I despised stupid commanders. I ended up despising the reactionary politics that infected so much of Special Operations, and the racism there. I never liked the male exclusivity, and argued early on for full gender integration in all branches.
[JVB] What positive lessons did you learn in the military? What do you think is wrong with the military?
[SG] I learned what people all learn in life. I don't know if I learned positive lessons, but I sure learned valuable ones. My politics grew directly out of my military experience.
I'm grateful for that. If I'd have become a computer programmer, I would probably be a libertarian now with an American flag decal on my car, clueless as a brick.
As to the military itself, it has to be seen as part of the system. Right and wrong are not valid categories to apply to an institution. It reflects the larger society. And as an institution, we have to contest for power in it until the system fails at its base. If I could change one thing about the military it's the military's masculinist culture. That would be a deep transformation. But magic doesn't happen. Struggle does.
[JVB] Alexander Hamilton warned against a standing army. Should the U.S. have a standing military? What do you think of a draft?
[SG] I hate to agree with Hamilton.
The way of life of the Untied States is based on imperial domination of most of the world. That domination is based on the hegemony of the US dollar, which is backed up by military power. That power is not static, and its foundations are shifting because reality won't hold still for it. The United States right now, as it is currently constituted, and some progressives will want to shoot me for telling this truth, cannot possibly hope to maintain the hegemony upon which the American "standard of living" depends utterly, without its global military.
Polemicists won't like me saying that, but I believe in what Amilcar Cabral said, that we should "mask no difficulties, tell no lies, and claim no easy victories."
I said "if" we want to continue our "way of life." But the way we are living is stupid and reckless, and we are consuming our grandchildren's future. I do not want to continue with an unsustainable, alienated, lemming-like charge toward an economic and ecological abyss, so I want US hegemony to end. That will be painful, but not as painful as that abyss.
I'd like to see the entire Department of Defense brought back to the Untied States and converted into a highly-disciplined public works jobs program that is expanded to include 50 million people who are trained in basic skills to begin the process of a forced march back away from the abyss by abandoning our urban energy sinks, re-establishing agriculture on a bioregional and sustainable basis, and overseeing the process of developing semi-autonomous, self-determining regions that constitutionally prohibit private ownership of any essential good or service again.
That's my fantasy, right after we ship our current ruling class off to their own Super-Maxes to build eco-toilets and learn proper methods of accounting.