Clint Eastwood's new movie, Flags of Our Fathers, opens this weekend. Manohla Dargis has a great review in the New York Times. Extremely insightful, as the movie is, evidently. I was particularly struck by this observation:
If “Flags of Our Fathers” feels so unlike most war movies and sounds so contrary to the usual political rhetoric, it is not because it affirms that war is hell, which it does with unblinking, graphic brutality. It’s because Mr. Eastwood insists, with a moral certitude that is all too rare in our movies, that we extract an unspeakable cost when we ask men to kill other men. There is never any doubt in the film that the country needed to fight this war, that it was necessary; it is the horror at such necessity that defines “Flags of Our Fathers,” not exultation.We extract an unspeakable cost when we ask men to kill other men. No kidding. And who, I ask, asks others to go off and enforce policy by other means, to paraphrase Clausewitz? It is, perhaps, the policy makers and other news makers, the privileged, the Ivy League educated elite.
On Thursday on NPR's All Things Considered, Ken Harbaugh, a 9-year Navy veteran who is now a student at Yale Law School, spoke about service and what it means to serve in the military. His colleagues in law school suggest to him that the poor and middle class serve in the military for the money. Mr. Harbaugh has other notions, however. He suggests, "The real reason we always send the poor is because the privileged refuse to go." Not that they haven't gone before, but now, today, the privileged are unwilling to serve, don't know what honor, respect, and devotion to duty mean. This essay is well worth a listen.
So, how to we make it so everyone, the privileged, the poor, the middle class, all serve for the greater good? How do we ensure that the next generation of policy makers understands service and sacrifice, knows what it is to serve in uniform, knows what it is to go off an be the hammer of international policy?