View Full Version : Book on class disconnect in American society

05-18-2006, 01:42 PM
New book I just stumbled across, AWOL : The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=as2&path=ASIN/0060888598&tag=smallwarsjour-20&camp=1789&creative=9325), may be another interesting take on an issue we all know and love – the current under-representation of the “elite” in the military (vs. e.g. stronger showing in WWII).

Has anyone read it? If not, any thoughts just on the premise?

From its “how it hurts the country” tagline, I presume it goes on to address what it means. The disconnect is harmful to the integration of all the instruments of national power in the execution of our foreign policy and national security strategy.

Below seen on a mailing list, and posted here with permission of the author, Kathy Roth-Douquet.

Some of you may remember I asked for help about a year ago on a book I was writing about the disconnect between the military and the professional/academic/opinion-making classes. Many of you did help, and are quoted in that book, titled "AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service - And How It Hurts the Country" (coauthored by Frank Schaeffer, Collins Books/HarperCollins), released this month.

The title alone stirs up much controversy, most of which is addressed in the book - what do we mean by "upper classes," does this disconnect really exist, does it matter if it does? We use the current academic research and survey work on these subjects, some historical analysis, and many anectdotes, our own and others, to tell the story. I'm a Bryn Mawr and Princeton (WWS) alum, former Clinton White House staffer, married to a Marine officer, my co-auther is a filmmaker and best-selling novelist whose son enlisted.

Our forward is by Tommy Franks, cover blurbs by Sen John McCain, Tom Brokaw, Les Palm, and Mike O'Hanlon of Brookings. Publisher's weekly calls AWOL "a convincing, impassioned manifesto." We will be on the Today Show, Bill O'Reilly, Diane Rehm and Hardball, scheduled so far.

More information is at my website: www.roth-douquet.com (http://www.roth-douquet.com). There is more information, and a sample chapter there.

Kathy Roth-Douquet

06-12-2006, 06:51 PM
LA Times Op-Ed (vhttp://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-op-schaeffer11jun11,1,4022208.story?ctrack=1&cset=true) from Frank Schaeffer, the co-author of the book mentioned at the start of this thread.

DURING THE last two weeks, the Los Angeles Times has printed at least four front-page articles, and several others on inside pages, about a Marine squad accused of killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha and possibly falsifying reports about the incident.
I have no problem with reporting on the military's occasional failures. But it's unfair and out of context when, at the same time, editors at our best papers ignore much more routine acts of individual heroism that balance this grim picture.

06-14-2006, 12:11 AM
Valor Blind


Tom Odom
06-22-2006, 12:35 PM
Joe Galloway, whom I consider a friend, also noticed the book and has a column on it.


02-09-2007, 04:49 AM
I think it cuts both ways Ironhorse.

We have contrived heroics such as those of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, based on information intentionally falsified by the Pentagon. We also have the U.S. mainstream media continually referring to the rape and subsequent murder of a 14 year Iraqi girl as an "Iraqi woman".

If there are heroic actions on the part of our military personnel, and I'm sure there are, I certainly don't object, and would enjoy reading about them.

What so many of us object to is the out and out lies and spin the corporate media in the U.S. gives us today. We want the truth however pleasant or unpleasant it might be.

This is my first post. I'm not a military professional but I spent some time on the ground in counterinsurgency warfare a few decades ago and have covered the same territory in the years since then trying to gain a better understanding of what actually happened.

02-09-2007, 07:05 AM
Maphu, your first sentence is a complete lie. I was in the reporting chain for the Jessica Lynch fiasco, (V Corps Maneuver Support Cell OIC) and I know EXACTLY what the "pentagon" told the press, because I told the Public Affairs officer what to write. With the exception of one, highly excitable Medical Corps Captain in Landstuhl, (He's the moron who started the "wounded" and "raped" story) the entire position of Jessica Lynch by the military was: We have no new information and do not know the status of the 507th Maintenance Company ambush. The "press" basically made up the Jessica Lynch story while interviewing each other and playing a tragic, high-tech game of "telephone". In the end, Lynch got exactly what every other member of the 507th got, a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and POW medal. Despite the hyped-up, made-up media crap.

Pat Tillman was the result of "individuals on the ground" either trying to lessen their culpability in a mistake, or attempting to protect the family from knowing the "gory details" of how he died. Unfortunately, certain political activists have talked the Tillman's and the soft-headed folks like you into believing there is some "greater conspiracy" involved.

I accept you are not a military professional, but isn't it possible, in between reading and believing conspiracy theories you could consider that military operations are conducted by fallible human beings who make mistakes that are misinterpreted by an equally faulty media? That Bush & Co. are NOT omniscient puppet-masters who make airliners disappear?

I've read all your posts so far and hope you decide to pull in the invective, and/or read for a while. This isn't what SWC is about.

02-09-2007, 08:37 AM
Maphu - I have to ask you to take 120mm's advice and spend some time getting to know the Council before making knee-jerk assumptions.

You'll find there is quite a knowledgeable and experienced group of individuals here. While open-minded and representative of many sides of the pressing issues that face us - they all share one thing in common - they do not suffer fools and ask that opinions be backed by facts and / or personal first-hand knowledge.


02-09-2007, 09:55 AM
Said one mother to me, “I’ve raised my sons to be sensitive to
others, and to be critical thinkers, so I don’t think they’d be well
suited for the military.” Critical thinking is of course the byword of
liberal arts education, and the military is the imagined antithesis of
it, where one merely, unthinkingly, follows orders. —Los Angeles doctor and mother

Downloading the sample chapter (#2) and commencing with the above just pisses me off !

Not because she's a doctor, rather she's a mother and that's supposed to mean that our mothers raised their son's to be emotionally insensitive or callous ? My mother worked two jobs to send the four of us through Catholic grade school. She was very proud of our father's 23 years in the Navy and our Uncles' services in the Marines and Army in Vietnam. She would cite that often to my brother and I, when she referred to "Officers and Gentlemen".

Steven J. Naplan, who served as director for democracy and human rights at the Clinton White House’s National Security Council, wrote:
“Privacy” is the smokescreen behind which Mother Jones and
these critics attempt to mask their discomfort with the U.S.
military—the same military which saved hundreds of thousands
of Africans from certain starvation in the early 1990s,
saved hundreds of thousands of Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims
from mass murder just a few years later, and which today
trains the young men and women who risk and sometimes
lose their lives to protect us all from the terrorists who would
happily take the lives of every last Mother Jones editor, writer,
and subscriber. . . .

Amen !

02-09-2007, 10:38 AM
The military is not a political creature of the right or left. It is made up of real human beings; good, bad, and all points in between, just like the rest of the country. But all that does not answer these questions: Do we need a military? If we do, who should serve? If our men and women in uniform are not
seen as all of our sons and daughters, then whose are they? Have we
lost a sense of community, and perhaps of citizenship as well?

A very interesting chapter with an appropriate ending !

02-09-2007, 01:54 PM
I read the book. I enjoyed it. The book is written to point out that the military is not reflective of all of society, and that it is not the fault of the military for not being reflective of all of society. I put this book as kind of with "Bias" by Goldberg. People who had habitially only associtaed with like minded people were exposed to a new group of people who have different beliefs and values. They discovered that these people (the military) have been either disregarded, misunderstood, or disliked by their peers becuase of a total lack of interaction. The authors point out that the military is a good bunch of people who deserve respect just like anyone else. The authors take the families of the elites in this country to task for actively dissuading there children from seeking military service.