America's worst national security threat
Comes from within, and we should be very worried
Memorial Day had additional meaning this year for me. “The people of the United States,” began the final military order of my 25-year career, “express their thanks and gratitude for your faithful service.” At the end of May I retired after over 9,100 days in cammo, and as those last days passed by, my final uniformed thoughts are to warn my fellow citizens of a threat to America far worse and more real than Cold War’s “missile gap”—a trust gap, a national stomach cancer, eating America from within.
My basic training began in the summer of 1998, before Al Qaeda attacked America’s embassies in Africa, when the military’s top officer repeatedly said he preferred overwhelming force and didn’t believe in “fair fights.” That simpler time changed while I was still at West Point. 9/11 came during our senior year, and President George W. Bush’s “doctrine of preemption” speech at our graduation sent us to war. My classmates and I spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We might have known then that short wars of necessity bring Americans together. Long wars of choice divide Americans just as much.
What we could only see now, after years of hindsight, is that even the military’s place in society can change. Loved-by-all after the Second World War, despised-by-some after Vietnam, it felt in the late-1990s that our military would always hold a privileged place in society.