Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Has the military always been on the forefront of social issues?

A piece titled Navy Biofuels: Strategic Thinking Or Environmental Good Works Program? asserts in the first paragraph

the military has always been on the forefront of social issues.

and then identifies the present issue of biofuel use by the Navy:

The issue is fuel. The Navy recently spent 600% more for algae biofuels than they would for regular fuel, so the worry is they were doing it for non-military related reasons. Namely, to make the president happy. Now, you don't ordinarily think of the military as being pro-Obama but the top echelons are political. Secretary of the Navy Roy Mabus is a Democrat, he was a Democratic governor, he was an ambassador in the 1990s appointed by a Democratic president and he was appointed to his current job by a Democrat. Still, the idea that someone got to the top ranks of the Navy without putting the Navy first - and not environmental policies or currying political favor - has to be examined critically.

To illustrate the first point, Hank Campbell writes

A famous American general, John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, got that nickname because he proudly commanded the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry - the "Negro Cavalry" as Native Americans of the 19th century called them - and Pershing didn't want it any other way. He wanted to win and that meant the best people.

The American military was the first to integrate the 'races' ...

In 1892, Pershing took command of a troop in the 10th Cavalry Regiment, which was composed of African-American soldiers under the command of white officers. In 1897, Pershing was an instructor at West Point, and he got a nickname because of that command, and it was more perjorative than "Black Jack." As to racial policies of the military, African-American "Buffalo Soldiers" units were not allowed to participate with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I.

One recalls the much earlier story of Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts, depicted in the movie "Glory," concerning the attack on Battery Wagner in 1863. One also recalls the incident at Fort Pillow in April 1864, and the Battle of the Crater in July 1864. Whether the Pershing story illustrates --the military has always been on the forefront of social issues --might be questioned.

Whether the use of biodiesel is a social issue or a technological issue might also be questioned. Further, the way the War Department handled the Wright Brothers might lead one to conclude that the military has not always been on the forefront of technological issues.

Of interest, both Pershing (Nebraska) and Mabus (Harvard) were law school graduates.


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