Gates spoke directly of an avoided undemocratic reality — that most Americans have grown detached from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the great civilian majority has come to view military service as "something for other people to do."Then Shields quotes my father:
Those "other people," as Gates reminded us, come overwhelmingly from a "tiny sliver of America" concentrated in the South and the Rocky Mountain West, in rural areas and small towns.
There is the distinct possibility that eventually the U.S. military and its leaders will be estranged — culturally and geographically — from the civilian population it is defending.
Nobody understood this as well as the late military scholar and ex-GI, Charles Moskos, who told me that the U.S. "national interest is determined not so much by the cause, itself, but instead by who is willing to die for that cause."
Moskos continued: "Only when the privileged do military service, only when the elite youth are under fire does the nation define the cause as worth the blood of our young people." He added that, in both World Wars, the British nobility had higher casualty rates than did the British working class.