Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Founders and Standing Armies

The American Conservative's Justin Logan reminds us that "it is worth remembering just how much the American Founders detested the signs of a bloated state: standing armies, a large fiscal-military federation, and a capacious national bureaucracy" — An Empire, If You Can Keep It. He continues:
    It may be going too far to say that today’s conservatives would denounce the Founding Fathers as unpatriotic conservatives—but not much too far. While members of the Right now flutter like schoolgirls at the mention of military leaders like Gen. David Petraeus, the Founders scorned the prospect of military leaders becoming figures of worshipful esteem. As the historian Arthur Ekirch has highlighted, aversion to standing armies and centralism was at the heart of the American founding.
Tolle, lege. His grim conclusion: "Maybe our ultimate destiny was to become what we revolted against in the first place."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the day, putting together an army meant going out to the boonies, finding outdoorsmen and hunters, and putting them into new clothes and putting a musket into their hands.

Today it takes 12 years to get a new army grouping functioning at a reasonably acceptable level.

6:04 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I like the Swiss approach: give everyone basic training and an assault rifle to keep at home.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very good point, but not a perfect analogy.

Don't forget that the Swiss have tanks, an air force, and the like, which are run by full-time soldiers. It's also a tiny country that can mobilize in a day, and has informal understandings with its better-armed neighbors.

What they did get right though, was to insist that the upper class furnish the officer corps; that and the draft kept wasteful spending to a minimum.

9:23 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Anonymous writes :
"What they did get right though" Also:

"It's also a tiny country"


As a rule I could not care less what the Founders thought, and find it rather silly how "members of the Right now flutter like schoolgirls at the mention of" the Founders using them as arguments from authority.

The article is a subject on which the author can't loose, but which he does his best to make the arguments, (i.e. that centralism and standing armies are an evil), look their worst by citing Founder authority, anecdotes, and a historical timeline as if all of those prove his argument when none of them do.

The article does a good job of compacting a lot of information into a small space, and does it at a nice pace. It's rather disappointing the author didn't put the same effort into his argument.

The first principle of oped writing is make one simple argument, answering all the objections and get out.

But then again, when an articles starts of by insulting part of the readership which isn't already in agreement, it probably doesn't matter after that if the objections are answered.

10:13 PM  

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