Some while ago, in the Washington Post, Walter Pincus, an expert on the American military and a prominent critic, raised once again the scandal of the long-standing division of command in the military, something even Eisenhower couldn’t overcome. The rivalry between the three arms of the military is such that they constantly duplicate each other’s efforts. If one gets a fancy new plane the others want something similar (but bigger and faster). This costs the taxpayer untold amounts of money. Each arm of the services its own elaborate management and intelligence arms. And yet no one will point out the great untold story: these armchair generals are lousy at winning wars! Aside from the first Gulf War, can you remember a case where the US actually won a war? Certainly not Iraq or Afghanistan. But if you say so you are in danger of being considered unpatriotic. Unpatriotic? Actually, patriotism is ensuring that you have good soldiers, sailors and airmen capable of strategic and tactical thought, fast on their feet and original of mind, not bureaucrats waiting for buggin’s turn. Patriotism is about doing the job and at a reasonable cost. And now Trump wants to increase the military budget?
Epicurus seems to have despised both politicians and the military, such as it was. He lived at a time of constant war and was disillusioned with the uselessness of it and the incompetence of military types. The awe and respect afforded to top generals in the US, despite their collective track record, is remarkable. Perhaps it’s because most civilian leaders are even less worthy of respect. But one day the public will wake up to what a huge waste of money and resources the overfunded military really is.