Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Deepening Our Understanding of the Common Defense

by Paul Herbert, Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny Park


In February, President Obama requested authority from Congress to intensify U.S. military operations against ISIS, the current focal point of a virulent Islamic Jihadist movement that foments worldwide terror, instability and violence. In addition, U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan and have been re-deployed into Iraq; President Vladimir Putin is using the Russian military to threaten the integrity and independence of Ukraine, suggesting in some quarters a neo-Cold War; and North Korea tests yet another missile. Today’s headlines underscore that the United States and its allies, interests, citizens and values remain subject to significant military and para-military threats.


Americans should be informed and engaged about matters of our common defense, but we are largely disengaged on these issues. Our small, all-volunteer military and the relative absence of military experience among our elected officials are but two indicators. Another is the absence of military history education in colleges and universities. Recently, the Society for Military History released a white paper, The Role of Military History in the Contemporary Academy. It asserts the importance of studying and understanding war, not to promote war, but to hone our judgment on war, peace and military matters. Such education is important to our democracy and our security. We commend the White Paper to our readers’ attention.”

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