How the Left Can Win the Military, and Save America’s Soul

| April 10, 2012 | 37 Comments

Some dillwad who claims he was a Marine for 5 years by the name of Lyle Jeremy Rubin also claims he has the key to the Left winning over the troops as they make their way through life after they take off their uniform for the last time. “How the Left Can Win the Military, and Save America’s Soul” is the title of his post in Dissent Magazine. Of course, his whole plan boils down to two words “fool them”.

His whole plan is based on fallacies; that there’s strong support among the troops for Ron Paul, that they don’t support the war against terror, that Smedley Butler is their hero, and that the troops will be enticed into the Left’s Disney World of “a more equitable society after capitalism”.

For his first point, I guess he didn’t see the five hundred actual veterans who showed up for the Veterans For Ron Paul rally in DC. Yeah, they came from across America in the tens to support their candidate.

The problem with trying to make the point of the troops not supporting the war against terrorists is that there is no draft. Each and everyone of them volunteered and they still reenlist in droves despite the fact that they’re almost guaranteed a tour in the war zone.

Smedley Butler is a proven idiot. His “book”, “War is a Racket” was a speech before it became several pages in a booklet. One of his recommendations to curb warfare was to let the soldiers vote in which wars they would allow the military to participate. If that doesn’t prove his idiocy, I don’t know what can possibly persuade you. You can read the whole thing, if you can spare 5 minutes at this link.

On the last point, the reason veterans are generally more conservative than the rest of America is that we’ve seen the government at it’s best, and we all know that we can do better on our own without the government handing us stuff. Our equipment was the best the government wanted to buy and it inevitably failed and it was up to the individual to make it serviceable, because we knew that the bureaucracy to get the equipment fixed was unnecessarily complex and never worked to our advantage.

The Left wants a more equitable society by making all of our decisions for us, veterans have lived in that world and found it lacking.

Rubin also claims that there are already veterans in the Occupy movement and the anti-war clubs who can tempt veterans over to their side. We’ve already seen the types of veterans who are attracted to “their” side. The pretend veterans and outright liars we’ve profiled on this very blog as they popped up. Veterans like Jay Polk, Christopher M. Simmance, and Scott Olson, both sides will be disappointed on the results.

Thanks to Daniel for the link.

Category: I hate hippies

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  1. Just Plain Jason says:

    Yeah, every time I hear Smedly Butler I think of snidely whiplash…

  2. SGT B says:

    Actually, Major General Smedley Butler is one of the heroes of the Marine Corps, having won the Medal of Honor twice in separate actions. For that, I honor him.
    While I wish that I could say that he was a saint and the perfect visage of a hero, he wasn’t, and while he is a hero in the Corps, he isn’t on par with SgtMaj. Dan Daly and Sgt. “Manila John” Basilone, and invoking his name would bring about a lukewarm (at best) reaction, given the tarnishing of Butler’s reputation after the 1934 “Business Plot”, and his post career pacifist slant.
    I think Mike Yawn took a page from his shark-jumping playbook.

  3. SGT B says:

    I think that Rubin has over estimated the reactions of most of the Vets. There are some misguided, and, frankly, disappointing examples of Vets, but I really do think that most Vets (unless they are actively involved with any of the higher profile Vet-Support programs), are quietly, but very closely keeping an eye on the entire political scene. When the time to act is reached, I am confident that the Left is in for a very nasty surprise.
    Keep your powder dry…

  4. Steadfast&Loyal says:

    I got to the part where you said he thinks he is the key to winning….

    and i stopped. Rubin is looking for a payday.

    For him Semper Fi extends only as far as his arm’s length

  5. DaveO says:

    Military saints tend to be social scalawags. J.F.C. Fuller, a prophet of modern warfare, was business partner and publisher of Alistair Crowley’s works.

    Jonn, you missed one point. You wrote: “On the last point, the reason veterans are generally more conservative than the rest of America is that we’ve seen the government at it’s best, and we all know that we can do better on our own without the government handing us stuff.”

    The point being we’ve also seen other countries, including allies with socialist governments and have seen weak, corrupt, inept, and outright farcical they are. Given Europe’s issues with ‘teenagers of unknown origin’ the Socialist Utopia that Rubin preaches is a fallacy.

    Boiled down plain and simple: What the Progressives and Rubin want has already been tried, many times over, and what didn’t kill tens of millions of human beings, left the left of the population so empoverished and starving that they escaped to America, where even flipping fries is a dream come true.

  6. Hondo says:

    Agreed, DaveO. I had the opportunity to visit former East Germany in May 1990 – about 6 mo after reunification. Going 20 km east from Fulda to Erfurt was like going back 45 years in time.

    Communism just doesn’t work. Period.

  7. El Coqui says:

    Isn’t curious that the only people that propose a communism system, have never live under one.

  8. Bah Bodenkurk says:

    “Our equipment was the best the government wanted to buy and it inevitably failed and it was up to the individual to make it serviceable, because we knew that the bureaucracy to get the equipment fixed was unnecessarily complex and never worked to our advantage.”

    I just wanted to repost this for emphasis. Any infantryman can tell you that you can fix about anything with enough 550 cord and 100 mph tape.

  9. Just Plain Jason says:

    Bah an Engineer can tell you how to stop anything with the same two things…

  10. xbradtc says:

    You’d think bright, young, idealistic, comparatively well educated people, with a demonstrated desire to improve the world and take action, not just speak slogans would be the happy hunting ground for progressive political recruiters.

  11. Marine 83 says:

    For what it’s worth according to MOL he is a Captain and currently in the IRR, and was a Comm O. Nuf said.

  12. LJR says:

    I just stumbled across this, and I figured I’d respond as the “diillwad” in question.

    1. I’m not a communist, and I probably wouldn’t call myself a socialist either. My favorite political/historical writer is actually Christopher Lasch, who was admired by many on the right, and for good reason: he shared a number of significant concerns with the right – like the paternalistic and all-encompassing nature of the state, for one. My major beef isn’t with capitalism, but BIG capitalism, or state capitalism, or whatever else you’d like to call it. I feel we’re at a point where the social/political “balance of powers” the founders, Adam Smith, and other classical liberals envisioned is long gone, that the rise of corporations complicates a lot of what the classical liberals (who I admire greatly) wrote about and advocated, and for anyone who genuinely cares about allowing as much opportunity and happiness to as many Americans as possible, the old-yarn communist versus capitalist debate no longer is very relevant. My own preference, as I state toward the end of the post, is for workplace democracy … that is: bottom-up, small-unit efforts on the part of workers (and even middle managers) to claim more say in the decision-making process of their businesses/companies, as well as more of a financial stake in those businesses/companies as well. For what it’s worth…
    2. I wasn’t a COMM-O, although I was a SIGINT officer, so maybe that’s just as bad. (Worse?) However, I was enlisted for a little bit beforehand, and I did see some combat in Afghanistan (I got the CAR; I don’t find that particularly noteworthy, but I’m guessing someone might ask down-thread, so I’m saying it now.) I’d be the last person to boast of any impressive combat experience, though, so if you’re one of those grunts who thinks anyone who isn’t as much of a grunt as you are shouldn’t be listened to… well, I got nothing in reply. You win.
    3. The Smedley Butler thing was mostly rhetorical. I don’t have a poster of him or anything up in my apartment, and I don’t pray to his name before shutting the eyelids. I was just making the point that there’s a long history of military folk questioning the power and consequences of the military-industrial complex, and that tradition ought to be continued. In fact, it was Ike himself who coined the term “military-industrial complex.” (For the libertarians out there, it was “military-congressional-industrial complex” in the original transcript, but the speechwriters cut off “congressional” since the phrase was too clunky.)
    4. I don’t expect to win over anyone on this site. But I thought it might be helpful to converse with you gentlemen on a level that transcends the ordinary back-and-forth Internet mudslinging, especially since most of us did put in some considerable time (amongst other things) for our country at one point or another (some more than others), and I have to imagine if we were sitting over beers after training, I might still be called a dillwad, but we probably wouldn’t consider each other sworn enemies either.
    5. As all these threads go, at some point I’m going have to throw in the towel and head off to bigger and better things, but I am willing to assume the hot seat for a little while if anyone is willing to engage.
    6. Thanks for hearing me out. (Or not?)

  13. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Lyle Jeremy Rubin; I won’t apologize for calling you a “dillwad”, in fact it was the nicest thing that I could think to describe you at the time. That first paragraph you wrote, kind of sealed your fate in that regard. You say you’re not a conservative, nor a socialist nor a communist. I’m sure that’s what many of the Russian Leftists said when they had their asses purged in the first months of Lenin’s revolution.

    My entire point was that what you propose is intellectually vacant. The only ass monkeys who are veterans and have been part of the anti-war and anti-capitalist groups are generally fakers, liars, pot heads and ne’er-do-wells. This blog was built on exposing them for what they are. None of us want to be included in their number.

    When I enlisted, I was a Democrat, I voted for Jimmy Carter and, when he began the first day of his last term by pardoning the draft dodgers, I began my transition to the Right. By the end of my first enlistment in 1978, I was registered in New York’s Conservative Party and by 1980 I was a Republican. It was my military experience that took me on that political journey. I’ve never known anyone who transitioned in the other direction.

    So you can toss around Smedley Butler’s name like you were the first guy to discover him, but I don’t know anyone who aspires to be like the civilian Smedley. And the current anti-war movement which produces the Ward Reillys, the Bill Perrys, the Adam Kokeshs, et al., really isn’t something that would attract the soldiers to the Left.

  14. LJR says:

    John Lilyea: I appreciate the prompt response, although it plays into my own point that many on the right (and the left) are unable or unwilling to look at individual issues or positions on their own merits. Everything gets subsumed into broad-brush soap opera narratives. (So suddenly I’m made to be a Trotskyite to some imminently rising Lenin!) The fact of the matter is, the majority of Americans (thank God) are not self-conscious “right-wingers” or “left-wingers,” and most are willing to see and admit the obvious: for instance, that our latest wars have probably done more harm than good, that our foreign policy in general is probably more hawkish than it ought to be, that at home, corporate power mixed with state power has reached a worrisome point, where your average worker, or your average American for that matter, is finding it harder and harder to claim a comfortable and expansive life for himself/herself and his/her children. I’m guessing most of the readership of this blog are in fact self-identified right-wingers, so I don’t have much of a chance of convincing anyone here that your underlying assumptions are both outdated and unhelpful, but I thought it best to at least stir the pot. Anyway, even though I’m still a dillwad or ass-monkey or whatever else to you… good luck and Godspeed.

  15. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Lyle Jeremy Rubin; I hope my “underlying assumptions” are unhelpful, that’s kind of the whole point of this post. In fact the point of the entire blog. I’ve been watching you people spew your anti-intellectual drivel for decades without an effective counter. I don’t know what you mean by “outdated”, unless that’s some kind of swipe at my age. “Outdated” doesn’t mean wrong. Like I said, you started the name-calling in the first paragraph of your article, so if you don’t like being called a dillwad, don’t be one.

  16. Finrod says:

    “Everything gets subsumed into broad-brush soap opera narratives. ” You mean like the ‘War on Women” because the right doesn’t think the state should be able to tell the Catholic church what they will and will not pay for, even if its counter to the church’s basic tenants.

    “that our foreign policy in general is probably more hawkish than it ought to be,” Yep that getting attacked and responding shit is pretty hawkish. BTW: We weren’t the only ones who thought Iraq had WMDs so please spare us the whole Bush lied meme.

    “corporate power mixed with state power has reached a worrisome point,” Corporate power? What corporate power? The ability to support a politician? That’s been going on basically since the very beginning of the country to one degree or another. As far as state power, odd to hear a lefty admonish state power. Nearly all major ideas that are promoted by the left (Healthcare for example) are pretty serious expansions of state power.

    Your whole slant here is confusing. You respond like your some center of the road type when the subject of the thread is a piece you wrote about how the ‘left’ can grab the military vote.

  17. LJR says:

    John Lilyea: Where in the first paragraph did I name call?

    Finrod: I’m not arguing for a “moderate” or “centrist” politics. I’m simply describing the psychology of many of those who self-identify as “left” or “right.” My politics clearly are not centrist, and given the current layout of national opinion, yes, I’m clearly on the “left.” The reason you’re confused is because I’m a localist, left-libertarian, social libertarian… the list of labels could go on and on ad infinitum… I believe in local, bottom-up solutions and organizations to what I see as being abstract, distant, top-down, problems. In other words, I’m not the bogeyman most right-wing bloggers are so obsessed with. If you’re still confused, I suggest you check out E.F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered”: http://www.amazon.com/Small-Is-Beautiful-Economics-Mattered/dp/0061997765/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334152009&sr=8-2 … or this website: http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/

  18. Jonn Lilyea says:

    If you don’t think that the stereotypes that you presented in the first paragraph aren’t name calling, you’re much dumber than I thought at first. You probably think that sentence is name calling, though, don’t you?

  19. LJR says:

    John Lilyea: You realize the whole first paragraph was set up to be REFUTED, no? The name of the friggin piece is “How the Left can Win the Military…” I was intentionally creating a straw man, so I could knock it down!

  20. Finrod says:

    Being ‘Left’ is really the only label that matters, the rest is just stuff to make one feel better about their decisions. I’m not really confused, I’m southern, and saying your confused is a rhetorical device used by southern men of a certain age to stimulate a conversation or an attempt to get clarity from the other side. It works better in person.

    I think you would be surprised to find that bottom-up solutions are in fact what many on the right espouse as well and one of the main sore spots with them is that in America today, the individual is being erased and replaced with the state.

  21. LJR says:

    Finrod: I was actually once a proud member of the libertarian/conservative right, and in fact did some of the research for one of the libertarian/conservative right’s favorite books. I’m pretty well-acquainted with this stuff, and I still find much of the tea-party/Ron Paul critique of liberal/left policy compelling (if you don’t believe me, check out my blog), but I’ve also come to find, through my own experience, that much of libertarian/classical liberal theory is outdated (that’s what I was referring to, Mr. Lilyea… not your age). It doesn’t take into account that once businesses reach a certain level of size and/or power, the presumed rules of the market no longer work as planned, but are used and abused by those on the top. I agree with the right that, generally speaking, more federal government intervention only exacerbates the problem by offering yet another weapon for our nation’s corporate oligarchs, but I don’t believe attempting to return to the pristine market of yesteryear is either advisable (see above) or possible. This is why I believe workplace democracy – the reclaiming of equity and opportunity on the part of employees themselves (as opposed to the politicians who supposedly represent them) – is the best way to go. Part of my piece in “Dissent” was actually a try at nudging the left in the direction of a more small/local politic, and my blog is all about identifying and exploiting the common threads that run through both the left and the right. For what it’s worth…

  22. OWB says:

    Keep shuddering over the concept of the left assuming it has anything whatever to do with my soul.

  23. Jacobite says:

    LJR, you wrote – ”so I don’t have much of a chance of convincing anyone here that your underlying assumptions are both outdated and unhelpful,”

    I’d point out that we don’t have much of a chance of convincing you that your assumptions, as well as your philosophies, are both outdated and unhelpful, either.

    You also wrote – ” The fact of the matter is, the majority of Americans (thank God) are not self-conscious “right-wingers” or “left-wingers,” and most are willing to see and admit the obvious: for instance, that our latest wars have probably done more harm than good, that our foreign policy in general is probably more hawkish than it ought to be,…..”

    Well first off I think you meant to say “are not ‘consciously’ right or left wingers”, at least I hope that’s what you meant since what you actually wrote doesn’t make sense, and secondly I’d like to see some evidence that your supposition is at all accurate. Just saying something is so doesn’t make it so, and if it’s your intention to try and change minds you’re going to need more than opinion.

    One last thing I’d like to bring up, you said you don’t expect to win anyone over on this site, but thought it might be helpful to converse with us. I would submit that that’s an entirely illogical thought process. Much of your dialogue mirrors that irrationality, making anything you have to say sound slightly ridiculous, especially to people trained to look for nuance and meaning in everything they read and hear.

  24. PintoNag says:

    LJR: the only way to have “workplace democracy” is if you work for yourself. Period. The minute you work for someone else, any possibility of “democracy” goes right out the window, for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is the actions of your fellow employees.

    And by the way — his name is JONN Lilyea. Two N’s.

  25. LJR says:

    Jacobite:

    1. Re point 1, yes, you’re correct, it probably goes both ways. The larger meaning of what I wrote was that most of the folks posting on this site seem to have a less fluid understanding of political opinion than I do, so they’ll probably be less eager to hear out someone who self-identifies as on the “left.” But I didn’t say that, so yes, you’re correct.

    2. Re point 2, it’s pretty well established amongst pollsters et al. that both the outcome of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are not viewed favorably by the majority of the public. Here are two links, courtesy of Google: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/behind-the-numbers/post/public-opinion-is-settled-as-iraq-war-concludes/2011/11/03/gIQADF2qsM_blog.html; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03 /27/world/asia/support-for-afghan-war-falls-in-us-poll-finds.html ; as for my corporate power point… http://www.gallup.com/poll/147026/americans-decry-power-lobbyists-corporations-banks-feds.aspx

    3. Re “self-conscious,” I suppose it’s redundant, but certainly not nonsense. Maybe I should have wrote “self-consciously left-wing or right-wing.” One can be self-consciously pretty, self-consciously happy, or self-consciously left-wing. For curiosity’s sake, I returned to my faithful Google and typed in “self-consciously left-wing”… perhaps all the scholars using the same phrase are also not making sense: https://www.google.com/#hl=fr&sclient=psy-ab&q=self-consciously+left-wing&oq=self-consciously+left-wing&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=hp.3…40993l42981l2l43148l9l8l1l0l0l1l1362l2243l0j6j1j7-1l9l0.frgbld.&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=5e5b163e03a97315&biw=1172&bih=634

    4. You can begin a discussion by knowing you’re not going to win anybody over completely (or even win them halfway), but still hope to introduce them to some ideas or perspectives that might better inform their own points of view, and possibly move them in unexpected directions down the road. Of course, the goal, in the long-haul, in any debate, is always to “win them over,” but I wasn’t referring to the long-haul.

    Also, I’ll just note (as I’m sure you know), that blog comments, however well-intentioned, will rarely prove 100 percent logically or grammatically impeccable. That’s why they’re blog comments ;-)

  26. LJR says:

    PintoNag: My bad on Jonn’s name. As for the rest of your comment, it depends on what you mean by “democratic.” If you’re using the term in its purest sense, as in all decision are always made by everybody, well yes, you’re correct. In fact, you can’t have democracy anywhere. However, if you’re using the term as I intended, as more a direction in which to move as opposed to a scientifically defined point, I respectfully disagree. Every boss, no matter how rotten, employs some level of democratic leadership/decision-making at some point in time. I don’t know if you’re a military guy, but the whole concept of “small-unit leadership,” downward empowerment, etc. are essentially democratic ways of thinking and doing, even though they coexist with an otherwise highly hierarchical organization.

  27. OWB says:

    And that is precisely the problem with attempting dialogue with a leftist. When called on anything, they just posit that we don’t understand how they are using a term.

    Whatever.

  28. PintoNag says:

    LJR: I’m female, and civilian.

    It seems to me that you are using a term that doesn’t fit for the situation you are descibing. I would think terms such as “collaboration,” “consensus,” and “cooperation” would be more accurate. There has to be a leadership structure in a business, but yet, there also has to be a coordinated thought-process and level of action among the workers to get the job done. Where I think we split on the use of terms is that the term democracy would indicate that the workers would have an equal level of input into the leadership of the company. In most companies, that process stops at just above mid-management.

  29. LJR says:

    PintoNag: To spare us (and our little audience) of a never-ending debate on semantics, “cooperation” it is. Whatever you call it, I don’t think we have enough of it, both below and above mid-management. I also don’t believe things are going to stay the same forever. If you look at history, throughout the ages, political/social/economic arrangements change, quite dramatically in fact. There’s no reason to believe this won’t be the case in the next 50-500 years (to assume so amounts to a kind of epochal narcissism), and I’d like to see us move in a more “cooperative” direction. I think there are a lot of people doing good work in this respect, both on the ground floor and in the world of books and ideas. I’ll refrain from posting anymore links, but there’s a lot out there, on the net and in the library, that gets into the nitty gritty of all this.

    And my apologies for assuming you were a dude.

  30. PintoNag says:

    There will always be, and SHOULD be, tension between leaders and workers. Official cooperation, past a certain point, becomes coercion. Anytime someone signs your paycheck, control is involved. I don’t wear rose-colored glasses where my employer is involved. Or where my government is involved.

    I would love to see people think more of each other, work more with each other, take care of each other. But you’re wasting your time thinking it will ever actually happen. We are what we are. Humans don’t change. That’s not my opinion, that’s history. The good do the best they can to minimize the damage the bad do. If you think, because you’re a modern 21st century man, you’re more enlightened than your predecessors, you’re mistaken. If you think you can change people, you’re wrong. And if someone has told you any of this, you’ve been lied to.

  31. LJR says:

    PintoNag: I’m a big believer in the (Puritan/small-r republican) notion that history is more or less cyclical, at least morally speaking, so I’m probably more on your side in that department than you might suspect. Still, I think a lot of good can be achieved within and between the cycles of history, and I diverge with you on the overall tenor of your last comment. I believe the end of slavery, equal formal rights for women, the civil rights movement, and so on, all would have never happened were that sort of attitude the prevailing one. Unlike you (I’m venturing a guess here), I consider the current power distribution in America something that can and must be challenged, and while I’d have to concede that, yes, some level of “tension” in the workplace is a good thing, I don’t believe what I’m proposing does away with such “tension,” by ways of “official cooperation” or otherwise. It certainly makes such tension more decent and fair (I think). Again, I’d like to avoid opening a whole can of worms at this point, but from what I gather from your comments, you might not be aware of a bazillion possibilities out there that don’t involve the kind of coercion you imply.

  32. PintoNag says:

    LJR: There is a saying in horsemanship that I never have had any affection for, but I’ve never been able to refute, and it’s this: “All of horsemanship is a balance of impulsion against restraint.” It doesn’t matter your love for horses, or your belief in their intelligence, or the superior breeding of the animal. It always comes back to this one statement.

    Humans are no different.

    You aren’t going to like what happens here, and I will warn you in advance: you won’t win the argument, if you choose to engage in it. Not here. But, I would encourage you to try, because the discussion is important.

    Your “bazillion possibilities”? I challenge you to name even one that doesn’t involve the kind of coercion I have implied.

  33. OWB says:

    Well said, PN. What so many of these lefties fail to acknowledge is that it was us free market types who brought slavery (at least in this country) to an end. It was not the flaming libs who did any of those things that the inestimable LJR referred to as needing to be protected from your (and my) attitude!

    What the lefties contnue to fail to acknowledge, while they doggedly rewrite history, is that it is our attitude that never accepted things like slavery in the first place. What we never saw as morally defensible doesn’t need to be fixed. What does he want our attitude changed to? Thinking that lynching is OK??

  34. Jacobite says:

    LJR, near as I can tell the “end of slavery, equal formal rights for women, the civil rights movement and so on,” were all primarily rammed through on the back of civil disobedience and/or the threat of force. These do not make your case for enlightenment elevating the masses, the masses were forced to accept changes that, if left to their own devices, they probably wouldn’t have addressed, and in fact seriously resisted.

    Pinto is dead on, if humans en-mass were capable of getting along as you envision, we likely would have done so for good a millennia or two ago.

  35. LJR says:

    PintoNag (et al): In answer to your question, PN, there’s a whole list of possible measures/arrangements on the wiki page for “workplace democracy” that I believe are sufficiently non-coercive (relative to the status quo, especially).

    Anyway, I’m going to be wise here and bow out. I’ve got work to do after all! Thanks to those who let me do some stomping on their turf. The last word is yours.

  36. Jacobite says:

    “Anyway, I’m going to be wise here and bow out.

    Smartest thing you said/done all morning. :)

    Cheers

  37. This is an awesome example of an internet thread debate without trolling. If they could only all be this civilized.

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