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Behind The Political Desire To Fake Military Service
In 1996, Dr. Ben Carson was already an acclaimed neurosurgeon, known for several noteworthy surgeries as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He was, and is, a man of impressive accomplishments by any standard. Nevertheless, in his autobiography published that year, “Gifted Hands,” Carson felt compelled to roll a military angle into his personal story, claiming that he was offered a scholarship to West Point as a result of his work as a high school JROTC cadet. Recently, a Politico story exposed that as an exaggeration at best and a fabrication at worst. In response, Carson stood by his account, but gave himself an out, stating it was only an “informal” statement that he “could have” received a scholarship to West Point (which doesn’t offer scholarships, since it’s already free).
Another prominent 2016 presidential candidate, Donald Trump, a world-famous billionaire and businessman, said he “always felt that I was in the military” due to his time in a military prep school as a teenager.
Anyone who’s actually been in the military knows that the entrance requirements are sometimes not what we wish they could be. Often, looking at some of the Private Pyles among us, we wonder how some of the more mentally or physically deficient make it as far as they do.
Nonetheless, even obviously capable people such as brain surgeons and billionaires still seek to capitalize on their tangential associations with the military experience. Veterans see this phenomenon all the time in daily life. How often do you run into civilians who were “almost” in the military? If it weren’t for that bum knee/parents/dishonest recruiter they would have been a Marine/Ranger/Green Beret.
A whole industry exists to make middle- and upper-class Americans feel as if they’ve accomplished challenges similar to military training. From Tough Mudder to boot camp fitness to living like a monk in Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena’s barn, people seek to find the challenges for which service members and veterans joined the military.
In previous generations, universal conscription formed a rite of passage that most Americans, or at least men, went through in some fashion. Once the military became the all-volunteer force in the 1970s, it went from becoming something that everyone joined to something only a small subset of the population would ever be a part of.
Many, if not most, societies have had some sort of rite of passage into adulthood in their histories. Whether it was ritual mutilation or being intentionally bitten by bullet ants, passing into adulthood meant undergoing some form of challenge.
In the U.S. today, there is no universally agreed upon challenge that marks one’s transition into adult society. The military is the closest thing we still have, but not everyone can or is willing to join. So, we see the invention of what might be called “military by proxy.” People try to prove that they could have been successful in the military, if they had tried to.
Veterans can take pride in the fact that imitation is the highest form of flattery. They have done what many others, including the elite of American society, aspire to.
Many of these military-like rites of passage are actually as physically tough as some military training. Some military members would fall short on many of the more athletic challenges, though I suspect most would still beat out Trump and Carson on military aptitude.
The difference lies in the real challenge of any true rite of passage: subordinating yourself to be a part of something greater. No service’s boot camp will ever have a 26.2 mile run or similar extreme physical challenge, but they all share a similar requirement, which is to be willing to surrender your life for others. This is accomplished by a variety of physical and emotional challenges, but is something that no military prep school, high school JROTC program, or yuppie fitness fad can provide.
Until society can agree on a new standard on what makes a man or woman, we’ll continue to see everyone from blowhards in bars to presidential candidates try to ride the military-by-proxy train.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.