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Wanted: A Few Good Leaders - By Paul V. Kane | Foreign Policy

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Looking back at a decade of war -- with $3 trillion spent pursuing victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, millions of our citizens plucked from home for combat deployments, and more than 50,000 of our brethren wounded or killed in action -- Americans need to ask themselves a single blunt question: Are our current military and civilian leaders fit to lead us in the next war?








There's a reason our national experience since 9/11 has been mixed with confusion, pride, trying developments, ruinous expense, and fleeting successes. We have lots of leaders but a national deficit in true leadership. Two trends have brought us to this crisis.

First, the vast majority of our current leaders have only a theoretical, intellectual, and abstract knowledge of the military and war -- not an experiential, visceral, and personal understanding. The proportion of our key decision-makers who have served in the military and have personal experience with defense is in steady decline.

Before 1993, nearly every modern president had served on active duty in uniform, most in wartime, and a few were war heroes. At one point, 77 percent of Congress were veterans. Come 2013, veterans will make up a mere 19 percent of Congress -- and many among this 19 percent have "military service" in their record purely because they sought to avoid the draft and Vietnam combat; they volunteered between 1966 and 1975 for what was then safe, part-time service at home in the National Guard or Reserve.

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