the planet. Nor is it agreed that a warming planet is a bad thing. (For those angered by those statements, please send me the study and we will debate it. Do not send me a computer model. Not one of those has been accurate over the last 25 years. Don’t send me proxy studies. Send me an empirical observational study and we’re in business.)
We are told that there is a consensus on human caused Global Warming and it must be addressed. Since consensus is a word used to define political discussions, let’s just admit that this issue is political and not scientific.
In the face of those questions we have decided that politics rules and since the military follows orders they have been instructed to advance political ideology too.
We have navy ships that use “green” fuel. It increases our costs by a factor of about 8, but hey – we are acting!
The CIA is conducting studies into human contribution to global warming and the national security risks of a warmer planet.
And now we have Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel instructing our war planners to plan for climate change. Let the killing and breaking begin!
Do we want the military to handle our obesity problem too? Shall they start with school lunches?
We have singular challenges in a large part of the world, including now Canada, with the ruthlessness of a violent strain of Islam. This is not the first time we have seen this dynamic during the last 14 centuries. In every other time the murderous rampage was only stopped when national militaries confronted and killed them.
Let’s leave the Ebola efforts to those with medical training and reserve our soldiers for what they are trained to do: Killing people and breaking things!
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