Does Hero Worship of the Military Get in the Way of Good Policy?

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But up front: Does hero worship of the military get in the way of good policy?

A thought provoking column in The Washington Post over the weekend by Benjamin Summers a captain in the U.S. Army, who noted that the expressed are his own.

Hero worship of the military is getting in the way of good policy

I have worn an Army uniform for the past eight years and deployed twice to Afghanistan. This doesn’t make me a hero… Applying the label “hero” to those of us who haven’t earned it diminishes the service and sacrifice of those who did. It also gets in the way of constructive debate and policymaking…

Too often, policymakers frame discussion of whether to cut the military budget as being for or against the troops; the political battle over the military portion of the sequester is an example of this black-or-white mind-set. But any bureaucracy — particularly one that doesn’t function with a profit-and-loss mentality — can innovate and gain efficiencies when it’s forced to do more with less. If we’re not searching for opportunities to fix, clean and trim our organizations, we’re not being good stewards of them. When we can’t have political discussions that dig beneath the blanket of “for or against the troops,” palatability wins over stewardship. And one of our nation’s most precious resources suffers the long-term consequences.”

The issue seems particularly acute to me around military pay, which Pentagon officials have repeatedly said needs to be re-examined to no avail.

Most people in government would love to face the challenge of hero worship, I’m sure.

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