Why Don’t Americans Hold the Military Accountable for its Many Failures? By C.J. Chivers – New York Times ‘At War’
Each year since the late 1990s, public surveys have found that Americans have a high confidence in the country’s armed forces, often higher than for any other American institution. This public confidence largely endured even as American plans in Afghanistan and Iraq repeatedly failed, and as thousands of men and women in uniform died and tens of thousands more were wounded in wars that did not achieve what the military and its leaders set out to do.
For many people who served in these recent wars, living within the services’ stifling bureaucracies or laboring in operations or circumstances that eroded their confidence in the Pentagon and the brass, these results can feel both familiar and odd. How do the services seemingly get a pass? Is public support reflexive, a species of approval as automatic as some of the thank-you-for-your-service gestures that are a feature of life as a service member or veteran?
The disconnect between public support and military performance extends beyond the failures in the wars. It’s a feature as well in how the military handles issues away from the battlefields, including, as presented this week in At War, in cases of sexual harassment and public health…